20. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Disney entered another Dark Age in the new Millennium with ideas that alienated their built in audience of the Disney Renaissance. They began making some films that either were modest hits or outright bombs, be they with critics or at the box office. Luckily, there were films like The Emperor’s New Groove that premise steered off the beaten path of the typical Disney path and entered the world of Looney Tunes-inspired humor. The studio took a risk and it paid off. It’s a road comedy which involves the arrogant spoiled brat Emperor Kuzco (David Spade) now turned llama having to reclaim his throne from the evil Yzma (Eartha Kitt) and her lovable oaf Kronk (Patrick Warburton). The only way to do so is to team up with a kind and caring villager he told off named Pacha (John Goodman) and, as per the case with most movies of this nature, hilarity ensues.
What makes this film work is how far the crew on the film strayed away from the typical formula and go into a route that greats like Chuck Jones would marvel at. They took a page from their competitors of the past did at Warner Bros. and created their own version. The comedy is top notch with sarcastic dry wit of Spade foiling the kindness of Goodman, the deliciously perfect visual gags and practically burning the forth wall to the ground. Yet, the true standout is the duo of Kitt as Yzma and Warburton as Kronk. These two are practically a comedic duo of epic proportions with Kitt as the straight man to Warbuton’s beautiful idiotic performance. These two make the film work beyond what it should be. This is a perfect break from the norm of Disney’s previous works.
Critic’s Quote: “Funky, funny and free of ersatz Broadway cheese.” – Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star, December 15, 2000
Signature Moment: The entire climax at the Emperor’s palace is simply a work of magic with constant changes in imaginative character transformations and more slapstick humor than one can handle.