The Emperor's New Groove
Alternate Title: Kingdom Of The SunThe Emperor's New Groove (Kingdom Of The Sun) (2000) Feature Length Theatrical Animated Film
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- Walt Disney Pictures
- Animated Characters: Emperor Kuzco/Narrator, Pacha, Nina, Yzma, Kronk, Chicha, Chaca, Tipo, Theme Song Guy, Bucky the Squirrel, Waitress, Old Man, Official.
- Awards: Academy Award Nominee, Best Music, Original Song, "My Funny Friend And Me" (Music: Sting, David Hartley.
Lyrics: Sting), 2001.
Golden Globe Award Nominee, Best Original Song, "My Funny Friend And Me" (Music: Sting, David Hartley.
Lyrics: Sting), 2001.
Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Character Animation, Dale Baer, 2001.
Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Feature Production, Eartha Kitt, As the Voice of "Yzma," 2001.
Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for a Song in an Animated Production, David Hartley and Sting, For the Song "Perfect World," 2001.
Nominee, Annie, Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature, 2001.
Nominee, Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production, Mark Dindal, 2001.
Nominee, Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music Score in an Animated Feature Production, John Debney, 2001.
Nominee, Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production, Colin Stimpson, 2001.
Nominee, Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production, Stephen J. Anderson, 2001.
Nominee, Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production, Don Hall, 2001.
Nominee, Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Feature Production, Patrick Warburton, As the Voice of "Kronk," 2001.
Nominee, Annie, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production, Mark Dindal and Chris Williams, 2001.
Nominee, Black Reel, Theatrical -- Best Supporting Actress, Eartha Kitt, 2001.
Nominee, Blockbuster Entertainment Award, Favorite Family Film, 2001.
Bogey Award, Germany, 2001.
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, Best Song, Sting (Composer/Lyricist) and David Hartley (Composer), For the Song "My Funny Friend and Me," 2001.
Artios, Best Casting for Animated Voiceover -- Feature Film, Ruth Lambert, 2001.
Nominee, Golden Trailer, Best Animation/Family, 2001.
Nominee, Grammy, Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, David Hartley and Sting, For the Song "My Funny Friend And Me," 2002.
Nominee, Blimp Award, Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie, David Spade, Kids' Choice Awards, 2001.
Nominee, Sierra Award, Best Family Film, Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, 2000.
Nominee, Sierra Award, Best Song, Sting, For the Song "My Funny Friend And Me," Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, 2000.
Nominee, Golden Reel Award, Best Sound Editing -- Animated Feature, Tim Chau (Supervising Sound Editor), Thomas Whiting (Supervising ADR Editor), Nils C. Jensen (Sound Editor), David Kern (Sound Editor), Albert Gasser (Sound Editor) and Donald Sylvester (Sound Editor), 2001.
Nominee, Golden Reel Award, Best Sound Editing -- Music -- Animation, Paul Silver (Music Editor), 2001.
Nominee, Golden Satellite Award, Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media, 2001.
Nominee, Golden Satellite Award, Best Original Song, Sting (Composer/Lyricist) and David Hartley (Composer), For the Song "My Funny Friend And Me," 2001.
Nominee, Young Artist Award, Best Family Feature Film -- Animation, 2001.
- Originally Released in 2000.
- Running Time: 78 minutes.
Cartoon Production Information:
The Emperor's New Groove has one of the more troubled production histories of any Disney animated feature. In its over six years of development and production, the story went from its original concept as a more traditional Disney musical entitled Kingdom in the Sun to an adaption of the Hans Christian Andersen, to whatever the final product Dindal turned it into is.
When he wrapped up on The Lion King in 1994, Roger Allers immediately started work on this project, then titled Kingdom of the Sun. Also on board was supervising animator Andreas Deja, famous for his flamboyant villains, and producer Randy Fullmer. In a bit of an animation coup, they brought in Sting to do the music on the project.
