DVD Review: The Emperor's New Groove - The New Groove Edition
Release Date: October 18, 2005
Distributor: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
· Mark Dindal
· David Spade: Emperor Kuzco/Narrator (voice)
· John Goodman: Pacha (voice)
· Eartha Kitt: Yzma (voice)
· Patrick Warburton: Kronk (voice)
by Paul Schultz
Published: November 10, 2005
Grooving its way in and out of theaters rather quickly in 2000, this
overlooked animated Disney gem is being released in its third incarnation on
DVD. A bare-bones release followed its original theatrical run, and then
there was The Ultimate Groove 2-disc collector's edition,
which should have been the end of it. This curious bit of
triple-dipping can only be seen as Disney trying to milk a cash cow to
preview some of its newer releases, like the upcoming direct-to-video sequel to this adventure, Kronk's New Groove. Basically, if you already own
any other DVD of this movie you certainly won't need this one, and if you
haven't taken the plunge, then by all means immerse yourself in the world of
Emperor Kuzco and company with this "new groove."
Disney marketing ploys, though, shouldn't keep you away from this story full of sarcastic wit. Kuzco is the self-centered teenage emperor of a pseudo-Incan society, intent on giving himself a grandiose birthday present by building a huge waterpark. That its location trashes one of his kingdom's villages doesn't even appear on his moral radar. Kuzco's rather frightening advisor, Yzma, ("Living proof that dinosaurs once roamed the Earth") throws off the emperor's "groove" and gets herself fired. In retaliation, she and her hunky/dopey sidekick, Kronk, scheme to poison Kuzco. This goes a bit awry and, rather than dispatching the emperor, they instead turn him into a llama. Kuzco, in his new form, winds up at the home of Pacha, in the very village destined to be leveled by the young emperor's selfish plans. Pacha agrees to help Kuzco get back home in exchange for him not destroying his home territory. Kuzco has to learn some hard lessons along the way, like "it's not all about me." Their misadventures are punctuated with
funny banter, as when they find themselves tied to a tree branch floating in a river:
It's really a pretty simple story, which is a refreshing reprieve from Disney's
normally epic cinematic endeavors. Of course, this was original
plan until it tested poorly with audiences and devolved in scope and
(thankfully) musical numbers. Sting's Academy Award-nominated song
"My Funny Friend and Me" survived from that score, as well as Kuzco's
"theme song." The producers originally wanted Sting to sing the opening song but he said he was too old and that they need someone more hip and younger. So, instead they went with Tom Jones, who ages Sting by about a decade, and the performance is better for it.
Kuzco: Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall.
Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom?
Pacha: Most likely.
Kuzco: Bring it on.
The audio commentary consists of seven of the filmmakers coming in when their particular animation responsibilities hit the screen, with director Mark Dindal and producer Randy Fullmer keeping it all focused. There are plenty of insights gained, and other trivia nuggets divulged such as this being the first Disney animated feature to show a pregnant woman (Pacha's wife, ChiCha). At a brisk 78 minutes, the movie is over before you know it, but this lighthearted comedy will leave you thoroughly entertained.
Deleted Scenes include one full-produced sequence with the emperor's troops practicing the destruction of Pacha's village, and two storyboard-only scenes -- Pacha's family, and the original Kuzcotopia ending. All have opening commentary by the producer and director.
The Emperor's Got Game is a cute and simple (except for the somewhat difficult trivia questions) interactive game where you help Kuzco, who's now a llama, journey back home and turn back into an emperor.
Rascal Flatts Music Video of "Walk the Llama Llama" only
lasts about a minute, which was about the length of my attention-span.
Sting's Making The Music Video shows the behind-the-scenes production of "My Funny Friend and Me." They never show the final video,
however, which I found particularly annoying.
Behind The Scenes is an exceptionally short look at the making of this picture. In less than ten minutes, you get "The Research Trip"
which talks about how the animators came up with set designs, "The Character Voices" briefly interviews the lead actors and shows them recording their parts, and "Creating Computer-Generated Images" goes through some raw computer animation footage with the 3-D effects technical director. That's it.
Sneak Peaks include Lady and the Tramp (Special Edition 2-DVD Set), The Wild, The Shaggy Dog, Kronk's New Groove, Tarzan, Valiant, and Toy Story 2 (Special Edition 2-DVD Set).