Llama Drama
The Emperor's New Groove
Review by Ross Anthony

"This story is about Me! ... I was a really nice guy and they ruined me for no reason," David Spade begins his reign over this Disney film from the get-go and never lets go.

Changed into a llama by Yzma, his wicked Grinchy-looking advisor, the emperor is forced to come to terms with his total lack of heart. In stark contrast, John Goodman, as the big-hearted Pacha, makes an unlikely partner in the emperor's attempt to reclaim the thrown.

Hey, this is a really funny movie! (And I'm a few years older than five) Spade's wry, dry, whiny, biting edge vibrates against the expected smooth gloss of Disney paint ... it'll set your funny bone resonating.

Kudos to the director, editor, and screenwriter as well, though Spade is definitely the star of this show (as Carrey in the Grinch); this film still packs plenty of well-timed physical humor and a healthy supply of delightful one-liners from other characters.

Kronk, Yzma's kid-spirited sensitive-male thug, delivers a host of juicy gags. Yzma orders, "Kronk, break down that door!"
Kronk narrow's his eyes, "What? Are you kidding? That's hand-carved mahogany."

A nervous villager stands before Yzma.
Yzma barks, "It's no concern of mine that your family doesn't have ... what was it again ... food?"
The villager mutters something inaudible.
Yzma finishes, "Yes, well you really should have thought about that before you became a peasant."

Toward making Emperor Kuzco even more vain (and since the story is told by him), other character's dialogue sort of blurs into blah blah as they fall victim to his short attention span and gross lack of empathy. A very nice touch. And then as a Llama, Kuzco stumbles clumsily around on his new hoofs -- strong creative insight to thicken this already rich character.

The film's only flaws are consolidated into one unfunny jungle restaurant scene that plays like a bad 1960's sit-com. It's an ugly blemish that is soon enough over and done with.

In sum, the emperor's jaded, Spaded, jagged-edge of vanity cuts a sharp b-line to the jugular. Though small tikes may miss some of these satiric nuances, the film still stocks a powerful momentum. At about an hour fifteen, it's smaller in length while decidedly passing on the usual Disney animation grandeur (not a one character ever breaks into song); still this is a pretty darned fun and funnier film.

  • The Emperor's New Groove. Copyright © 2000. Rated G.
  • Starring the voices of David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, Wendie Malick.
  • Directed by Mark Dindal.
  • Written by David Reynolds, Story by Chris Williams and Mark Dindal.
  • Produced by Randy Fullmer at Disney.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:11:51 PDT