The Emperor’s New Groove
dir Mark Dindal • scr David Reynolds
voices David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, Tom Jones, Wendie Malick, Kellyann Kelso, Trudy Styler, Eli Russell Linnetz, Patti Deutsch, John Fiedler, Andre Stojka
release US 15.Dec.00; UK 16.Feb.01
Disney 00/US 1h18 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Disney's animation team cuts loose with a wild and wacky tale that makes little real sense ... and knows it ... and doesn't care. And the atmosphere of fun is pretty infectious, so who cares if there's nothing much to the film. Vaguely set among the ancient Incas, the story centres on the young, vain Emperor Kuzco (voiced by Spade) who, in a botched assassination attempt, is turned into a llama by his second in command, the villainous Yzma (Kitt) and her airhead toyboy sidekick Kronk (Warburton). So it's up to Kuzco and a country bumpkin farmer Pacha (Goodman) to solve the mess, after a few adventures of course.

The energy level is very high, as is the humour quotient, as the story ricochets all over the place, filling the screen with witty pop culture references, action-packed set pieces and lots of knowing self-parody (such as the admission that the story makes no logical sense, but never mind). As a result, even the grown-ups will chuckle happily as the manic film rushes by. Spade pretty much plays himself as Kuzco, with a constant stream of dry jokes and acerbic asides that sit nicely in contrast with Goodman's more gentle-hearted character. The Major Life Lesson is refreshingly low-key. There aren't any songs, so to speak, besides a few tunes crooned by the court jester (voiced by Tom Jones, of all people!) and the closing theme by Sting. There are rather a lot of inspired sight gags, especially the "cruel" fate awaiting Yzma. And there's not much else to say, really, about this diverting, silly bit of fun.

[U--themes, suspense] 19.Dec.00

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"The movie was great, especially the part where the baddie got turned into the cat. The really best part was when the cat was falling and screamed but caught the potion to turn animals into humans and started to laugh." --Conor White, age 7, London 12.Feb.01.

© 2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall