Disney's THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE, directed by Mark Dindal (CAT'S DON'T
DANCE), is a throwback to those old cartoon movies with silly, paper thin
plots and wisecracking characters. Without any pretensions and without
wasting much time trying to entertain the adults in the audience, the movie
is as carefully targeted to its intended demographics as a Saturday morning
cartoon series. Any kid younger than 13 will undoubtedly love it. Older
viewers may be less impressed, but it's a hard film to dislike. Even if
there may be few outright laughs, the story keeps a smile on your face.
David Spade (LOST & FOUND) plays the leading part of the egotistical Emperor
Kuzco. It is a part that manages to take advantage of David Spade's limited
talents. Kuzco considers it part of his birthright to be able to abuse the
peasants of his kingdom. He continues to do so even after his nemesis, Yzma
(Eartha Kitt), turns him into a llama.
One such peasant is a llama herder named Pacha (John Goodman). Kuzco wants
to wipe out Pacha's village so that he can build Kuzcotopia, a summer home
that looks like a water-based amusement park. In one of the story's
funniest scenes, Kuzco stops the action so that he can remind us that the
story is about him. To illustrate this point he uses a marker to draw a big
circle around himself and to obliterate Pacha. Following the standard buddy
movie formula, Kuzco and Pacha are a pair of squabbling characters who
eventually come to respect and help each other.
Perhaps the story's best character is Yzma's right hand man, Kronk (Patrick
Warburton), a square jawed hunk that looks like Gaston from BEAUTY AND THE
BEAST. Kronk, who speaks fluent squirrel, is low on IQ and common sense.
His shoulder-based devil and angel figures who advise him are as stupid as
he is. He does, however, make great spinach puffs.
Feeling in tone much like DreamWorks' THE ROAD TO EL DORADO, THE EMPEROR'S
NEW GROOVE doesn't break any new ground, but it is diverting for the adults
and fun for the kids. My personal favorite part of the movie is the map
shown to trace the character's progress on their way back to the palace. It
is a plot device that we don't see much any more. Like most of the rest of
the picture, it brought a smile to my face even if it didn't generate any
THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE runs a fast 1:20. It is rated G and is fine for
My son Jeffrey, age 11, saw the film with most of his sixth grade class, who
liked the picture. I interviewed 4 of them afterwards. Jeffrey and Rajiv
gave it *** 1/2, and John and Maxim gave it ****. They thought the film was
funny and had a cute plot. They liked the way that the Emperor kept
reminding us that the story was about him. Their favorite characters were
Kronk, Kuzco and the cat.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes