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The Emperor's New Groove
Standard & The Ultimate Groove Editions
DVD Review

The Emperor's New Groove

Theatrical Release: December 15, 2000 / Running Time: 78 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Mark Dindal

Voice Cast: David Spade (Kuzco), John Goodman (Pacha), Eartha Kitt (Yzma), Patrick Warburton (Kronk), Wendie Malick (ChiCha), Eli Russell Linnetz (Tipo), Kellyann Kelso (Chaca), Bob Bergen (Bucky), Patti Deutsch (Waitress), John Fiedler (Old Man)

Songs: "Perfect World" - Tom Jones, "My Funny Friend and Me" - Sting


Review by Captain Hook

Either you love it or you hate it. That's the only way to describe Disney's animated movie The Emperor's New Groove. Personally, I absolutely love it. The style of animation is a fun expression of Disney with its rigid lines and more stylized feel, bright colors set in ancient South America.

The movie begins with a sad llama sitting out in the middle of a rainstorm. We hear a voice over from the back speakers that this llama once was a powerful emperor, Kuzco (David Spade). He tries to make it sound like he's the victim but once his story begins, we see right through his act. Kuzco is one of the most arrogant and sarcastic people Disney has ever animated. After he fires Yzma (Eartha Kitt, Madame Zeroni from Holes), she and her henchman Kronk (Patrick Warburton) try to poison Kuzco, but accidentally turn him into a llama. Kuzco will have to learn to get along with peasant Pacha (John Goodman) if he ever hopes to make it home before Yzma and Kronk catch up with him.

Every time I think about this movie, I laugh out loud. Each scene makes you want to burst out laughing, such as Kronk's angel and devil, the wrong lever, and especially Yzma and Kronk's relationship. This humor is more adult humor in nature, not because of crudeness but because the sarcasm and uproarious parts usually don't make sense to child. This movie is quite clever in getting adults and teenagers to laugh.

The Emperor's New Groove was a total flop at the box office, and I believe this is due to terrible advertising. From the trailers, this movie appears to be very stupid. I decided not to see this movie in theaters, instead waiting until it came out on VHS. After watching it once, I loved it so much that I got the standard DVD for my birthday, and then bought the 2-disc Collector's Edition DVD a year later.

This review covers both DVD releases (they have the same video and audio, and many of the same bonus features). The standard DVD release has a four page insert with a chapter selection and the few bonus features, and the Collector's Edition has a fold out six page insert, which has a chapter selection and bonus feature navigation.
 

Buy The Emperor's New Groove Standard DVD from Amazon.com Standard DVD Details

1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French)
DTS 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
THX-Certified
Release Date: May 1, 2001
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
White Keepcase

Buy The Emperor's New Groove: Collector's Edition from Amazon.com Collector's Edition Details

1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French)
DTS 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
THX-Certified
Release Date: May 1, 2001
2 single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Black Double Alpha Keepcase

 
VIDEO and AUDIO

The quality of The Emperor's New Groove is probably one of the best transfers I have ever seen on a Disney DVD. The color is incredibly bright and vibrant, which it should be. There is no sign of grain, flecks, or any other transfer problems. The movie is in its correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and has been enhanced for 16 x 9 televisions.

The sound was even superior. Not only does this disc include the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 that we have come to expect from Disney, but also includes a DTS 5.1 track, a rare feature on animated movies from Disney. Does it make a difference? Absolutely! The DTS track is exceptionally excellent in the first scene of the movie during the storm. You'll feel like you're in a storm with the surrounding thunder and rain. The movie also has a French language track, as well as captions for the hearing impaired in English.

Main Menu

EXTRAS

The first disc holds mainly the games and music videos that families and children seem to be so inclined to (these are ALL available on the standard disc, though in a slightly different order).

