movie film review | chris tookey

Emperorís New Groove

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  Emperorís New Groove Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
6.17 /10
Emperor Kuzco: David Spade , Pacha: John Goodman , Yzma: Eartha Kitt
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Directed by: Marc Dindal
Written by: David Reynolds , based on a story by Chris Williams and Mark Dindal

Released: 2001
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 78

A spoiled, selfish Emperor (David Spade) of some nameless South American nation in some mythical past (possibly pre-Colombian Peru) makes the mistake of firing his raddled, witchlike advisor (Eartha Kitt at her most feline), who has as her sidekick a muscular toyboy who's more interested in cooking than in helping her nefarious schemes. This character is the comic highlight of the movie, with exceptionally funny lines delightfully delivered by Patrick Warburton from Seinfeld. A magic spell turns the Emperor into a llama with just as obnoxious a personality as he had when he was human. The llama's one hope of salvation lies in befriending a kindly peasant (John Goodman), whom the Emperor has alienated by announcing that he intends to turn his cosy, hilltop cottage into a luxurious holiday home for himself.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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The customer is not always right. A bad movie can make many millions on its first weekend, purely on the strength of its name, stars and audience expectation. A good one can flop, especially if it's saddled with an awful title, an off-putting trailer and a troubled production history, and brought out in a week when it goes head to head with movies that have bigger budgets for publicity and marketing.

Such was the case with The Emperor's New Groove. It was far more entertaining than 102 Dalmatians, with which it came out simultaneously in the States at Christmas 2000, and an infinitely more pleasant experience than Hannibal, which it was up against in Britain, in February 2001.

It's sharp, intelligent and imaginative - and, though it makes no pretence at being the classiest Disney cartoon of all time, it may well be the funniest. David Spade, a sardonic comedian best known as sidekick to the late Chris Farley, proves a marvellous voice-actor as the anti-hero.

This originally started out as a far more serious musical, Kingdom of the Sun, based on Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, with numbers by Sting, only two of which - thank goodness - have found their way into the final version. Disastrous test screenings resulted in a major re-think, with a change of director and new screenwriting talent brought in from A Bug's Life.

The result is an unpretentious, sharply comic movie so zany and anarchic, it reminded me of the Hellzapoppin' team, or the great Warner Brothers shorts that featured Bugs Bunny. Much of the enjoyment comes from hearing the gap between disastrous reality and the Emperor's unreliable narration, reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse's magnificently self-deluding Bertie Wooster.

The Emperor's New Groove may not have the power to move audiences, like Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, but if you're looking for cinematic fun that the whole family can enjoy this is a safe bet.

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