I fell in love with The Emperor's New Groove when I first saw it in the theaters five years
ago. Disney had outdone themselves in creating a fun animated comedy that was silly beyond silly in the
same vein as early Looney Tunes cartoons. The characters were lovable, the message relevant, and the animation
quality. It easily became my all-time favorite hand-drawn animated Disney feature. But in recent years,
Disney has commissioned straight-to-video sequels of many beloved animated films including The Lion King,
Lilo & Stich, Tarzan, and countless others. Naturally, despite the disappointing theatrical
success of The Emperor's New Groove, a sequel was announced for the film... the creatively
approached Kronk's New Groove.
Those who love The Emperor's New Groove agree that one of the best things about the film
is Kronk -- the slow, dumb, but lovable assistant to the evil sorceress Yzma. I was delighted when I heard
the sequel would be centered around Kronk, but concerned that making the film revolve around such a secondary
character as Kronk might not work. And while it isn't perfect by any means, it actually does work. And
what makes it work is that you already like him from the first movie. Those unfamiliar with The Emperor's New Groove
will most likely feel an outsider to an hour-long .
The strongest thing Kronk's New Groove has going for it, too, is that all of the original
voice cast has returned. The underrated Patrick Warburton is back as the title character, David Spade makes
a cameo appearance as Emperor Kuzco, John Goodman is back as Pacha, and even Eartha Kitt returns as
the evil Yzma. While some of the jokes in the film don't work as well as the filmmakers may hope they do,
there are plenty of grin-inducing moments when references to the first movie are made. In fact, just
seeing many of these characters back in the saddle was fun. The first half hour is probably the strongest
in the film as Kronk naively gets involved with Yzma again (who is now a human again as opposed to being
turned into a cat in the first film -- but bears a clever side effect from it) and then has to rectify
the mistake. While flashbacks tell a few subplots, the central theme is Kronk's desire to win the approval
of his father, Papi. The corniest sequence involves Kronk's meeting of a fellow Chipmunk camp leader
named Birdwell who he falls in love with. The two flirt a lot, with her even calling him "Kronky Poo,"
and it just seems rather cheesy at times. Some humorous moments ensue, but ultimately the strongest
moments in the film - and the most natural ones - were when Kronk and Yzma were interacting with each other.
Fans of the original will also love a few appearances from Kuzco who interrupts the film a couple times
and actually works himself into the story in one scene. Finally, the film also spoofs a few other popular
flicks including Lady & The Tramp, Titanic, and Lord Of The Rings, with
cute results. While I laughed at each one, I felt it slightly cheapened the film. The Emperor's New Groove
didn't rely on spoofs for its biggest laughs (a play on The Fly in a brief moment is really all
that comes to mind), and it helped give the story a stronger, more authentic feel.
Overall, Kronk's New Groove is a pretty good sequel to a movie that really doesn't need
a sequel. It's funny, creative, but not without flaws. Kronk's New Groove is not for casual
fans of The Emperor's New Groove and those who treasure the original may also not care for
the filmmakers tinkering with the storyline. I was a little fearful that Kronk's New Groove
would be an abysmal spin-off, but it is instead a fun little comedy for the family.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 12/18/05)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
For 2013, The Emperor's New Groove makes its Blu-Ray debut. It's vibrant, colorful, and absolutely crisp in picture. I just loved how it looks in HD. I originally picked up the 2001 DVD release when it came in a double-disc ultimate edition, and it was loaded with all kinds of extras -- so much so, that it had two discs and a map included inside to navigate the extras. On this set, the following extras are included... NONE. That's right, to my dismay, there are NO extras in this set! The only extra is the blu-ray version of the 2005 direct-to-DVD sequel Kronk's New Groove (full 2005 review here), but that's it. The packaging includes both movies on one blu-ray disc and then two DVDs - one for each film. I'm absolutely puzzled as to why not a single bonus feature is included here. This may officially be the more bare-bones Disney disc I have personally ever seen for an HD release (although the one for The Rocketeer was pretty thin too, but so was its DVD release--as opposed to Emperor's New Groove having had a wealth of extras).
After rewatching The Emperor's New Groove 2: Kronk's New Groove in 2013, eight years after its release, I have to admit it's about as disappointing as sequels come, but not nearly the train wreck that Atlantis 2 and Fox and the Hound 2 were. But, as it is, Kronk's New Groove is schizophrenic at best. While Atlantis: Milo's Return felt like three separate stories forced into one, Kronk's feels like two. They use the flashback method to tell two separate stories within one narrative that also uses a flashback. So, we literally have two flashbacks within a flashback that leads to the "present" of the story. It tries so hard to follow the exact formula that The Emperor's New Groove used, that it even opens with Kronk splashing about in a puddle of cheese fondue, like Kuzco pitifully sat sopping wet in alone in the jungle rain in the opening of the first film. And like Kuzco interrupted the first film to tell the story to get back to him, he interrupts this one a couple times just to be included. It reminds the viewer how much we actually miss him while the story involves everyone but the main character from the first movie. Cars 2 made the same mistake when it ended up being all about Mater the second time around. But, for Kronk's New Groove, the first half of the movie is really the best. Yzma returns, brilliantly having been turned back to a human with just a cat's tail remaining, but the wittiness does end there. Her grand plan this time? To swindle old people out of their money by selling them slime in a bottle as a "youth potion." It's stupid, and not nearly as fun as the first film, but it's kind of fun to see everyone back. The second half of the movie is a love story where Kronk meets Ms. Birdwell, a fellow Jr. Chipmunks counselor. She's basically a Mary Poppins type character, and their scenes together quickly get unbearable as they constantly call each other "Kronky Poo" and "Birdy Poo" (Birdy Poo. Yes. They went there). It's pretty painful. It all ends with a moral focus on being loyal to friends and doing the right thing, but it's tough to see how the journey getting to that resolution was worth it. (2.5 stars out of 5)
If you're a fan of the film and don't care about bonus features, this is the perfect set for you. But if you'd like more than just the two movies, you're out of luck. It's definitely the best picture presentation of the movie ever released, but the omission of bonus content is truly criminal!
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 6/2/13)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Sex/Nudity: We see Rudy from the chest up who is apparently nude from selling all of his clothes to get money to buy Yzma's youth potion. We then see him crouched, naked, clutching a bottle but his legs are positioned in a way that would block any nudity; Yzma tells Kronk she has a proposition for him and he acts all disgusted. When she reveals it's a business proposition, he acts relieved; Kronk and Birdwell make raisin bread together for their campers and the montage looks like it could imply other things, but it is most likely not intentional; Kronk tries to roll a flashback film and the picture of a deer pops up with the words "Stag Reel" and the sound of rock music. Kronk acts horrified, says "wrong film!" and changes it. (Stag Reel is a slang term for vintage porn)
Violence: Cartoon-style violence that includes an implication that birds would attack and potentially eat a villainous character, and other minor instances...
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most
reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.