After the laggy, somewhat disappointing 'Dinosaur', Disney managed to come back strong with a film that reminds us of how fun Disney can still be. Unfortunately for yours truly, I was still in a bit of a phase of not caring too much about animation, so this was one of the bunch of Disney flicks I missed out on in theaters.
It wasn't until a few friends started throwing quotes around from it in high school that I got curious. These quotes were always giving me a good chuckle, so I finally decided to rent it when it was fresh on video, and check it out (back when you could still do that). Lo and behold, I actually loved it, and I was kind of surprised at how much I did. It was refreshing to see Disney put its magic in the background and bring its comedy forward.
We meet a selfish, spoiled, power-abusing brat named Kuzco (David Spade), who happens to be the Incan Emperor. He spends his days talking down to people and being an overall egotistical jerk. He calls on the village leader, Pacha (John Goodman), to tell him that he plans to build a summer mansion in his village called "Kuzcotopia". He also fires his advisor, Yzma (Eartha Kitt) and her bumbling assistant, Kronk (Patrick Warburton). Yzma plans to revenge kill him with some poison, but, Kronk manages to mess up the mixture, turning Kuzco into a llama instead.
Eventually, Kuzco ends up in Pacha's care, mistaken for one of his llamas. Demanding to be led back to his palace, Pacha agrees to escort him, under the condition that he doesn't follow through with his summer home plans. Meanwhile, Yzma finds out that the assassination on Kuzco didn't go as planned, so she and Kronk set out to find him and finish the job. The big takeaway from this seems to be the aspect of teamwork, whether you're looking at Kuzco's dealings with Pacha or Yzma's dealings with Kronk.
While Kuzco and Pacha have to learn to work together to some pretty comedic results, for me, the best laughs come from Yzma and Kronk. Yzma just seems to try too hard, but Kronk's idiotic ways always result in her suffering somehow - be it cartoonish physical assault ("WRONG LEVEERR!") or just pure inconvenience ("It's called a 'cruel irony', like my dependence on you"). It's so very refreshing to see the villain be comedic again for the first time in a long time. It's almost like they gave Cruella DeVille a long-lost sister... or at least a distant relative, considering time frames.
I was very happy to see that this time around, the comedy didn't really wear thin like I thought it might. It has been quite a few years since I last saw it, so this viewing brought a bit of nostalgia to the table as well. It remains one of my Disney animation studio favourites, but in a different sort of way. This is one of few examples I can think of that just brings pure fun to the table, and there's nothing all too serious going on here. It's a comedy far before it's a drama of any kind, and that's, to say it yet again, refreshing!