Emperor's New Groove [2000]

Director: Mark Dindal
Stars: David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, Wendie Malick
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rating: G (General Audience)
Runtime: 78 minutes

Originally developed as an epic called Kingdom of the Sun, The Emperor's New Groove lost scale and most of Sting's song score (some of which can be heard on the soundtrack) on its way to the screen. The end result is the lightest Disney film in many a moon, a joyous romp akin to Aladdin in its quotient of laughs for kids and adults. The original story centers on the spoiled teenage emperor Kuzco (David Spade), who enjoys getting the best of his Aztecan subjects. When he fires Yzma (Eartha Kitt), his evil sorceress, she seeks revenge and turns Kuzco into a llama with the help of her hunk of the month, a lunk named Kronk (Patrick Warburton). Alone in the jungle, the talking llama is befriended by Pacha (John Goodman), who has just been told to vacate his pastoral home by the human Kuzco. What's an ego to do? That's pretty much the story and the characters--simple, direct, fun--a Disney film on a diet. For any fan of the acidic humor of Spade, this is essential viewing. As narrator of his tale, Kuzco uses a sarcastic tone to keep the story jumping with plenty of fun asides (he even "stops" the film at one point to make sure you know the story is about him). Even better is character actor Warburton (Elaine's stuck-up boyfriend on Seinfeld), who steals every scene as the dim-witted, but oh-so-likable Kronk. There's even a delicious Tom Jones number that starts the film off with a bang. --Doug Thomas

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