(You know, I could’ve sworn I covered this film already, but I can’t find it anywhere in the archive so I guess I didn’t, lol!)
Over this past weekend, I as I was celebrating my 28th birthday, I managed to pick up a copy of The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) from Best Buy (seriously, if you get the chance, go see what they have, there are a lot of great movies on sale right now before Black Friday). I saw this movie in theaters sixteen LONG years ago, but it’s been a while since I watched it on DVD.
Truthfully, I’d forgotten how FUNNY this film is! While this film takes place after the end of the Disney Renaissance, the animation is well done and the voice acting is hilarious!
The Emperor’s New Groove is set in ancient Peru, in the Incan Empire and follows Emperor Kuzco (David Spade) as he gets the biggest serving of humble pie EVER. See, 17 year old Kuzco’s tiniest whim has been satisfied since the day he was born, meaning that he’s the biggest entitled, egotistical, spoiled BRAT on the face of the Earth. He does what he wants and has no means of understanding the consequences. For example, he summons Pacha (John Goodman), a village leader, to the palace, only to inform him that his home for the last six generations will be demolished the very next day (Kuzco’s birthday) to make room for the emperor’s new summer palace. But there’s a big problem coming for Kuzco….
Everyone, meet Yzma
Earlier that day, Kuzco had fired his royal adviser Yzma (Eartha Kitt) for playing “empress” one time too many. The infuriated Yzma decides (with help from an unwitting Kronk, her latest henchman) to get rid of Kuzco herself. Since Kuzco is barely 18, not married and certainly no children to succeed him, Yzma can easily take over the empire and rule herself. To that end, she tells Kronk to prepare a poison that will kill Kuzco almost instantly at dinner that evening. But instead of poisoning Kuzco, Kronk instead slips in extract of llama, which (you guessed it), turns the spoiled emperor into a llama!!! A subsequently botched attempt by Kronk to “finish the job” leaves Kuzco way out in the distant countryside with Pacha, and the two must find a way to work together so that a) Pacha and his family keep their home b) Kuzco can return to the palace and become human again and c) Kuzco can figure out what it means to actually be a proper ruler!!
The Emperor’s New Groove “Pull the lever Kronk!”
Yzma is played brilliantly by Eartha Kitt (who also played Catwoman in the 1966 Batman television series). The way she’s animated, she clearly has the air of a woman who was once a great beauty back in the day (at least she thinks of herself that way) and stubbornly holds onto that idea in the present.
Kuzco is also well-done, his transformation from spoiled brat to understanding young adult is believable. Kuzco and Yzma easily have my favorite lines in the entire film:
Yzma: “Pull the lever Kronk…WRONG LEVER!!!!
Kuzco: “Don’t tell me…we’re about to go over a huge waterfall…(Pacha: Yup!) Sharp rocks at the bottom? (Pacha: Most likely.) Bring it on!”
If you’ve never seen this film before, go check it out, you’ll have a great time 🙂
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An underappreciated feature, for sure. The legendary Eartha Kitt voicing Yzma a true highlight and Patrick Warburton’s Kronk a pitch-perfect comedic henchman. My kid’s used to re-watch this constantly at home when they were young (which makes me feel so old to say). 😉
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