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The Emperor's New Groove

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Emperor's New Groove

Starring: David Spade, John Goodman
Director: Mark Dindal
Rated: G
RunTime: 80 Minutes
Release Date: December 2000
Genres: Comedy, Kids

*Also starring: Wendie Malick, Kellyann Kelso, Eli Russell Linnetz, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Disney's THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE, directed by Mark Dindal (CAT'S DON'T DANCE), is a throwback to those old cartoon movies with silly, paper thin plots and wisecracking characters. Without any pretensions and without wasting much time trying to entertain the adults in the audience, the movie is as carefully targeted to its intended demographics as a Saturday morning cartoon series. Any kid younger than 13 will undoubtedly love it. Older viewers may be less impressed, but it's a hard film to dislike. Even if there may be few outright laughs, the story keeps a smile on your face.

David Spade (LOST & FOUND) plays the leading part of the egotistical Emperor Kuzco. It is a part that manages to take advantage of David Spade's limited talents. Kuzco considers it part of his birthright to be able to abuse the peasants of his kingdom. He continues to do so even after his nemesis, Yzma (Eartha Kitt), turns him into a llama.

One such peasant is a llama herder named Pacha (John Goodman). Kuzco wants to wipe out Pacha's village so that he can build Kuzcotopia, a summer home that looks like a water-based amusement park. In one of the story's funniest scenes, Kuzco stops the action so that he can remind us that the story is about him. To illustrate this point he uses a marker to draw a big circle around himself and to obliterate Pacha. Following the standard buddy movie formula, Kuzco and Pacha are a pair of squabbling characters who eventually come to respect and help each other.

Perhaps the story's best character is Yzma's right hand man, Kronk (Patrick Warburton), a square jawed hunk that looks like Gaston from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Kronk, who speaks fluent squirrel, is low on IQ and common sense. His shoulder-based devil and angel figures who advise him are as stupid as he is. He does, however, make great spinach puffs.

Feeling in tone much like DreamWorks' THE ROAD TO EL DORADO, THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE doesn't break any new ground, but it is diverting for the adults and fun for the kids. My personal favorite part of the movie is the map shown to trace the character's progress on their way back to the palace. It is a plot device that we don't see much any more. Like most of the rest of the picture, it brought a smile to my face even if it didn't generate any outright laughs.

THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE runs a fast 1:20. It is rated G and is fine for all ages.

My son Jeffrey, age 11, saw the film with most of his sixth grade class, who liked the picture. I interviewed 4 of them afterwards. Jeffrey and Rajiv gave it *** 1/2, and John and Maxim gave it ****. They thought the film was funny and had a cute plot. They liked the way that the Emperor kept reminding us that the story was about him. Their favorite characters were Kronk, Kuzco and the cat.

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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