Sep. 22nd, 2012

innocent_man: (punkrock)
The Emperor's New Groove is an oddity among Disney cartoons. Nary a princess to be found, a male protagonist who's a bit of a jerk, and a lot of self-referential, very meta humor. Obviously, that wasn't what Disney initially wanted to do.

They initially had envisioned it as a Mesoamerican version of The Prince and the Pauper, but that didn't test well. So what we get instead is a redemption story in which the Emperor Kuzco (David Spade, who I detest, so it's fun watching him get beat up) is turned into a llama by his evil sorceress adviser Yzma (Eartha mutherfuckin' Kitt) in a botch attempted to kill him. She sends her slow-witted scene-stealing henchman Kronk (Patrick Warburton) to finish the job, but he can't bring himself to do it, and the Kuzco-llama is accidentally taken into the hills by Pacha (John Goodman), a peasant whose home Kuzco has recently vowed to destroy to make room for his pool.

Kuzco, of course, winds up learning some basic humanity and eventually gets changed back into himself, and builds his pool near Pacha's village and everyone gets together and goes swimming. But along the way, he gets chased by panthers, tormented by squirrels, fed a crispy pillbug (hot n' crispy!) and generally beat to hell. But it happens to Yzma, too, who is just a little too intent on being evil. Kronk, meanwhile, is probably the best part of the movie. He's happy with everything, loves to cook and to cook for people (that's how you know he's a good guy at heart), and is only trying to kill Kuzco because Yzma's the boss, but he's not really feeling it.

Everyone plays their parts well, even Spade (ick), and everyone is well-cast. The humor is quick and very meta (following the old "red dotted line" while traveling, the characters look down and see the actual line on the ground, stuff like that), but it's still very playful and happy. Meta jokes can get dreary and po-mo and world weary, and I hate that shit, but when you've got Patrick "The Tick" Warburton cheerfully talking with a squirrel ("Squeakit-squeak-squeaker?") and occasional cries of "DEMON LLAMA!", it's hard not to love the movie.

Cael, by the way, was reduced to peals of laughter by Yzma turning into a kitten. Can't really blame him.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Empire Records

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