The Emperor's New Groove

Subscribe to David Spade alerts

Facts and Figures

Run time: 78 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th December 2000

Box Office USA: $87.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $169.3M

Budget: $100M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Feature Animation

Reviews 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 108 Rotten: 19

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: David Spade as Kuzco, Michael Herbig as Kuzco, John Goodman as Patcha, Reinhard Brock as Patcha, Eartha Kitt as Yzma, Elke Sommer as Yzma, Patrick Warburton as Kronk, Thomas Amper as Kronk, Wendie Malick as Chicha, Pacha's Wife, Kellyann Kelso as Chaca, Pacha's Daughter, Eli Russell Linnetz as Tipo, Pacha's Son, Tom Jones as Theme Song Guy, Stephen J. Anderson as Stephen J. Anderson, Bob Bergen as Bucky the Squirrel, Patti Deutsch as Waitress, John Fiedler as Old Man

The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

How does Disney do it? How does the studio keep cranking out these cartoons that are so wildly entertaining and seemingly fresh even though it uses the same ingredients year after year?

"The Emperor's New Groove" has all the off-the-shelf elements of your standard Disney 'toon: Beady-eyed baddie? Check! Incompetent henchman? Check. Historical locale and/or exotic cultural setting? Check. Wisecracking animal sidekick? Check. Doofus male lead? Check.

Yet here I am again, absolutely loving this latest assembly line production because it's sprightly, clever and fun, fun, fun.

David Spade, whose snide and whiny routine usually annoys me no end, is perfectly cast as the voice of Kuzco, the spoiled brat monarch of an ancient Peruvian empire. Showing off how the whole world revolves around him, in the opening scene he looks into the audience and says "Watch this!"

"Butler!" he hollers, and instantly a (ancient Peruvian) butler comes running. "Cook!" he shouts, and a feast appears before him. "Theme song guy!" There's an animated version of Tom Jones, belting out a show tune (one of just two musical number in the movie).

Snotty egoist that he is, Kuzco isn't evil. He just has some lessons to learn -- he's a Disney cartoon hero after all. But his nefarious court magician is evil -- and arguably one of the great Disney villains. Her name is Yzma, she has that sucked-dry skin-and-bones look of a age-ravaged fashion maven (think Helen Gurley Brown crossed with Cruella DeVil) and the how-apropos voice of Eartha Kitt.

Yzma tries to kill Kuzco with poisoned wine so she can usurp his throne. But her bumbling, broad-shouldered, lantern-jawed lackey Kronk (Patrick Warburton -- Puddy on "Siendfeld" -- another stroke of genius voice casting) mixed up the poison with a potion that turns the emperor into a llama instead.

Trying to dispose of the evidence, Kronk dumps the animal outside the city, where llama Kuzco, very busy feeling sorry for himself, meets up with a peasant named Pacha (John Goodman) whose village the emperor was going to level to build himself a summer home.

Reluctantly Pacha agrees to help Kuzco get his throne back as long he doesn't destroy the village -- a promise Kuzco makes and breaks more than once in their adventurous journey back to the city.

What sets "New Groove" apart from other recent Disney cartoons is its hilariously self-aware sense of humor. Kuzco narrates the film himself in an attempt to persuade the audience he's just a misunderstood nice guy who did nothing to deserve this four-legged fate. When the story focuses in on Pacha, he freeze-frames the picture, reminding the audience "this movie is about me!" while scratching his companion out of the frame with a red marker.

This kind of comedy runs throughout the movie, as do Spade's sometimes droll, sometimes bleating ad-libs that make Kuzco feel even more like the sarcastic but pampered teenager that he is.

The animation is as seamless as we've come to expect from Disney, and Kuzco's llama face is so fantastically expressive that several good laughs come just from his blubbery mugging.

"The Emperor's New Groove" has a few minor shortcomings. Spade's dialogue ("gettin' down with my bad self!") will date the movie badly in years to come and the setting of aboriginal Peru seems almost random -- no attempt is made to enfold the culture into the story, as was done with "Mulan's" ancient China backdrop.

But while "New Groove" may not be a timeless animated masterpiece like "Beauty and the Beast," even with its recycled elements and its oh-so-Y2K airs, it's definitely the funniest and most seat-bouncingly fun of any animated feature since Disney revived the medium with "The Little Mermaid."


Subscribe to David Spade alerts


The Emperor's New Groove Rating

" OK "


More David Spade

Entourage Trailer

After making a name for themselves in Hollywood, Vincent Chase and his entourage of friends from Queens have finally made a movie. The only problem...

HAERTS - Interview Video

Brooklyn band Haerts released their self-titled debut album this year, and here they talk about how they first got into music, their lifelong friendship and...

Mark Ronson - Daffodils ft. Kevin Parker [Audio] Video

Mark Ronson will finally unveil his fourth album 'Uptown Special' on January 26th 2015 through his new label deal with Sony Music. He has teamed...

Meghan Trainor - Lips Are Movin [Live] Video

Meghan Trainor performs her latest single 'Lips Are Movin' at one of her favourite places in the world: an aquarium. The song features, alongside smash...


Bastille - Things We Lost In The Fire [Live] Video

Live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta, Bastille perform 'Things We Lost In The Fire', the final single from their debut album...

Bastille - Oblivion [Live] Video

Bastille perform their single 'Oblivion' live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta. The track followed Platinum hit 'Of The Night' and featured...

HAERTS - Be The One [Live] Video

Haerts perform an intimate live rendition of their song 'Be The One', taken from their self-titled debut album released in October 2014 through Columbia Records....

ScHoolboy Q - Hell Of A Night Video

ScHoolboy Q released his first number one with third album 'Oxymoron', and he now unveils the video to its latest single 'Hell Of A Night'...