Disney Classics #40: The Emperor’s New Groove

This is a really fun, silly movie which features some nice fourth wall breaking along the way as it tells the story of a vain, selfish Incan emperor who is turned into a llama by his vengeful ex-adviser. David Spade plays Kuzco, the emperor and perfectly nails the arrogant, whiny nature of the character.

emperors new groove

What I love about the movie is that the jokes keep coming throughout, and there’s a lot of energy fizzing about in it.

The story of Kuzco slowly realising that there’s more to life than his own personal gain and his friendship with Pacha (John Goodman) is simple enough, but it’s never fully developed and sacrificed in the name of comedy. As such, it never quite lands emotionally in the way that Disney’s best movies do, feeling a little throwaway.

The film’s real strength is the knowing winks to camera, and surreal bits, such as the characters acknowledging story points that make no sense, looking to camera and tropes like the angel and devil on the shoulders.

The villains of the piece rather steal the show, with Eartha Kitt’s Yzma a delightfully nasty and temperamental character, assisted by her endearingly dim henchman Kronk (Patrick Warburton). It’s hard not to sympathise with her for wanting to get rid of the preening ruler.

Kronk is easily my favourite character, incredibly dimwitted but rather sweet he gets caught up in Yzma’s schemes but isn’t a bad guy. He fits with the Disney trope of useless villainous henchmen, but in a much funner way. The film revels in fast paced gags and daft humour, and is one of the most consistently laugh inducing Disney movies.

The finale which sees our heroes trying various potions as they try to switch Kuzco back to human is a hilarious fast paced chase scene with some daft touches which builds up in terms of ridiculousness and surrealism.

It falls down in a few areas, namely the music, which aside from a Tom Jones opening song is rather forgettable, and lacks the emotional punch of Disney’s best, but it’s still a very entertaining movie. It’s a second tier Disney film for me, but given the quality of the top level movies, that’s not a damning criticism.

Disney score: 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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