G, 1 hr. 19 min. Directed by: Mark Dindal. Release Date: December 15, 2000. DVD Release Date: May 1, 2001.
In early December of 2000, I had accrued something like 24 leave days, since I hadn’t been able to take a day off since entering boot camp in April. I had been embroiled in learning a third language, the resulting salary drop caused by choosing to serve my country had led to a massive number of financial problems, the kind of problems I wouldn’t experience again until this year (after two years of unemployment and one year of being in the Department of Labor limbo zone), and I was totally stressed out. I decided to visit my parents in Ohio, in their newly built home and spend Christmas and New Years’ with my family. I hadn’t seen most of them in at least three years, so it was time.
When my mother suggested I go with her, my then four year old cousin, and my grandmother to see The Emperor’s New Groove, it sounded about as much fun as getting a root canal. I pissed and moaned for about an hour and then yielded to my mother’s endless nagging. I won’t ever admit this to her, but it was a good idea. This movie is, to my mind, the funniest Disney movie EVER. It’s been eleven years and I continue to make jokes about people having their own theme music from time to time when they’re doing something stupid. I’ve never really thought David Spade was funny in person. He always comes off as vaguely mean; someone who uses sarcasm to hide a number of personal insecurities, but he was genuinely funny here. David Spade and John Goodman combined in an odd couple duet made for a wonderful combination.
There isn’t much to comment on in terms of the animation. Everything appears kind of bold, bright and heavy. I’m not sure if that’s a nod to what’s supposed to be Peruvian style or not, but it’s very different from the movies we saw Disney produce in the 90s. The dialogue is snappy, and I suspect aimed more at the adults in the audience than the kids… which isn’t terrible but it’s a bit off the mark for what is probably the most famous cartoon production studio on the planet. Emperor didn’t seem to last long as a cultural artifact (something shared by a number of 90s Disney flicks), although Cuzco is, in my mind, one of the best heroes from the Disney stable.
For an original story, at least, for what I assume is a Disney original story, this is very good. Some of Disney’s original or what appear to be mostly original works aren’t so hot, but this was a fun, quirky ride. It appealed almost as much to my cousin as it did to the adults, which is no mean feat, but Disney seems to have a gift for pulling off that very feat. The characters are vibrant, although there are a few that feel a bit like caricatures of themselves: Yzma in particular, although Earth Kitt was an AWESOME choice for that role, and Kronk as the stupid henchman. I would have liked for some depth from both of these guys, but alas, they have to keep these short.
If you haven’t seen this yet, you should definitely get around to it.