The first extra is "The Emperor's Got Game", a relatively easy game where you must answer certain questions correct to get to Yzma's secret lab, and then you must randomly select some of Yzma's potions to mix together to get Kuzco back to being a human. Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton reprise their rules as Yzma and Kronk, respectively. Their comments to each other are amazingly humorous, especially when you miss getting a question correct. The only bad thing about this game is that it could very likely be the basis for The Emperor's Newer Groove, but we'll have to wait and see.

The "Audio Commentary" is hosted by Randy Fullmer and Mark Dindal, the producer and the director of The Emperor's New Groove. They are joined by many other individuals who worked on the project, including animators, background designers, etc. It is a great way to learn more about the movie and you'll learn some secrets (such as the cactus llama) during the commentary as well.

The Emperor's Got Game "Walk the Llama Llama" Music Video "Emperor's Action Game" Demo

Anything I could say negative about "Rascal Flatt's Music Video" (1:31) I would, featuring the song "Walk the Llama Llama". This was a waste of time and I don't know if children actually like this stuff or not. Anyway, at the end of the music video, Disney kindly reminds us to pick up the soundtrack of The Emperor's New Groove today! (I would if this song wasn't on it.)

The final extras on Disc 1 are the DVD-ROM features where you can visit the "Official Emperor's Website" and install demos of "Emperor's Action Game" (which is actually quite exciting and worth checking out) and "Emperor's Groove Center" on your computer.

Sneak Peeks available are Monsters Inc., Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, 102 Dalmatians and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which you can watch in the Sneak Peek Menu.

The second disc of the Collector's Edition is completely full of extras, comparable almost to a Platinum or Vault Disney release. (Five of these extras were ported over to the single-disc standard release.)

Randy Fullmer and Mark Dindal are Disc 2's hosts Research Trip "Kingdom of the Sun" Development Gallery

As the disc begins, producer Randy Fullmer and director Mark Dindal greet us in front of the Burbank animation unit and help the viewer "sneak" into the animation department. Randy and Mark are almost as much as a riot as Yzma and Kronk, reciting lines from the movies and having a good time with this and all the other introductions. This lasts for a little over 2 minutes, and then the viewer is teleported to the menu (of Yzma's lab).

"Get in the Groove" is the first extra listed, which combines many of the shorts in the other sections. The advantage is you can see all the features, but the disadvantage to this viewing mode is that you miss many of the galleries and comparison shots.

In "Development", the viewer first can watch "The Process" (3:17), "The Research Trip" (1:27) which was included on the standard disc, can read the "Story Treatment" (14 pages), view the extensive "Visual Development Gallery" (around 300 pages), and also look at the gallery which deals with "Kingdom of the Sun" (22 concept pictures). Mark has a 12 second introduction before you can view the gallery "Kingdom of the Sun", which was a much darker picture than The Emperor's New Groove ended up to be. It was more of a "Prince and the Pauper" story, with the wicked Yzma trying to destroy the sun (you can listen to a song Eartha Kitt sings on the soundtrack about this called "Snuff out the Light"). The most interesting picture in the concept gallery was "Pacha Saves the Sun", in which Pacha (with the help of llama Kuzco) puts the sun back into the air.

Next up is "Story and Editorial". Ryan and Mark return for "The Process" (5:21) with a little quiz, and then comes "The Pitch", with a 30 second introduction and three different versions of the story board pitch for "Perfect World". The first lasts 1:42, the second 1:44, and the final 2:34. The next feature is "Putting it up on Reels" (2:54), followed by "Deleted and Unused Scenes". Each is played with an introduction from Ryan and Mark. The first is "Destruction of Pacha's Village", (available on the standard disc) which is fully animated and almost completely colored. It is obvious that this 2:15 scene didn't fit the picture, as it has a much darker tone than the rest of the movie. However, it would have been interesting to see it in the final picture. The next scene "Pacha's Family" (7:00) was incredibly boring and I could easily see why they cut this family out and tried it again with Pacha's family in the film. The final scene is "Original Kuzcotopia Ending", which while I wouldn't want to hurt Sting's feelings (who wanted the scene changed to be more environmentally conscience) I would say that this would have been a really fun way to end the movie. Kuzco builds Kuzcotopia and has a big party in which everyone comes (including the guards who turned into animals!) It was fun to see, but the ending was even better: Kronk comes out of the kitchen and says, "I'm going to need a head count for dessert", when the angel and devil pop up and said in unison, "Got you covered big guy!" It would have been fun to see this actually animated an in color.

