This week, we watched the sequel to The Emperor’s New Groove: 2005’s aptly titled Kronk’s New Groove. Releasing 5 years after the original film, this story focuses on Kronk, Yzma’s sidekick voiced by the hilarious Patrick Warburton. Though Kuzco makes a couple of brief appearances, this is really Kronk’s movie, following his life after he turned his life around for good. All of our favorite characters are back- and with their original voice actors- including Eartha Kitt as Yzma, John Goodman as Pacha, and Wendie Malick as Chicha.
Those who are familiar with the history of The Emperor’s New Groove know that the film that we got was not the one that was originally intended. The movie was initially titled Kingdom of the Sun and would have followed an emperor on a very different journey and with a very different tone. For those who are curious about that version, I would highly recommend checking out the documentary The Sweatbox, which has never been officially released by Disney but can be found online. Though that version never came to fruition, the film we got was received well by audiences and, in my opinion, stands as the best Disney animated film of that period. It is surprising then, that I had never gotten around to seeing the sequel until now. And what a sequel it is!
Of the DisneyToon sequels I have watched so far, this one might be the best in terms of quality. Everything about the film feels almost up to theatrical standards. I say almost because it isn’t as good as the original, but is still entertaining from beginning to end. First of all, the writing is superior to almost every script that has come out of DisneyToon Studios thus far. Not only does it make Kronk an even better character by giving him a backstory, but it also presents challenges for him and allows him to overcome these challenges in a way that is fun and convincing (at least as convincing as it could be in a Disney film of this nature). The film is divided into several distinct parts that almost feel like mini-episodes in Kronk’s life. This works to the film’s advantage and allows us as viewers to never spend too much time on one part because of the rapid pacing. Therefore, we never get bored. In addition to the good story, the writing is also hilarious, with gags both visual and intellectual that had me laughing throughout.
We get three new major characters in this movie, who all fit perfectly within this world. There is Kuzco’s father, played by John Mahoney, and whose character design I found perfect. We get Rudy, a local elderly man played by John Fiedler, in his final role (Fiedler was also the voice of Piglet in the Winnie the Pooh franchise). Finally, a love interest for Kronk in the form of the delightfully British character Ms. Birdwell, played by the always wonderful Tracey Ullman. These three performances, as well as the performances of the returning characters, are top-notch and delightful across the board. Also, Yzma finally gets her own song, which I loved to see!
The film looks great as well, apart from a couple of CGI shots that have slightly dated the film. It feels like a natural continuation of the original, without a noticeably diminished budget that automatically makes the film feel cheaper (I’m looking at you, Belle’s Magical World). If one is looking for a good DisneyToon sequel, this would be my first recommendation and may even be a film that I will return to in the future (something I usually can’t say about these sequels).
Next week, we are watching Bambi II. Happy watching!