The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
September 18, 2018 1:53 PM - Subscribe

Emperor Kuzco is turned into a llama by his ex-administrator Yzma, and must now regain his throne with the help of Pacha, the gentle llama herder.

Roger Ebert:
In animation circles the word "cartoon" is frowned upon, because it makes people think of a film that is six minutes long and stars Bugs Bunny, rather than a film that is 100 minutes long and grosses $200 million. I've trained myself to refer to them as "animated features," but now here comes Disney's "The Emperor's New Groove," and the only word for it is "cartoon." I mean that as a compliment.


"The Emperor's New Groove" began life, I understand, as quite a different kind of movie--a portentous, ambitious Disney feature along the lines of "Mulan" or "Pocahontas." Apparently that vein didn't yield gold, and some of the original footage was junked while other scenes were re-tracked and the original musical score was largely shelved. I don't know what the earlier version would have been like, but this version is a zany tonic, more upbeat and funnier than the lugubrious "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The movie doesn't have the technical polish of a film like "Tarzan," but is a reminder that the classic cartoon look is a beloved style of its own. When the Looney Tunes trademark came on the screen at the kiddie matinee of long ago, the kiddies would cheer in unison because they knew they were going to have unmitigated fun. "The Emperor's New Groove" evokes the same kind of spirit.
posted by zinon (28 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I could go on about my love for this movie, but I'll summarize: The first time I watched this (probably around age 13 or 14?) I laughed so much I lost my voice and couldn't talk the next day.
posted by Wretch729 at 2:01 PM on September 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

Basically same! I was about at the age where I didn't want to watch kids' movies anymore, but this movie is so funny. It gave me my first taste of the incredible Eartha Kitt, and it's still pretty hilarious today.
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:45 PM on September 18, 2018

I think this is a secret movie for the teenage babysitter, not little kids. Little Purr saw it this weekend, and was super freaked out. We also watched Mulan, and they were perfectly fine with it. I saw it in high school with a good friend, and we thought it was pretty funny. Disney movies sometimes have weird pacing for me, but it does hold up. We did get a kick out of Ozma turning into a kitty at the end.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 3:14 PM on September 18, 2018

I love Patrick Warburton's voice work in this one too. I rewatched it a few years ago, but before that his voice was what I most remembered about the film.
posted by Carillon at 3:16 PM on September 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

It was such an unexpected treat to watch this movie, and real-life David Spade will never top Llama David Spade.

It's really more like a Pixar or Looney Tunes movie than a Disney movie. Llama Kuzco is like a mix of Bugs Bunny snark + Daffy Duck mishaps, and it works.
posted by emjaybee at 3:28 PM on September 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

Warburton is great here.

I've seen the DTV sequel, it is...less good.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:30 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Don't forget Eartha "Why do we even *have* that lever?" Kitt. I'm old enough that my first exposure to Eartha was as one of the Catwomen in Batman '66. Thirty years after her 'purring evil', she totally nailed the Best Disney Female Villain ever, with no cattiness, just solid 'old crone'. And David Spade was a major risk that paid off: Kuzco was Disney's least sympathetic 'hero' ever, and it worked. And the two baritones, Warburton and John Goodman, perfectly personified two different kinds of sidekicks.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:17 PM on September 18, 2018 [8 favorites]

posted by merriment at 6:08 PM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Is this the best place for Charamanth's inimitiable Yzma is Best Princess?
posted by Jilder at 7:08 PM on September 18, 2018

"Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall."
"Sharp rocks at the bottom?"
"Most likely."
"Bring it on."
posted by Aznable at 4:50 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

pls bear with me because i have an extremely huge amount of EXTREMELY HUGE EMOTIONS about this utterly ridiculous movie, aka the finest thing disney has done to date.

this is a movie about indigenous americans. everyone in this movie -- protagonist, antagonists, sidekicks, bit parts, background choruses, even the fucking wildlife -- is an indigenous andean. like me. no one is weirdly stereotyped or has an accent played solely for comedic purposes. some of the characters, pacha's kids, look like me when i was little. and most importantly, the villains' skin color is not darker than that of the rest of the ensemble.

yes, it's a ridiculous kid's movie about a petty tyrant who gets turned into a llama and learns an important lesson about friendship and kindness along the way. it's also the sole mainstream english language film widely released from a huge studio that features pre-columbian indigenous americans unburdened by white people's presence.

i love this dumb movie more than i will ever have words to express.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:32 AM on September 19, 2018 [47 favorites]

My ex-roommate, who was a hardcore Disney fan, had declared this his favorite feature from their catalog, mostly because Kuzco reminded him so much of the narcissist uncle who had raised him, that he was actually predicting the lines Spade's voiceover was going to deliver before they were said. So take that for what you will.

Also: "Beeeeewaaaaaaaaaare the Groooooove!"
posted by radwolf76 at 7:05 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I could go on about my love for this movie, but I'll summarize: The first time I watched this (probably around age 13 or 14?) I laughed so much I lost my voice and couldn't talk the next day.

