The Emperor's New Groove

2000 movie where a David Spade character befriends a fat guy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: The titular emperor, a young and arrogant spoiled brat, has plans to build a waterpark on a hill belonging to a gregarious peasant named Pacha. A power-hungry associate named Yzma attempts to assassinate Emperor Kuzco but winds up turning him into a talking llama instead. He has to depend on Pacha to get back to his kingdom and un-llama himself. It's a hilarious adventure!

Sure there' a midget Tom Jones in this, but other than his opening song, this isn't a musical. And thank God for that! This offering seems a little adventurous for the Disney folk. This one's got an ornery rhythm, and although there isn't anything objectionable, I imagine its general attitude might be off-putting to some parents. It's playful and as colorful as Robin Williams' squelchiest brain farts, but unlike his unhinged Genie, the modern references in this--boy scouts, exotic bird bingo--are never obvious. This is stuffed with visual gags, and the jokes in the dialogue are rapidfire, the funny coming so quickly that you really need to see this more than once to catch it all. So much contributes to this unique liveliness this cartoon's got. You've got the good voice work from the likes of sarcastic Spade ("He's doing his own theme music!") who, for at least part of the movie, narrates unreliably; John Goodman; freakin' Eartha Kitt as one of Disney's most inept villains ("Should have thought about that before you became a peasant."); Patrick Warburton as her even more inept sidekick, the rare dumbass character who doesn't get annoying by the end, a character whose every bit of dialogue is funny; even John "Piglet" Fiedler with one of his final roles, an Old Man cameo surrounded by movie after movie after movie in which he has to voice fucking Piglet. The action sequences, those scenes of adventure that must have been the reason this had a "mild peril" warning stamped on it, have both a zip and a wang. The sound effects accompanying all the mild peril were also great, giving this almost a Looney Tunes flavor--wacky and lively. The settings, a variety of gnarled locales with no regard for buzzkills like continuity, just pop, and I like the cool transitions from place to place and scene to scene. The whole movie's got a look that I liked a lot--the characters with exaggerated angles of necks and limbs, the jazzy movement, explosions of color. It's all very refreshing. Buster watched this with me and instantly wanted to watch it again. She was, however, high.


cory said...

I almost missed your review of this, which I really enjoyed. When we were arguing about "Beauty and the Beast", I listed this as my number five Disney movie. I think you are right about it not being normal Disney fare, and I believe it is easily their most underrated film. The four leads are flat out hilarious and perfectly balanced (Spade should always play animated characters). The plot is always fun and fast paced, and the whole thing has an edge. It is something that adults and kids can enjoy equally, and anyone who likes animated films at all should check it out. An 18.

Shane said...

Are you referring to Barry at the end of that comment?

cory said...

Nah, I'm not that subtle. I don't remember if Barry has seen this, or not. Barry...?