Movie #211 2020: The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

Is a movie from the year 2000 considered a ‘classic’ nowadays? I mean, it’s 20 years old at this point, so I’d say so.

The Emperor’s New Groove is one of those movies I was always aware of as a kid, but just never really got the chance to watch. It’s story is of Emperor Kuzco, who plans to build his summer home – complete with swimming pool – atop a hill by destroying the village that is already there so he can selfishly move in. When Yzma – his advisor – plots to take over his kingdom, her aide Kronk accidentally turns Kuzco into a llama instead of killing him. In order to regain his human status, Kuzco enlists one of the townsfolk from the village he is about to destroy, who begrudgingly agrees to help as long as Kuzco vows to halt his plans to uproot the community for entirely self-centred reasons.

Yzma. We have to start with Yzma. The best Disney villain of all time, if you ask me. Forget Maleficent, give me an Yzma origin story. (Good luck to anyone who wants to try and beat Eartha Kitt’s performance though, as she is delightfully brilliant here.) Better yet, give me an Yzma and Ursula origin story. There has to be a scenario in which they can co-exist, right? Anyway what I’m saying is, Yzma is the best thing about all of these shenanigans.

As a whole package, The Emperor’s New Groove is pacy, funny, and extremely well animated. Is this one of the last great classic 2D Disney animations other than The Princess & the Frog? I’d say so. (It has been brought to my attention that Brother Bear is also excellent, but I haven’t seen that so this argument is invalid until I see it for myself.)

Unlike the majority of Disney films, this one seems extremely original in the way it lays out its story. What is so cool about this is that they have the main character narrate the movie – not something that Disney do too often, and certainly not something I can remember being the case in any of their other animated movies. It’s that sort of thing that makes this movie stand out amongst a catalogue of brilliant Disney films, plus the humour here is a laugh a minute.

Speaking of comedy, there’s one particular sequence from The Emperor’s New Groove that I think I will remember for year to come: the scene in the kitchen/restaurant. What an amazing example of slapstick and physical comedy; the best part of the whole film if you ask me. It has a very Marx Brothers kind of feel to it, which you’ll notice now if you watch it again.

Only downside for me was that I found my attention drifting in the third quarter. Thankfully the majority of its run before and after has a great pace and the characters were interesting enough to draw me back in.

A very quick watch at only 78 minutes, The Emperor’s New Groove is an all-round crowd pleaser.

The Emperor’s New Groove is available to stream on Disney+, Sky Cinema, and Now TV in the UK.

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