Tuesday, March 5, 2013

# 92: The Emperor's New Groove (2000)

Yzma: Fired? W-W-What do you mean, "fired"? 
[Kuzco snaps his finger and a servant comes in and writes down Yzma's "pink slip"
Kuzco: Um, how else can I say it? "You're being let go." "Your department's being downsized." "You're part of an outplacement." "We're going in a different direction." "We're not picking up your option." Take your pick. I got more. 
(courtesy of IMDB.com)

Code-name: Yzma 

Director: Mark Dindal
Type: Disney

Kuzco- David Spade
Pacha- John Goodman
Yzma- Eartha Kitt
Kronk- Patrick Warburton
Chicha- Wendy Malick

Again, going back to my childhood on this one, but this was around the time I was leaving it behind in favor of stuff that included live action... on a regular basis opposed to whenever I felt like it, mainly in sports films.

Like so many kids in my generation, we were raised on Disney movies and with the exception of a few, I loved all Disney movies, especially the fact there was a new animated film every year. Remembering stuff like this makes me really miss Blockbuster where you could just borrow movies... perhaps someday we'll jump on the Netflix bandwagon too, it's a lot cheaper than buying movies up front and less painstaking than waiting for them to come to cable.

Further up this countdown, my love of Disney animation will become a little more evident, but for now, I'll proceed.
A couple of things from my childhood come together here and stuff that's come into every day conversation, particularly in my own house, originated here. Whether it was in this movie or the Disney Channel series "Kim Possible," "booyah" entered our spoken language around this time and has no intention of leaving any time soon.
John Goodman was in a couple of my earlier movies, particularly dominate in "We're Back: A Dinosaur Story"... he's got such a knack for voiceover work and I love pretty much everything I'd seen him in.

But of course, this is a great deal of where my love of just listening to David Spade talk came from. LOVE the sarcasm and narcissism he brings to our young emperor Kuzco, nobody else could have managed to make this vain character so lovable.
Some might say that they take the ego to new extremes by having him occasionally narrate his own film. But with any coming-of-age story, things are at their most extreme at the beginning (having some old dude thrown out a window because he "threw off his groove") and as our hero learns the error of his ways and finds that elusive condition known as "humility," the craziness begins to subside.

Speaking of crazy...
I am quite aware that this was not Eartha Kitt's biggest gig in her entire career, but other than having her in the back of mind when I think of the droves of girls who portrayed Catwoman and the original singer of "Santa Baby," this is what I know her best for.
I'm sure a lot of other kids feel this way about certain people that brought voices to their favorite animated features and series.

Sometimes it is really hard to pick who I love listening to more... I think just because her voice is so unique, I'd have to give the prize to Eartha Kitt. Yzma would have fallen completely flat on her face under anyone else's direction.
She had me instantly in that moment in the trailer where she realizes she didn't poison Kuzco, she gave him a potion that turned him into a llama. I don't know where I saw the trailer for this, chances are extremely likely that it was another Disney movie (they sure know how to sell something, putting it on the VHS for their previous creation).

"What?! A Llama?! He's supposed to be dead!" 

It's about as random as the fact that Kuzco got turned into a llama. The movie is set in Peru where llamas are livestock and they make wool out of alpaca, so in some way, I suppose it makes sense. I'm sure I knew that it was a huge leap back then, making a movie about some dude that's turned into a llama.

Seriously, even when she scowls, I can't help but laugh. That voice is too much. And she is sorely missed. Feels like just yesterday when we heard that she died on Christmas 2008.

Yzma and Kronk also make for a great evil duo, in that they don't seem completely capable of accomplishing their goals. Or at least Yzma doesn't because Kronk's lack of intelligence can be a hindrance. 
This was the first time I heard of Patrick Warburton and have seen found him in "Seinfeld" re-runs and of course all "Family Guy" fans know him as handicapable cop Joe Swanson... ironically in a show full of idiots, he is cast as the only guy with tangible intelligence.

Kronk is so lovably dim-witted, though. That's part of his charm.

Those who don't know the plot, here are the rest of the essential details.

Kuzco is going on 18. He has recently fired Yzma, who has suspiciously been trying to "rule the world behind [his] back" and naturally, she swears revenge.
She randomly has this "secret" lab (hard to call it secret when Kuzco seems to know about it too) and there she decides to poison him. 

[BTW, Plan A sounds freaking hilarious with her voice: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... [laughs...I'll smash it with a hammer! ]

Kronk mistakenly passes her the vial that's "extract of llama" and makes him get rid of the body.  Because he's a henchman, he does seem to have something called a conscience. So we see a couple uses of the shoulder devil & angel cliché: one at the beginning and one towards the end (another exchange not to be missed).
The bag containing Kuzco ends up on a cart belonging to the villager Pacha, who just received word from Kuzco that he was going to put his summer home on his mountain top.

The two find out their predicament and an uneasy alliance forms. Pacha promises to take Kuzco back to the palace if he changes his mind about the "demolition." 
We have all the usual pit-falls one would expect in any of these odd couple sort of stories. Meanwhile, after finding that Kuzco's body wasn't disposed of, Yzma and Kronk are out searching for him.

Towards the end, they track down where Pacha lives. Luckily, he and Kuzco arrive there, letting Pacha's family know what's going on and the least they can do is stall.
Hilarity again enusing while we see Yzma and Kronk's glowing eyes in a dark closet, which they had been proverbially locked into. 

It's all very predictable come the very end and it's all well and good. I think the fun is more about the journey than the actual destination.

Part of me still finds it a little off-putting that Kuzco has this great change of heart & character and Disney decided to cash in with the animated series "The Emperor's New School"... which kinda proves that Kuzco has not learned a single thing from this journey.
The main thing it still had going for it was the fact Eartha Kitt continued to do the voiceover for Yzma, which I'm liable to guess she continued to do until the time of her death. [The series was cancelled a month and 5 days before her death, which leads me to believe it was cancelled because fans lost interest].

[Looking briefly over her IMDB profile , I must applaud her for overcoming so much in her life to become one of the most respected actresses the entertainment industry has ever known]

Combining witty dialogue (with plenty of one-liners to inject into your everyday life) with great, memorable characters, this is one of my favorite Disney movies... and if not one of their most underrated because I don't remember many people bringing it up after it came out.

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