THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE
Directed By: Mark Dindal
Produced By: Randy Fullmer
Story By: Chris Williams & Mark Dindal
Premiered On: December 15, 2000
Distribution By: Buena Vista Pictures
For a film that is arguably one of the most comedic of any Disney Animated Feature Films, The Emperor’s New Groove has quite the sordid history behind its creation. While some Disney films have quite the long lifespan for creation, for as I recall The Little Mermaid was a film that Walt Disney himself had wanted to create but could never seem to find the right way of doing so, The Emperor’s New Groove had six straight years of being worked on versus going into a hiatus of hibernation or being dropped altogether.
In point of fact, the film had an entirely different name and story having been once called The Kingdom of the Sun and being more heavily based upon the story The Prince and the Pauper versus an entirely original tale as it would eventually become. This change is attributed mostly, and quite heavily, upon executive and creative conflicts with the studio executives believing that the original film was far too ambitious, serious, and would likely be underwhelming as Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame had been.
However, much like a certain grinning cat, I do not involve myself in politics and that includes within film studios. If you’re curious and wanting to find out more, believe me the trail is not hard to find or follow.
The Emperor’s New Groove, contrary to how its name sounds, is not based on the story The Emperor’s New Clothes though the title was undoubtedly so. Its story focuses on a young, arrogant prince of an Incan empire whose advisor, Yzma, seeks to take the throne for herself by poisoning him.
However, due to her own… eccentricities and that of her chief assistant Kronk, she ends up turning Emperor Kuzco into a llama instead and inadvertently sends him into the hands of a man whom the young royal had all but promised outright that the man’s home would be demolished to make room for Kuzco’s own summer home.
The rest of the film is essentially a buddy story where two people from two entirely different walks of life and perspectives must try to get along with each other. Despite being a tried and somewhat overused story telling method, The Emperor’s New Groove does the job surprisingly well. Kuzco himself is akin to the likes of Deadpool in that though it is him being the narrator, he is also somewhat aware of the fourth wall, even going so far as to pause the film and stress the point that the film is about him and not his, then unwilling, friend Pacha.
In point of fact, I’ll even go so far as to say that The Emperor’s New Groove is easily the most comedic of all Disney animated films, feature or otherwise. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that one cannot simply discuss what makes for good comedy so instead I implore you to watch the video below for a highlight of some of the best, and funniest, scenes of the film.
While this film does have more than one song to its name, the song “My Funny Friend and Me” served as an end credit song and is a stark contrast to the film itself both in tone and in tune. However, it is not a lack of choices that leads me to declare the song “Perfect World” as the one that best describes this film. For all the villain’s evil songs, for all the I-want songs sung by princesses from all walks of life, and even to the occasional comedic if not outright befitting number performed by comedic sidekicks, this song is the most befitting to the character whom it describes.
Now, contrary to what I’ve done for other films, I’ll spare a few paragraphs to describe my thoughts and opinions on the direct-to-DVD sequel and the television series strictly for one reason and one reason only. I’ve not nor do I ever plan to watch the film’s sequel as it is entirely based upon a villain’s sidekick that, while funny, has next to nothing to do with the original film’s protagonists whom are, at best, side characters in the story.
As to the cartoon series, I’ll admit that I watched an episode or two but, like most audiences, I could not wrap my mind around the show’s plot that is described as such. Kuzco must attend, and graduate, a school that he himself created in order to legally remain as emperor. If he should fail even a single class, than Yzma will become empress in his place.
Never before has the single-worded question of why been more prevalent in a cartoon serie before because for while there are suspensions of disbelief to be made in any cartoon, there’s not enough leverage to get this one off the ground.
Overall, I give The Emperor’s New Groove… five out of five stars. It’s a great movie, comedy gold, and is stands out artistically amongst most traditionally animated films. However, I cannot promise that it is a film to watch time and time again nor could I credit it with the makings of a Disney Classic.