This much underappreciated film is an animated comedy classic that, in my opinion, deserves to rank among Disney’s best. Yes, it doesn’t have princesses, lions, songs, or even a love interest (although isn’t the lack of that nice from time to time?), but it does have a murderous witch queen, an evil curse and jaguars! Close enough, I think. Plus, it includes that ever more popular “child + adult” humor mix – in a film released before that became really overdone.
Understandably, David Spade as the voice of an “Incan” emperor named Kuzco who has been transformed into a llama – yes, a llama – probably doesn’t sound like a winner, but the dryly sarcastic comedian does a pitch-perfect job. And in any case, the real stars here are Eartha Kitt as the evil queen Yzma (okay, she’s actually an empress) and the hilarious, as always, Patrick Warburton (aka, David Puddy) as her – how to put this delicately? – dim sidekick / arm candy Kronk. Just goes to show that playing the villain in an animated film really is a seriously fun job.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from The Emperor’s New Groove:
I’ll turn him into a flea. A harmless little flea. And I’ll put that flea in a box. And then I’ll put that box in another box. Then I’ll mail that box to myself, and when it arrives, [evil laughter] I’ll smash it with a hammer! It’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say! [a potion is knocked over onto a plant, plant dies] Or, to save on postage, I’ll just poison him with this!
Loooking for thisss? [holds up potion, then realizes she’s turned into a cute little cat with a small, squeaky voice] Is that my voice? Is that my voice?… Ah well.
[said angrily, as she’s smashing Kuzco-shaped stone heads placed in front of her by Kronk]
Who does that ungrateful little worm think he is? Does he… a little to the left… have any idea who he’s dealing with?
YZMA: It is no concern of mine whether your family has – what was it again?
PEASANT: Um, food?
YZMA: Ha! You should have really thought of that before you became peasants!
KUZCO: Okay, I admit it. Maybe I wasn’t as nice as I should have been. But, Yzma, do you really want to kill me?
YZMA: Just think of it as you’re being let go, that your life’s going in a different direction, that your body’s part of a permanent outplacement.
YZMA: And do you want to know something else? I’ve never liked your spinach puffs. Never!
[gasps from Kronk and his shoulder devil and angel]
SHOULDER DEVIL: That’s it. She’s goin’ down. [“cocks” pitchfork]
Oh, they’re so easy to make. I’ll get you the recipe.
Said I was sorry. Can’t just let it go, not even on your birthday.
KRONK: Oh, right. The poison. The poison for Kuzco, the poison chosen especially to kill Kuzco, Kuzco’s poison. That poison?
YZMA: Yes! That poison!
KRONK: Got you covered.
YZMA: Excellent. A few drops in his drink, and then I’ll propose a toast, and he will be dead before dessert.
KRONK: Which is a real shame, because it’s gonna be delicious.
[about Yzma] Whoa! Look at those wrinkles. What is holding this woman together? What the… [shot of spinach in Yzma’s teeth] How long has that been there?
He’s doing his own theme music?
[as Kronk hums a Mission: Impossible-esque tune, badly, while sneaking around the city]
KUZCO: [sing-songy] Soooo… whoooo’s in my chaaaair?
KRONK: Oh, oh! I know! Yzma! Yzma’s in your chair, right?!
KUZKO: [as if to a child] Very good, Kronk! Here. Get the snack!
[Kronk dives after snack, and falls off platform]
Spunky old man
GUARD: [coolly] I’m sorry, but you’ve thrown off the emperor’s groove.
[old man who destroyed groove thrown out palace window]
OLD MAN: Soooorrrry!!! [as he falls]
[in spooky voice] Bewaaare the groooove.
Oh, it’s not the first time I was tossed out of a window, and it won’t be the last. What can I say? I’m a rebel.
KRONK’S SHOULDER DEVIL: [to angel] Look at that guy! He’s got that sissy, stringy, music thing.
KRONK’S SHOULDER ANGEL: We’ve been through this. It’s a harp, and you know it.
DEVIL: Oh, right. That’s a harp, and that’s a dress.
KID: You know, I don’t believe that you’re really my great aunt. You’re more like my great-great-great-great-great…
[it goes on for quite a while – or, according to IMDB, 23 “greats”]
YZMA: Are you through?
KID: … great aunt.