Deleted Scene: 'Destruction of Pacha's Village' "Character Voices" Featurette

The viewer then comes to "Layouts and Backgrounds", which has one of the best features, "The Layout and Background Departments" (3:49), which has some fascinating behind-the-scenes secrets about why they choose certain colors and areas. "Inside Scene Planning" had several extras, "Scene Planning" (3:34), "Story board to Background Comparison" where we see the story board and background play together. This is the scene where Kuzco first turns into a llama. This is with a 1:21 introduction. The next extra "Workbook Gallery" (32 pictures) has a 21 second introduction. The "Layouts" section has a 17 section introduction and the "Layout Gallery" (61 pictures). "Backgrounds", like "Layouts", had a 15 second introduction and "Color Key Gallery" (143 pictures) and "Background Gallery" (117 pictures).

After "Layouts and Backgrounds" comes "Animation". In this section the viewer begins with the feature "Animation Process" (4:34), then "CGI Props" (2:20) which was included on the standard disc. In the center of "Animation" is "Character Animation", which goes to its own menu. "Character Voices" (5:12) is included on the standard disc, and is a nice way to see the talented actors behind the characters, especially Eartha Kitt! There is also "Background to Rough Animation Comparisons" with an 1:24 introduction. "Character Design" takes you to each character Kuzco has "Animation Tests" (5:28), and "Character Design" (39 pictures); Pacha has "Rough Animation" (1:21) and "Character Design" (22 pictures); Yzma has "Rough Animation" (2:12) and "Character Design" (27 pictures); Kronk "Rough Animation" (40 seconds); Pacha's family (12 pictures) and Miscellaneous Characters (108 pictures). Back to the "Animation" menu, we go into the "Production Progression", in which there is a 35 second introduction and then you can use the angle feature to toggle between "Story Reel", "Rough Animation", "Clean-up Animation", and the "Final Scene" (again using the dinner scene). The final menu in "Animation" is the "Clean-up Animation", which has a 1:22 introduction. You can watch the "Rough Animation to Clean-up Animation Comparison" (again the dinner scene), and then look at "Character Model Sheets (~70 sheets).

The next menu the viewer can visit is "Putting it All Together". The feature "Ink and Paint/Composition" lasts 2:26. Then after a 1:23 introduction you can see "Clean-up Animation to Ink and Paint Comparison". There is also a 13 second introduction to "Color Models" (you can see 5).

"My Funny Friend and Me" Music Video Sound Mixing Demo

"Music and Sound" has the feature "Music and Sound Effects" (5:17), "Sting's Music Video: My Funny Friend and Me" (2:49) which is available on the standard disc, and a "Mixing Demo" with a 45 second introduction, where you can play around with the music, dialogue, and sound effects of a scene in the movie.

At last, "Publicity" has a 56 second introduction, two trailers (2:13 and 1:54), three TV spots (all 31 seconds) and 24 "Posters and Ad Campaigns".

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Either DVD is worth picking up; which one is right for you depends on how much you like extra features. The movie is sidesplitting fun and alone would have been enough to satisfy. The excellent sound and perfect video quality make things even sweeter. I recommend these DVDs to all! Boom, baby!

The Ultimate Groove (Collector's Edition) DVD

Standard DVD

Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD Home

Related Reviews:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) | The Lion King (1994)
Lilo & Stitch (2002) | Return to Never Land (2002) | Treasure Planet (2002)
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