IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! The Emperor's New Groove

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Originality, even when it's forced, is a rare and wonderful thing these days. Sometimes it comes about due to the constraints of budget or equipment. Sometimes the expectations or demands of a client or superior change. However it happens, if a production can manage to recover, even if it goes in an entirely new direction, the result is usually at least interesting, if not decent. The Emperor's New Groove is more than decent, being an atypical Disney movie and, in my humble opinion, one of their most fun.

Courtesy Disney

The story is set in an ambiguously ancient Mezzo-American empire, whose current head honcho, Kuzco, is something of a spoiled selfish jerk. The teenaged tyrant is looking to build his new summer home (complete with water slide) on the hilltop currently occupied by a small peasant village. His plans distract him from the machinations of his ancient witch of an advisor, Yzma, who conspires with her large and somewhat ADHD-afflicted handyman Kronk to poison Kuzco and usurp his empire. Unfortunately for Yzma, Kronk grabs the wrong vial and instead of dying, Kuzco is turned into a llama. The polymorphed potentate is dumped on a cart belonging to Pacha, leader of the village scheduled for destruction. In order to get back to his palace and regain his throne, Kuzco needs to work with Pacha, who will only help the emperor if he agrees to build 'Kuzcotopia' somewhere else. Hilarity ensues.

Originally, this was going to be a far more typical Disney musical, called Kingdom of the Sun. They had a Prince & the Pauper storyline, Sting was lined up to do the songs, everything was going swimmingly. The production began to suffer, however, when the team tried to find ways to make the story more original. Test screenings didn't go well, and the two directors assigned to the project by Michael Eisner ended up working on two different films, with one leaning towards drama while the other aimed for comedy. When the more drama-minded director left the production, Eisner threatened to shut down the production entirely. While the animators were assigned to a Fantasia sequence, the writers and remaining director gave the film a serious overhaul. The result was The Emperor's New Groove.

Courtesy Disney
Think of the jaguars as very angry investors. But what the hell do they know?

Opting for an entirely comedic experience, the movie plays a lot more like something out of Warner Brothers than Disney. There's no romance save the relationship between Pacha and his very pregnant wife, all but one of the in-movie songs were cut (which made Sting very upset), and the typical Disney cute animal very spitefully tries to get Kuzco eaten by a pack of hungry jaguars. A particularly Looney Tunes moment is in the third act when Yzma and Kronk are in a dark room, and all we can see are their eyes in an entirely black space. You'll know what I mean when you see it.

One of the most brilliant decisions made was to cast David Spade as Kuzco. His performances in the various comedies he's been a part of over the last decade or so have been somewhat hit and miss. Emperor's New Groove is the former. Spade is very good at being a shallow jerkass, and channeling that into the shallow-as-a-thimble Kuzco is a stroke of genius. The small ensemble cast is, in fact, effective on all sides. John Goodman's Pacha is very charming and endearing, Patrick Warburton launched a great voice acting career due to his turn as Kronk, and Yzma wouldn't be anywhere near as enjoyable or the jokes to which she's subjected as funny if her voice wasn't coming out of former Catwoman Eartha Kitt.

Courtesy Disney
One might even say she was "purrfect" for the role.

Combining this great voice work with some of Disney's finer hand-drawn animations and quite a few lampshades being hung on the typical fare from the studio creates a very funny movie that still manages to be endearing in places. We see an actual friendship develop, the characters are memorable, the story moves a great clip and none of the jokes overstay their welcomes. In terms of both comedy and animation, this movie does everything it needs to do right not just right but very well.

Even if you don't have kids, I'm willing to bet you'll find The Emperor's New Groove an amusing and refreshingly quirky romp from Disney's animation studio. It fits well in just about any Netflix queue, whether you're a fan of comedies in general or need a change of pace. It's always interesting to see, over the course of a narrative, a complete jerkass grow and change into... well, a slightly more tolerable jerk. Which is part of the reason Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, in my opinion, works as well as it does.

...What? You haven't seen that yet, either? Why are you still sitting there?

Josh Loomis can't always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it's unclear if this week's film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain... IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.

Great review, but in all honesty I didn't realize that was Eartha Kitt.

ahh a classic, and yes I have seen Scott Pilgrim and am just as astounded as you are that it hasn't gotten more acclaim than it has. Good review as always.

OBVIOUS WATERFALL IS OBVIOUS! God, I love this movie. Great review and audio review. Even though all songs were cut, you cannot deny that that jazz solo during the chase scene was awesome. I loved the sax.

I love this movie. Even now I still pop in the DVD from time to time and enjoy a pleasant romp through memory lane.