That's close to my reaction too, well, not quite to the point of losing my voice, but you'd have to change the age to 43 or 44, which either means you were pretty mature for your age, I was awfully immature for mine, or, as I prefer, a movie as amusing as this one can transcend the age barrier. I bought a copy and I don't even have kids.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:24 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'll turn him into a flea! A harmless little flea. And then I'll put that flea in a box, and then I'll put that box inside of another box, and then I'll mail that box to myself. And when it arrives? I'll SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER!

...or, to save on postage, I'll just poison him with this!
posted by Wretch729 at 7:24 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

also the original plot line for the movie was interesting, and had a bit more to do with actual incan mythology, but i don't think it would've been as good a movie, as it was a pretty formulaic disney romance situation instead of the dual bumbling buddy comedy that worked so well.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:43 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Previously on the blue: Mikey Neumann of Movies With Mikey talks about The Emperor's New Groove. That got me to watch the movie, and a bootleg of the behind-the-scenes documentary.

Before that, I had written off the movie as some daft "new era Disney nonsense," based on the trailer and the title alone, which it most definitely is not.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:46 AM on September 19, 2018

The documentary is The Sweatbox, created by Sting's wife which goes over the making over and how the movie got completely changed around. The wikipedia article makes it seem that lots of people didn't like the new direction it took.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 9:03 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh gosh, this is such a very good movie. Every casting choice is just perfect.

Yzma is my favorite Disney villain of all time and I love everything about her, right down to her funny little boobs right in the middle of her torso. (And of course, she doesn't let her age or body stop her from wearing exactly what she wants.)

Several years ago my mom and brother were having a heated argument over group text about which walker to buy my grandma, and I stepped in to break it up with this gif.
posted by phunniemee at 9:26 AM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

This movie, along with Lilo and Stitch represent my favorite Disney films post-renaissance. They embody the rudderless manner in which Disney was kind of fumbling after the usual process that had produced Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, and Little Mermaid, started to splutter and create missed expectations. Arguably, I might even admit to loving them more than the aforementioned greats of the 90s, if only because they're so damn fun.

It was this movie which made me re-evaluate my opinions of David Spade from just that guy on SNL to someone who was really entertaining. It's by far the funniest Disney film, ever (Stitch trades time for comedy with a bit more heart). Yet, at the same time, it kind of invoked aspects of early Disney films, which weren't afraid to be a bit silly (I mean, Robin Hood goes all over silly town with that snake and King John).

I really need to watch this again. SOON.
posted by Atreides at 11:02 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

That film is a masterpiece. And there's no other film I've seen that has so many quotable lines. When my partner and i dealing with things piling up we'll still quote to each other
"It's OK. We can work this out." Followed shortly by:
"Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall."
"Sharp rocks at the bottom?"
"Most likely."
"Bring it on."
posted by happyroach at 12:52 PM on September 19, 2018

It's not every day I get to share one of my all-time favorite YouTube videos, a song that somehow always makes it on my party playlists: SMASH IT WITH A HAMMA!
posted by guiseroom at 1:20 PM on September 19, 2018

Something about Yzma's skull-face and spider eyelashes is just so hilarious and it's definitely based on the Kitt's amazing bone structure, but like, turned up to 11.
posted by emjaybee at 1:52 PM on September 19, 2018

Still the film I hold up as my favourite feature to wear a Disney nameplate at release. This being MetaFilter, I will always remember this imagined quote from the director: "Nope. I don't want to make another dull 'meaningful' dramatic musical. Screw it. We're downing a bottle a Jim Beam and re-writing this baby."
posted by MarchHare at 3:15 PM on September 19, 2018

"For the last time, I did not order a giant trampoline!"
posted by Mogur at 11:51 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

There was an FPP about "The Sweatbox", the documentary that Trudie Styler made about how Sting went from being all "woo sweet they're doing a Disney Movie about the Incas and I get to do the music" to "THEY'RE RUINING THIS MOVIE NOOOOOO". However, if you look at the comments, it very quickly turns into an Emperor's New Groove lovefest.

Hell, I'm a fan of Sting myself, and even was supporting him during his Lute Phase, and I still think this film sounds way more fun than what they were originally going to do with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on September 20, 2018

Atriedes: Hard second. My sister and I had memorized the soundtracks to Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Lion King, and yet I've to this day never seen Hunchback or Pocohontas. And then I saw this one, and Lilo and Stitch, and thought that maybe classic animation was here to stay.
posted by pykrete jungle at 5:56 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I actually didn’t like this the first time I saw it. I don’t know why, it just didn’t hit the right notes for me so many years ago. Last year I decided to give it another chance, and I loved it. I think when I first saw it I expected something like what we were used to from Disney at the time. But now I was able to see it for what it was - a movie that didn’t take itself Disney-seriously and was hilarious because they didn’t aim for that niche and instead wrote it to be fun. (Also, the scene that probably cracked me up the most was the kitchen scene.)
posted by azpenguin at 12:14 AM on September 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've been wanting to see this ever since I skimmed this thread when it was first posted and I just have to say, you were all so very right.

"Hey, I've been turned into a cow. Can I go home?"

posted by prize bull octorok at 2:41 PM on February 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

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