The Emperor’s New Groove is really about another new groove — Disney animation’s. By 2000, the old Disney-as-usual wasn’t selling any more, and Disney was ready to begin trying new things.
The Emperor’s New Groove couldn’t be more different. Instead of a love story, it’s a morality tale, about an unconscionably self-centered emperor named Kuzco (David Spade) who’s forced to reexamine his priorities when — in a metamorphosis reminiscent of Pinocchio and C. S. Lewis’s Prince Rabadash — he finds himself transformed into a llama.
Instead of the old Disney anti-family stereotypes (feeble or overbearing father, absent or irrelevant mother, etc.), there’s a refreshingly affectionate portrait of family life. Pacha (John Goodman), the magnanimous peasant who spends most of the movie helping the llama-emperor, is married to ChiCha (Wendie Malick), an attractive, very competent, very pregnant, stay-at-home mother of two; and their kids are adorable — and funny.
Eartha Kitt is hilarious as a Cruella de Vil-like villainess, and Patrick Warburton as her henchman Kronk nearly steals the show — except the whole cast is so spot-on. The fast-paced humor targets kids and adults alike, and there’s more than a touch of Chuck Jones in the whimsical animation.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.