The story was very similar to the The Prince and the Pauper with a greedy, selfish emperor (voiced by David Spade) who finds a peasant (voiced by Owen Wilson) who looks just like him, and the two switch places. Deja's Yzma catches wind of the switch and turns the real emperor into a llama and threatens to reveal the pauper's identity unless he becomes her slave. The emperor-llama learns humility in his new form, and even comes to love a girl llama-herder. Together, the girl and the llama set out to undo the witch's plans. From there we would proceed to a standard happy Disney-style ending.
Seeing a story too similar to many other existing The Prince and the Pauper stories (including at least one from Disney itself!), and seeing Allers as essentially lifeless, the studio brought in Disney effects editor and Warner Bros.'s Cats Don't Dance director Mark Dindal. The hopes were that Dindal could add some music, some comedy and bring the story to life. What happened was the project was split in two- Allers' sweeping epic version and Dindals' singing and dancing version.
At the beginning of 1999, production had still not started, and this put the July 2000 release date in jeopardy. With deals already in place, the release date was set in stone. Under pressure to perform or quit, Allers left the film. Producer Dindal, Fullmer, halted production for six months to retool the project and, with writers Chris Williams and David Reynolds, overhauled the film completely.
When the four reviled their new film, everything had changed. It was now titled The Emperor's New Groove, and was now a buddy film. Gone were the sun-capturing plot, the look-alike peasant, and the llama-herder love interest, and animator Andreas Deja, who moved to Florida to work on Lilo & Stitch. And the Sting music...
Ultimately, the budget blossomed to over 100 million dollars. In its theatrical release, the film brought in about 170 million gross.
- "Perfect World"/"Perfect World Reprise," Performed by Tom Jones, Produced by Sting and David Hartley, Arranged, Orchestrated and Conducted by David Hartley, Recorded and Mixed by Frank Wolf;
- "My Funny Friend and Me," Performed by Sting, Produced and Arranged by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for Flyle Tyme Productions, Inc., Co-Produced by "Big Jim" Wright for Flyle Tyme Productions, Inc., Recorded by Dave Rideau and Steve Hodge, Mixed by Steve Hodge.
This was the 40th film in the official Disney list of animated films.
Of the recent breed of "hip" Disney cartoons, The Emperor's New Groove is probably the most painful. It seems geared to the "Seinfeld" generation, that prefers irony served up in huge doses and lightning pacing. (The villainess' dopey sidekick is voiced by Patrick Warburton, who rode a similar role to fame on "Seinfeld.") But chances are, the same audience which wants to distance itself from emotion wouldn't be caught dead at a Disney cartoon in the first place.
The Emperor's New Groove is only the second Disney cartoon feature not based on a previous story, and in those places where irony can't carry the story, it suffers greatly. The plot concerns Kuzco (Spade), an egocentric emperor of a vaguely Aztec society. As is par for the course in this kind of cartoon, Kuzco is unaware that Yzma (Eartha Kitt), his assistant, wants to do him in and take over his reign.
Yzma gives Kuzco an intended poison, but the liquid only changes Kuzco into a llama (talk about side effects). Yzma's dopey henchman tries to drown him but doesn't quite pull it off. And in the most contrived of coincidences, Kuzco falls into the hands of a humble llama herder (John Goodman) who teaches the snarky leader that he has to consider other people's feelings. Amazing, the wisdom that can be obtained from a llama herder.
But this lesson is hardly the movie's main point, anyway, as it is preceded by a very long hour of commentary and commentary-about-the-commentary by Spade and the movie's makers. The movie can't attempt the simplest of gags without joking about itself, to show the audience how "cool" and distanced it is. There's always an inherent problem in this approach: If the moviemakers can't take their own scenario seriously, why should we?
As with most latter-day Disney product, the animation is sumptuous, and there are some elaborate sight gags that by rights should have us rolling in the aisles. But just when the movie starts to engage us, Spade does his this-guy-needs-Ritalin routine and brings the whole thing to a halt again.
Countless dollars and man-hours were spent trying to convince us that people are hanging from huge cliffs being chased by deadly villains. And yet the movie has nothing as engaging as, say, Rugrats in Paris' simple image of a child's late mother floating across the clouds. Maybe the Disney people need to examine their own company's legacy instead of trying to copy their lessor imitators.
Review By: Steve Bailey
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