The Emperor’s New Groove: An Underrated Classic

If you ever came across a talking llama, on a scale of one to ten, how frightened would you be? In the Disney animated film The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), a selfish young emperor Kuzco is turned into a talking llama by his power-hungry advisor Yzma and her assistant Kronk, gets stranded in the Peruvian jungle, and his only chance for survival is to work with a  villager named Pacha, a man whose home he had just threatened to destroy. Sounds like quite the adventure. The film was directed by Mark Dindal and stars David Spade as Kuzco, John Goodman as Pacha, Patrick Warburton as Kronk, and Eartha Kitt as Yzma. YouTubers Ben from SuperCarlinBrothers, CinemaSins, and Schaffrillas Productions in collaboration with 24 Frames of Nick, share their opposing views on the family fun comedy.

The humor is just so well executed and so well layered that even after having watched it 50 times … I’m still finding jokes I haven’t heard before.

Easily one of his favorite Disney animated films, YouTuber Ben from the channel SuperCarlinBrothers still finds the comedic tones of the film laughable as an adult viewer and is constantly quoting from it. In agreement is YouTuber Schaffrillas Productions who believes the film's usage of nonsense humor hits every comedic mark with younger and older audiences.

That’s something that’s great about this movie, its thorough engrossment in nonsense humor. But there’s a difference between nonsense for the sake of appealing two-year-old and nonsense in terms of telling jokes that are so absurd and inexplicable that you really have no choice but to laugh.

He notes the voice acting also plays an important role in enhancing the comedy, citing actors Patrick Warburton and Eartha Kitt as portraying a hilariously over the top scheming duo.

The diner scene is absolute comedy gold. Probably my favorite scene in the movie based on how great the comedic timing is … it's hysterical and filled to the brim with manic energy.

On the contrary, YouTuber CinemaSins finds some of the tropes used to evoke the comedic aspect of the film are too cliché and unoriginal. He uses the example of when Kuzco and Pacha are caught by Yzma and she attempts to pull up her skirt to reveal the knife she is hiding as they both cringe and look away because the appeal of an old lady showing off her body disturbs them.

The idea that Disney just made an ‘evil old lady’s vaginas are scary’ joke, and that is somehow not the strangest part of this movie, is all you need to know about the insanity of this film.

Or when Pacha attempts to perform CPR on a seemingly unconscious Kuzco, Kuzco wakes up in a frantic state thinking he was about to be kissed by the old villager obviously misinterpreting his intentions.

I’m not sure exactly when we should have been done with the people misinterpret mouth to mouth as a kiss trope, but it may actually have predated color film.

CinemaSins also notes the many illogical explanations throughout the film. How is it possible for Pacha to recognize Kuzco as a llama just by the sound of his voice? “That is a David Copperfield level of WTF man.” How is it possible for Kuzco not to realize that he was slowly turning into a llama when his neck extended into the air changing his visual perspective completely? Yes this is a Disney film, but there has to be some sort of baseline for logic, says the YouTuber.

Kuzco doesn’t notice that his neck just extended two feet even though his vision/perspective had to have changed as well. He just keeps talking. This movie is fucking lazy.

Despite a few illogical plot themes pointed out by CinemaSins, the other YouTubers find The Emperor’s New Groove a highly entertaining movie which probably should have been a part of the Disney Renaissance films. Ben feels the movie’s constant setbacks in its six-year production and a string of not so great movies that preceded the film, contributed to its lack of audience and exposure, making it one of the most underrated films.

The Little Mermaid launched what is known as the Disney Renaissance where in the 90’s we had 10 movies in a row from Disney that were all back to back classics. This period of time no doubt redefined Disney’s style and the peak of which absolutely came with The Lion King which brought in nearly a billion dollars.

Because of the circumstances not completely related to the actual film itself, The Emperor’s New Groove isn’t as popular as some of the other films that were created in the same era of animation, says Ben who finds the film to be hilarious every time.

It is easily the funniest Disney movie. It’s not laughs a minute, it’s laughs a second.

One big aspect that Schaffrillas Productions and 24 Frames of Nick consider the best and biggest selling point of the film is the development of Kuzco’s character arc and the friendship between Pacha and Kuzco.

It has its own zing factor in the form of not only some of the best comedy and zaniest animation in Disney history, but it legitimately has the best character arc Disney has ever put out.

Disney does an excellent job in giving us this character who is so selfish, so unlikable, and he can pretty much be considered the villain in the beginning of the film, and transform him into a selfless and caring friend.

He’s the most dynamic protagonist in Disney animation history because he literally goes from a villain to a hero and you believe every moment of his transformation, what a guy.

YouTuber 24 Frames of Nick points out as a young boy watching the film, it appealed to him because of the building of a real friendship between the selfish Kuzco and selfless Pacha, who despite being hurt and back stabbed by Kuzco over and over again, does everything he can to help Kuzco realize the errors in his own judgment of himself and how he treats others.

This is just wholesomeness. This entire movie just creates that wholesome bond of friendship where by the end of the movie you feel glad that these dudes are just able to hang out.

The Emperor’s New Groove is streaming on Disney+.

YouTubers Ben from SuperCarlinBrothers, CinemaSins, Schaffrillas Productions and 24 Frames of Nick, rate and review new movies and TV shows on their channels regularly.