163. The Emperor’s New Groove

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Movie: The Emperor’s New Groove

Release Date: December 15, 2000

Director: Mark Dindal

Starring: David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, Wendie Malick.

Tag Lines: “It’s All About… ME.”

“Nuttier than a holiday fruitcake!”

“King-size family fun.”

“Llama llama ding dong.”

“What a ‘c’hunk.”

“A comedy about standing on your own four feet.”

“Wooly Bully.”

“Beware the groooooooooove!”

“No touchie! Nooooo touchie!”

“Mingin’!”

“A new wrinkle on evil!!”

“Not Them… ME.”

Relevance: My son was only three (close to four), when ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ was released in theaters. As tempting as it was to take him to see it in theaters, I did not. I wouldn’t say I was a huge animated film fan, but when I saw the trailer for the movie, it really cracked me up. It got decent reviews but was considered a disappointment in the box office compared to other Disney releases. When I finally saw it in the Spring of 2001, I was shocked that it didn’t generate more revenue in theaters. It was fantastic.

I rented the movie with my then four year old son and the both of us laughed from beginning to end. It had to have been the funniest and wittiest Disney film we had ever seen. It’s not my favorite film from “the mouse,” as there were three more films from that company on my list of most influential movies of all time, but it is definitely one of them. It is one thing for a child to laugh at an animated film, but when the parents are laughing just as much or harder, you know it is a tremendous film. And that’s exactly what happened.

At the time, I was a store manager for a music and video store. The store had video monitors and we were able to play “family friendly” new releases while we worked. Thankfully, ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ was one of the approved movies to play. Instead of listening to music all of the time, a movie was a welcomed change of pace. The film quickly became a favorite of all my employees. It wasn’t long until we were all quoting it non-stop. “Well, he ain’t getting any deader!”

‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ remained one of my son’s (and mine) favorite films to watch. We owned it on VHS and eventually DVD and it was always a film we would randomly select to watch just so that we could laugh. Because one thing the movie did was always make us laugh.

Today’s Thoughts: “Ah, how shall I do it? Oh, I know. 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! It’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say!”

When my son saw the ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ DVD on our mantelpiece, he knew it was one of the upcoming films I would be watching as part of this project. At twenty-three, he excitedly said, “I’ll watch that with you!” My son rarely says anything excitedly. Unfortunately, he was not home today, so I had to watch it alone. So this morning I found myself laughing out loud to an animated film, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

The voice cast including David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton and Wendie Malick are impeccable. My son’s favorite character was always Kronk, voiced by Mr. Warburton. As funny as he is, no one, I mean no one, is better than the incomparable Eartha Kitt. Her Yzma is everything and then some. Pure comic gold. Although the villain of the movie, she is the funniest villain that Disney has ever created. There is not a scene with her in it that I am not at least smiling. More likely, I am laughing out loud. “Wrong lever!” “Why do we even have that lever?” That’s just good stuff.

‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ is totally underrated and deserves more love than it originally received. The animation is colorful, fun and fresh as is its music. I mean, that Tom Jones song is a catchy little number. The movie is a delight. It unfortunately did not have a successful sequel, but when the original is as good as this, none is needed. Do yourselves a favor and check out this Disney “should be” classic.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “My Funny Friend and Me,” Sting, Dave Hartley (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “My Funny Friend and Me,” Sting, Dave Hartley (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Song, “My Funny Friend and Me,” Sting, Dave Hartley (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Animated Feature (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Disney+, DVD Availability.

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