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The Emperor's New Groove

review by Eric Dahl


Rated G

Studio: Disney

Running Time: 77 minutes

With the voices of David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton

Written by David Renyolds

Directed by Mark Dindal

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: 3 "Behind the Scenes" Featurettes: The Research Trip, The Character Voices, and Creating Computer-Generated Images, Deleted Scene "The Destruction of Pacha's Village", Sting Music Video "My Funny Friend and Me", Rascal Flatts Music Video "Learn To 'Walk The Llama Llama'", Interactive Game "The Emperor's Got Game", Audio Commentary with director Mark Dindal, producer Randy Fulmer, and assorted Disney artists

Specs: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Digital to Digital Transfer, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Chapter Search (28 Chapters), THX-Certified

In the year 2000, Walt Disney Pictures released it's annual animated feature. It was released to (mostly) great reviews which praised the movie for it's great sense of humor and perfect voice casting.

This movie was "The Emperor's New Groove".

Originally a serious period epic named "Kingdom of the Sun", the film was given a complete overhaul and change of tone, turning the serious period epic into a light-hearted comedy which was dubbed "The Emperor's New Groove".

"The Emperor's New Groove" is the story of Kuzco (David Spade), a practically heartless teenaged South American emperor, who after firing his personal advisor, Yzma (Eartha Kitt), is the object of her limitless anger. A mishap involving Yzma's not-so-bright cohort Kronk (Patrick Warburton) in which extract of llama is mistaken for poison, concludes in Kuzco being turned into a llama instead of killing him. The rest of the movie is about the relationship between Kuzco and Pacha (John Goodman), a simple peasant who's home is endangered by Kuzco's summer home plans, how Pacha leads Kuzco back to his palace so that he can turn back into a human and stop Yzma from taking over his empire, and how Kuzco eventually grows a heart (so to speak).

Taking a sharp veer from it's previous habit of taking a serious story and adding some humor into it, Disney here, as mentioned before, has made a full-blown comedy, and I must say, it works wonderfully. This is Disney's funniest movie in years. A lot of why the movie works so well is due to the perfect voice casting. David Spade as Kuzco, John Goodman as Pacha, Eartha Kitt as Yzma, and especially Patrick Warburton as Kronk really bring their characters alive with vivid and hilarious performances.

Even if you don't like Disney's animated features that much, by all means, give this one a shot. It's probably Disney's best since "The Lion King" and it's funniest since "Aladdin".

The anamorphically enhanced 1.66:1 transfer is probably one of the best that I've ever seen. Colors are bright, vivid, and beautiful, and the picture is sharp, sharp, sharp. I didn't notice any pixellation or artifacting at all. The picture has almost has a 3-D look: the picture seems to jump out at you. This transfer looks AMAZING.

The film has both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. The surrounds aren't put to much use other than ambient noises or the films playfully energetic score. The front soundstage is great with perfect sounding dialogue coming from the center channel. The .1 bass channel is used primarily for the music score, but it does get a little workout with the effects from the movie. All around, a pretty good mix.

First, the "Behind the Scenes" featurettes. These don't really go in-depth at all, other than the "Character Voices" one, and are just short little insights on their respective subjects.

Character Voices: This featurette shows interviews with the main cast about their take on their characters, and also with the animators and how they integrated some of each actor in their respective characters. This featurette was a little over five minutes long.

Research trip: This featurette was about how the animators took a 10-day South American trip to do research on the culture and syles of artwork that eventually made their way into the finished movie. It would've been nicer if this featurette was a little longer and more in-depth. This featurette was one minute and twenty-five seconds long.

Special Effects: This featurette was about how CGI animation was integrated with traditional animation to make the movie. This was probably the most interesting of all the featurettes, as we are shown scenes from the movie that had computer animation in them, which I, personally, didn't even notice. (According to the animator hosting this segment, if you didn't notice, he did his job right.) This feature was two minutes and twenty seconds long.

Second, Sting's music video for his song "My Funny Friend and Me". This feature's description sort of is misleading. The feature has Sting talking about his ideas behind the song and his motivations for writing songs for a Disney movie with the beforementioned song playing in the backgorund. A nice feature, but not entirely accurately described.

Third, the Rascal Flatts "Walk the Llama Llama" music video. This is a silly little kids sing and dance along. A pretty annoying feature, but your kids will probably like it.

Fourth, a single deleted scene of the mock destruction of Pacha's village is included. As the director says in the introduction, the scene is a little dark and doesn't mix well with the overall lighthearted tone of the movie. I agree, but it was good of them to include it on the DVD.

Fifth, "The Emperor's Got Game". This is probably the highlight of the features. It's a little interactive trivia game where, by answering simple questions about the movie, you are supposed to get Kusco, the llama version, back to his palace before Yzma can. After that feat is accomplished, you are taken to Yzma's lab, given a choice of three colored vials, and are supposed to figure out the correct order to put them in in order to turn Kuzsco back into a human. It's not really difficult, considering there are only 6 possible choices. The real reason for playing this game is that the game is hosted by movie characters Yzma and Kronk, who are (surprisingly) voiced by the actors that did their voices in the movie: Patrick Warburton and Eartha Kitt. The exchanges that they have, hosting this game, rival the hilarity of some of the dialogue in the movie, which makes this extra a must-play.

Sixth, and finally, the commentary: The commentary is mostly the director, Mark Dindal, and the producer, Randy Fulmer, talking, but occasionally a Disney artist will "pop in" and comment on the proceedings. It's interesting and insightful, and there is some juicy and occasionally very funny trivia embedded in the talk. This is certainly not one of the most fufilling or hilarious commentaries I've ever heard, but it's definitely worth a listen.

I didn't know where else to put this, but at the end of the features seemed like a good place. A really cool feature that is employed when the French 5.1 track is used is that the opening credits that state "Walt Disney Pictures Presents" and "The Emperor's New Groove" are all changed to French. I have no idea how they did this, perhaps through seamless branching, but this is definitely worth a look.

With a flawless transfer, a good soundtrack, some decent supplements, and a hilarious movie, this disc is pretty much a must have. There is, however, a 2-disc special edition entitled "The Ultimate Groove" available which has a second disc devoted to supplements. If lots of extras just aren't your thing, go with this version, but if you want even more icing on the cake, I would recommend purchasing "The Ultimate Groove", which, although it retails for about ten dollars more than this version, I'm sure is worth the extra money.

(4/5 - NOT included in final score)




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