The Emperor’s New Groove Review

Originally planned
as a dramatic musical with an ambitious score by Sting the Disney brass
monkeys decided to tinker with their “Kingdom of the Sun” script drop
the show tunes and detour in an entirely different direction. The result
is a lighter and probably much more successful approach. Ruling over his
pre-Columbian kingdom the obnoxious and self-centered Kuzco’s (David
Spade) reign is threatened when his evil advisor Yzma (Eartha Kitt) and
her dopey henchman Kronk (Patrick Warburton) try to poison him. But nothing
goes according to plan with these things and instead of doing away with
the emperor the wrong poison turns him into a llama. Dropped into the
middle of the forbidding jungle Kuzco begrudgingly enlists the aid of
a good-hearted peasant Pacha (John Goodman) to help him return to his
kingdom and well de-llamafy himself.

A plum role to showcase the comic talents of Spade the Disney animators
capture the former “Saturday Night Live” performer’s facetious cynical
distance perfectly. On the flip side those who find Spade’s humor one-note
and grating may be advised to sidestep this venture. As the steadfast Pacha
good-natured lug Goodman is fine but an obvious choice. As the villainously
wicked Yzma it’s refreshing to hear Kitt (a grand underused talent) work
her magical voice once again. And as Yzma’s thick and distracted henchman
Kronk Warburton‘s thug-like delivery is a nice comic choice but his monotone
mumbling is sometimes hard to understand.

Breezily paced and not above poking fun at Disney stereotypes director Mark Dindal
(Warner Brothers’ animated “Cats Don’t Dance”) and his animation team’s
contemporary approach clever art direction and attention to detail make
for an entertaining and memorable 80-minute diversion. Arguably the funniest
product spun from the Mouse Factory since “Aladdin ” “Groove” may appeal
more to parental units by eschewing the standard formula momentum-stopping
songs for Dindal’s zanier more insightful comic moments.

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