Oh, and one question, do you take requests?

Ahhh... when was the last time I saw an Animated Disney film (Unless you want me to go into specifics, then it's only a month or two). Perhaps it's time to use my newly obtained £100 on my card (Lottery beginners luck ftw).

BlueInkAlchemist:
...What? You haven't seen that yet, either? Why are you still sitting there?

Calumon: Because it's lazy day! ^^

Oh, this movie, I remember it! I even have the DVD for it and, like Irridium, pop it in every now and again for a night of fun.

One of Disney's most underrated classics, says I!

It was one of the few films that could take David Spade a.k.a. the Human Pimple bearable, and the fact we got to hate him for most of the movie worked well.

This is a great Disney movie.

One of the few things Disney has done that was actually funny, not just hokey kids movie funny. Its a shame they buried it after the direct to video sequels.

As for Scott Pilgrim...um no thanks, id rather not subject myself to Michael Cera and his stupid androgynous face.

Great review and a good movie.

This was a big part of my later childhood right here. My brother and I still quote this movie on a regular basis. "Aah! Demon llama!"

It's been a while since I've seen this movie. Your review makes me want to watch it again.

This was actually one of those enjoyable animated movies in my mind. Good review of a pretty fun movie.

Of course nothing can, or probably ever will, hold a candle to the much old animated movie: El Dorado

Jack and Calumon:
Ahhh... when was the last time I saw an Animated Disney film (Unless you want me to go into specifics, then it's only a month or two). Perhaps it's time to use my newly obtained £100 on my card (Lottery beginners luck ftw).

BlueInkAlchemist:
...What? You haven't seen that yet, either? Why are you still sitting there?

Calumon: Because it's lazy day! ^^

No! No lazy day! GO AND SEE SCOTT PILGRIM NOW!

I DON'T CARE IF THEY DON'T INTERDEMENSIONAL BEINGS INTO THE THEATER, GO!

RangerSERE:
As for Scott Pilgrim...um no thanks, id rather not subject myself to Michael Cera and his stupid androgynous face.

In my humble opinion, if you miss out on Scott Pilgrim just because you don't like Michael Cera, you are making a mistake.

Irridium:
Oh, and one question, do you take requests?

I do indeed. You can find details on the whys and wherefores here. Thanks for your interest!

In general:

You all rock. Thanks for your support.

This is actually my all time favorite movie. I still can't imagine how the call to David Spade went...

BlueInkAlchemist:
snip

Some how, i know ill manage to go on with my life.

Emperors New Groove is undoubtedly one of the funniest movies of all time.

Sev72:
This was actually one of those enjoyable animated movies in my mind. Good review of a pretty fun movie.

Of course nothing can, or probably ever will, hold a candle to the much old animated movie: El Dorado

I love El Dorado.
Amazing movie.

Yeah, I enjoyed both scott pilgrim and the emperor's new groove when it came out.

the latter is due to me being a sucker for ancient mesoamercian culture's though.

One of my friends loves this movie. I've never seen bits of it myself, but what I have seen is hilarious. Generally it's a good sign when a comedy generares in-jokes. I'm thinking particularly of the line "Why do we even have that lever?".

BlueInkAlchemist:
One might even say she was "purrfect" for the role

Unfortunately I have to come round to your house and beat you to death with a shovel now. It's nothing personal, you understand. It's just a moral obligation when someone makes a pun that terrible.

Ha! I saw this film years ago when it came out, and it's only now (after a trip to Peru) that I realise Kuzco (Cusco) is the ancient capital of the Inca (Quechan) Empire, and it means "Belly" (because it was in the centre of the Empire, like the belly is at the centre of the body...ish)

Fun Mezoamerican Fact No. 2! The Inca Empire is actually the Quechan Empire, because the Quechans spoke Quecha, and in Quecha, Inca means King/Ruler. When you call it the Inca Empire, it's the King Empire. Might as well call every Brit "your majesty"

great review as always

Ah, the Emperors New Groove.. damn, that was a good one!

Patrick Warburton and David Spade as voice actors just rock it, no question. I need to look this one up again, for sure..

Wow, great review, definitely will rent it out and see it again.

I love this movie. I just watched it with a friend the other day. Ah... memories.

BlueInkAlchemist:

I do indeed. You can find details on the whys and wherefores here. Thanks for your interest!

In general:

You all rock. Thanks for your support.

Hey, you have Mask Of The Phantasm there. Share it! I always got goosebumps from that movie.

Well this one completely slipped past me, but now I might check it out.
I'm quite enjoying your reviews by the way!

 

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