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Walt Disney Home Video presents
The Emperor's New Groove: The New Groove Edition (2000)

"This is Yzma, the emperor's advisor. Living proof that dinosaurs once roamed the Earth."
- Kuzco (David Spade)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: November 02, 2005

Stars: David Spade, John Goodman
Other Stars: Patrick Warburton, Wendie Malick, Eartha Kitt
Director: Mark Dindal

MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:18m:19s
Release Date: October 18, 2005
UPC: 786936688368
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

We'll get this off to a raucous start with one of the more arguable statements of my reviewing career. The Emperor's New Groove is one of the funniest comedies of the new millennium. That's right, not one of the funniest Disney films (although it's pretty much the funniest Disney film in decades), but one of the funniest overall films to hit theaters over the last five years. And this is a movie starring the voice of David Spade for goodness' sake!

The main thing that this feature has going for it is its insanely witty screenplay. This work by David Reynolds (with a story by Chris Williams and Mark Dindal) is this smartly written, and just downright funny. I'm not sure if Reynolds had Spade, Patrick Warburton, John Goodman, and the rest of the voice talent in mind when he was writing this, but his dialogue plays perfectly to their strengths as comedians. That's another thing; almost every voice in the film comes from an actor/comedian that belongs on the B-list, at best. This could be a case of these being performers who are better heard than seen, but I think full credit should go to Reynolds and his written words.

Kuzco (Spade) is a young emperor who can think of no one but himself. This sharp-tongued teenager is as spoiled as they come, having had everything he could have possibly wanted since he was born. At the opposite end of the class structure is Pacha (Goodman), a peasant whose family's home is going to be destroyed so Kuzco can build a new home. Enter Kuzco's advisor, Yzma (Eartha Kitt) and her moronic muscular companion, Kronk (Warburton), who are fired by the emperor and can think of nothing but getting revenge.

When Yzma's attempt to poison Kuzco results in him turning into a llama instead, the emperor-llama makes his way to Pacha's house, where he meets Pacha's wife, ChiCha (Wendie Malick) and their children. Pacha eventually agrees to take Kuzco back to his palace, and their journey turns out to be an arduous, hilarious trek that just might bring these two opposites close together. That is, unless Pacha kills this llama first.

The main joy of the film lies in Pacha and Kuzco's journey back to the palace, as the two go at it with each other during the entire trip. However, Patrick Warburton's work as Kronk steals the show. He takes his deep, innocent yet stupid voice and brings his character to glorious life, as he inadvertently sabotages all of Yzma's devious plots. He's so good that the upcoming direct-to-video sequel, Kronk's New Groove, is all about him, and sure to be a showcase for what Warburton can single-handedly bring.

Everything works here, from the hilarious quips that come from out of nowhere, yet are always funny, to the animated Tom Jones that sings Kuzco's theme song. The film benefits from the near lack of musical numbers, and the tunes that are showcased are of the campy, lounge act variety, which only adds to the humor. I couldn't help but be reminded of the best of the Looney Tunes shorts, as its sense of humor is timeless, cynical, and as poignant as it can possibly be. The film works almost equally for kids and adults, but, even though there isn't anything harmful for kids, The Emperor's New Groove is definitely one of Disney's more adult-friendly projects. Although this new release might be a marketing ploy for Kronk's New Groove, any excuse to revisit this consistently engaging, downright hilarious animated film is welcome.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is the same one that's been featured on the other two DVD releases of the film. There actually didn't need to be many, if any changes to this transfer, as it was a solid one the first times around. The colors are magnificent, aided by splendid brightness and shadow levels that bring Kuzco's world to life on the small screen. Each animated image is very well-defined and sharp, and the presentation doesn't feature any print flaws or edge enhancement to hinder it.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio choices are also identical to the previous releases of the film, and, again, that's a very good thing. There's both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a DTS track, with either mix giving your home theater a solid work-out. The DTS is better than the Dolby Digital, but only slightly, and as a result of a louder mix and wider dynamic range. Bass is tight and aggressive during both tracks, while the dialogue is always easy to understand, regardless of the other audio elements in the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Lady and the Tramp: 2-Disc Special Edition, The Wild, Shaggy Dog, Kronk's New Groove, Tarzan: Special Edition, Valiant, Toy Story 2
2 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Producer Randy Fullmer, director Mark Dindal, art director Colin Stimpson, character designer Joseph C. Moshier, head of story Stephen Anderson, supervising animator of Kuzco, Nik Ranieri, and supervising animator of Pacha, Bruce W. Smith.
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music & More - Two music videos
  2. The Emperor's Got Game - Interactive Adventure Game
Extras Review: The extras on this new single disc are nowhere near the quantity of those that were featured on the previously released two-disc set. The same audio commentary track is offered, and this is just as nice a discussion with seven of the filmmakers as it was the first time around. Each of the participants has a lot to offer, with director Mark Dindal and producer Randy Fullmer doing the majority of the talking, touching on everything from what goes into making an animated film to screening their movie in front of an audience for the first time.

There's also a trio of deleted scenes, with only the first of these having been on the earlier DVD releases. These sequences are presented in a very raw format, with the "Original Kuzcotopia Ending" being the best of the three.

We also get The Emperor's Got Game, which is an interactive set-top game where you help Kuzco, who's now a llama, turn back into an emperor by answering a series of trivia questions based on your knowledge of The Emperor's New Groove.

A couple of music videos are also available, for the songs My Funny Friend and Me by Sting, and Walk the Llama Llama by Rascal Flatts.

Along with some sneak peeks for other Disney DVD releases, we also have three featurettes. The Research Trip is only about 90 seconds long, and it talks about what inspired the animators for this particular Disney picture. The Character Voices is a five-minute piece that shows the lead actors recording their parts and talking about what it was like to work on the feature. The last piece, Creating Computer-Generated Images is a pretty self-explanatory two minutes of raw computer animation footage with 3-D effects technical director Ian J. Coony.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

One of the most underrated animated films in Disney's canon gets another DVD release in the form of The Emperor's New Groove: The New Groove Edition. This third DVD release of the film is actually a step back from the 2001 "Ultimate Edition," (in terms of quantity of extra material and the loss of the THX-certification) but there are some nice new extras and the same nice audio and video from that release. This is a nice single-disc option for those who don't already own the previous version.


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