I recently re-watched an old favorite Disney cartoon that I thought would be fun to share: The Emperor’s New Groove, a wildly funny and absurd romp of a movie.
Emperor Kuzco devotes himself constantly to fulfilling his own every whim, with utter disregard for anyone around him. One of his whims includes a new summer home (“My birthday present to me!”). This is bad news for Pacha, whose ancestral village will have to be destroyed to make way for the Emperor’s new indulgence. Kuzco makes a serious tactical error, however, when he decides to fire Royal Advisor Yzma. She vows to kill him and, with the inept help of side-kick Kronk, accidentally turns him into a llama instead. Forced to rely on Pacha for help, Kuzco has to find, well…a new groove.
The plot is absurd enough, but what really makes this movie fun are the wonderful characters and the hilarious dialogue. Yzma is a seriously cracked villain, and so very funny in her wild speeches, hideous costumes and insane melodrama. Check out this scene here as she plots destruction; it’s pretty much all quotable. Trust me, I know this from experience. 🙂 I’m also convinced that Yzma is based on Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard. Unfortunately, no one I know has seen Sunset Boulevard, so I can’t get a second opinion on that!
Kronk is a wonderful sidekick with a big heart, really big shoulders, and not enough brainpower to be evil. He loves small furry animals and cooking, has a Shoulder-Angel and a Shoulder-Devil who confuse him, and he’s been known to formulate his own soundtrack.
Pacha is pretty much the nicest guy ever, with a really awesome family. His wife, Chicha, is one of my favorite Disney women. She’s smart, she’s capable, and she’s definitely the fiercer of the two in this partnership–while wearing a dress and taking care of her two kids–and did I mention she’s pregnant? How often do you see a pregnant animated character? Or, for that matter, a happily married Disney couple? I love that Chicha is not a princess, or an action hero, or a fairy. She’s just a really great, normal woman. We need more of them in movies.
Kuzco is our narrator through the movie, and he’s goes on a believable arc of self-growth. I particularly like the moment when narrator-Kuzco argues with in-the-action-Kuzco. It’s an important turning point. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that Kuzco grows from hilariously self-centered to a much more likable guy.
So we have fun characters, there are llama jokes, there’s also a very entertaining chattering squirrel…and there’s a nice message about consideration for others. Though mostly the movie is about the funny lines. This is definitely one of those movies where I’m going to wind up by saying–if you haven’t seen it, watch it!
Buy it here: The Emperor’s New Groove