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  Emperor's New Groove, The It Speaks!
Year: 2000
Director: Mark Dindal
Stars: David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, Wendie Malick, Kellyann Kelso, Stephen J. Anderson, Eli Russell Linnetz, Bob Bergen, Roger Bumpass, Tom Jones, Robert Clotworthy, Jennifer Darling, Patti Deutsch, John Fiedler, Joe Whyte
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Do you see that sorry-looking llama sitting dejected in that jungle clearing getting soaked in the rain? That, believe it or not, used to be the Emperor of the Incas (voiced by David Spade). I know what you're thinking, that couldn't possibly happen, but it did and the Emperor himself will tell you how. It all began after a life of pampering where he could do whatever he wished and had his every request granted, so he was, although he could never admit it, not a very nice guy. One day, after informing one villager, Pacha (John Goodman), that his house would be demolished to make way for the Emperor's latest holiday home, he was unwise enough to cross one of his advisors...

A bad idea when that advisor, Yzma (Eartha Kitt), has it in her power to create magic potions that can, ooh, I dunno, turn someone into an animal, perchance? Once she is sacked and we have established that the Emperor is heading for a long overdue fall, the story, in the form of a typical Disney morality tale, can get underway. Originally this was to be an ultra-expensive epic set in the land of the Incas, but that was scrapped halfway through to transform it into a far lighter, some might say throwaway work that did its best to pack in the gags.

It still cost a lot of money, and was a box office disappointment at the time, showing how Disney seemed to be returning to the dark days of the nineteen-seventies where they couldn't do much right in the eyes of their usual audience. Unless the films were being made by the studio's Pixar division, of course, and their 2D, more traditional designs were not making the waves that they had been used to in the nineties, something which the purists lamented. This meant that there was a definite modest feel to these films which did them no favours.

And The Emperor's New Groove was little different from that, but in its undemanding manner there were those who took pleasure in its goodnatured silliness. With a title like that, you might expect something of the old folk tale of the Emperor's New Clothes to be the theme, but unless those clothes are subsituted for a llama's body, then the allusion is an odd one. The film does have the plotting similar to a fairy story, which while lightly handled, does teach the main character a life lesson in treating others well, only occasionally heavy handedly.

Yzma gets the Emperor to drink the potion unwittingly after he sacks her, and instead of dying he becomes a talking animal, a neat twist on those Disney chatty creatures. Yzma sends her dimwitted sidekick Kronk (a splendid performance from Patrick Warburton) to get rid of the llama by bumping him off, but the oaf is too soft-hearted to do that so abandons him in the jungle, where he encounters Pacha once more. They become a double act, with Pacha making the Emperor see the error of his ways, it's all very much as you would anticipate with very few surprises. The casting is nicely done, with Spade ideal and Kitt having fun, and with pretty much every character played for laughs this is brightly handled. It's just not very deep and only mildly witty, and the moral looks trite. Music by John Debney and David Hartley.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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