03 July 2008

Ink Blots - The Emperor's New Groove

The Emperors New Groove busted into movie theaters in 2000 earning $89 million on a $100 million budget... a loser after a long string of profitable animated features stretching back to 1991's Beauty and the Beast (well Fantasia 2000 also lost money, but it was its own kind of animal). Also, many people argue about when the Disney 90's Golden Era ended. Some say after the Lion King, others argue that it stretched all the way through Tarzan, but most would agree, New Groove lands after that era. One of the reasons for that is that New Groove marked the split from the successful Disney musical.

The Emperors New Groove was originally conceived as a musical, South American take on the Prince and the Pauper titled Kingdom of the Sun. Much like Elton John did for The Lion King and Phil Collins did for Tarzan, Sting was going to write songs for the movie, but that version of the film never came together and the whole project was nearly scrapped. In the end, Sting wrote the closing credits song My Funny Friend and Me, and the movie became a buddy comedy. This turned out to be one of those instances where Disney was the copycat as The Road to El Dorado, a similarly themed Dreamworks movie had been released 9 months prior - though I do not know which went into production first. Anyways, El Dorado was also a box office disappointment. After New Groove came a trio of Sci-Fi themed movies, Atlantis, Lilo and Stitch, and Treasure Planet, all which lacked the hallmark Disney musical aspect.

Well, that was a lot of background, but the truth is, New Groove may be overlooked for being atypical. It really is kinda funny and unique. I would easily rank it above other non-classics like The Great Mouse Detective, The Sword in the Stone, or Aristocats. The whole story revolves around an evil sorceress who wants to kill the king, but her henchman (more bumbling than evil) Kronk keeps fouling things up, for example, he turns him into a llama instead of killing him. It stars David Spade, perfect for the sarcastic tone of the film, as the selfish king Kuzco turned llama, John Goodman as the common man Pacha, and Patrick Warburton as the bumbling Kronk who steals the show. There is one scene in which Kronk goes to order some food at a restaurant, and through a series of events jumps in during lunch rush and serves out orders like a pro. He is also adept at speaking squirrel. Kuzco and Pacha start off as adversaries but as you would expect, end up as friends.

Anyways, the movie is vibrant and manic, but ultimately a little to predictable in plot in spite of a fresh style of humor. The Emperors New Groove may not be remembered as a classic, but it shouldn't be totally forgotten. B-


j said...

I saw this in the theater and at the time was pretty disappointed for some of the reasons you gave here, mainly the lack of good songs.

Then after it was out on DVD, there was a week where I saw it three times I think, and it really grew on me. So much so, that I really like it a lot now, and own a copy on DVD. I think once you can stop thinking about the fact that its not a Disney classic, it becomes much easier to just enjoy it. And yes, Kronk is so, so, so funny.

Chip Chief said...

3 times in a week? what are you 12? :) the sad thing is the kronk voicer is in also in bee movie, but he is terrible. did i mention bee movie isnt so good?