A young emperor, named Kuzco, wants to build a summer resort for his 18th birthday. Then Pacha, a caring peasant as well as the village leader, whom Kuzco doesn’t respect, complains about him building the resort on his hut. But Kuzco couldn’t care less.
Meanwhile, his advisor, Yzma, wants to become the next ruler. She creates a potion that she intends to kill him with. But he gets turned into a llama instead.
While unconscious, after transforming into a llama, Kronk, who assists Yzma, carries Kuzco in a sack… only to discover that he’s alive. He dumps him into a cart, which happens to belong to Pacha.
After Pacha recognizes Kuzco as a llama, Kuzco asks him to take him back to the palace. But he refuses – unless Kuzco changes his plans to not build his resort on top of his hut.
Kuzco won’t accept the deal; so, Pacha gives up with him, and he runs off into a jungle.
Meanwhile, back at the palace, everyone thinks Kuzco had lost his life. There is even a funeral scene, similar to that part in The Lion King, after Mufasa dies, where Yzma gives a speech about Kuzco, and then her people take over as she becomes queen.
There are many great moments from this film. I loved the idea of a theme-song guy for the movie’s opening as well as the clever and humorous dialogue.
One part that stands out during that segment is when Kuzco’s servants are feeding him while he lies down. I thought to myself, Isn’t that bad for your digestive system? But what could anyone do? It was always Kuzco’s way, or the high way.
Another enjoyable scene takes place in a restaurant where Kuzco cross-dresses to hide from Yzma. Later, she gets there. While reading the menu, a few waiters sing a made-up Happy Birthday song: “Happy, happy birthday, make all your dreams come true…” And Kronk comes out of the kitchen (the chef got so angry about food-order modifications that he gave the job to Kronk), laughs, and asks, “It’s your birthday?”
But for some reason, Yzma never told him about it. And after so many years of being around her, Kronk never learned her birthday? I guess that’s cartoon logic.
I also admired the Wizard of Oz reference in a scene where there are various potions in a secret room. The line it was derived from was “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.”
And then there’s the squirrel with the balloon animal. Who knows how the creature got it?
That being said, there is one aspect that didn’t please me, and that was Kuzco. Yes, he’s the main character—but I disliked how he treated others.
Although he didn’t yell (he even reminded me of the trash planet ruler in Thor: Ragnarok), he disrespected everybody, aside from his servants, and abused his power.
I especially felt frustrated when Kuzco refused to change his mind over and over again—even when he turned into a llama and wanted to return to his palace. Does Kuzco become a better character? You’ll have to see the movie to find out.
Pacha was more likable, and he reminded me of Sully from Monster’s Inc. Not just because the same man who voiced him also voiced Sully, but his behavior was quite similar. That included his ability to empathize and show compassion.
I give “The Emperor’s New Groove” 5 out of 5 stars. It is a lighthearted and funny film that the entire family will enjoy.