The Emperor's New Groove is a 2000 American animated buddy comedy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 40th animated Disney feature film and was directed by Mark Dindal from a script written by David Reynolds, based on a story by Chris Williams and Dindal. The voice cast features David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton, and Wendie Malick. The Emperor's New Groove follows a young and self-centered Incan emperor, Kuzco, who is transformed into a llama by his ex-advisor, Yzma. In order for the emperor to change back into a human, he trusts a village leader, Pacha, who escorts him back to the palace.
Development began in 1994, when the film was conceived as a musical epic titled Kingdom of the Sun. Following his directorial debut with The Lion King (1994), Roger Allers recruited English musician Sting to compose several songs for the film. Because of the underwhelming box office performances of Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dindal was brought in as co-director to make the film more comedic. Because of poor test screenings, creative differences with Dindal and production falling behind schedule, Allers departed, and the film became a lighthearted comedy instead of a dramatic musical. A documentary, The Sweatbox (2002), details the production troubles that The Emperor's New Groove endured during its six years of development.
The Emperor's New Groove was released to theaters on December 15, 2000. It performed disappointingly at the box office compared to Disney films released in the 1990s, grossing $169.3 million on a $100 million budget. However, the film found larger success when it was released for home media, and became the bestselling DVD of 2001. It received generally favorable reviews from critics, who praised it as one of the best films released during Disney's post-Renaissance era and the most comedic. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song "My Funny Friend and Me," performed by Sting, but lost to "Things Have Changed" by Bob Dylan from Wonder Boys. A direct-to-video sequel, Kronk's New Groove, was released in 2005, and an animated spin-off, The Emperor's New School, aired on Disney Channel from 2006 to 2008.
Kuzco is the narcissistic emperor of the Inca Empire, who routinely punishes those that "throw off his groove." After Kuzco fires his elder conniving advisor Yzma, she decides to take over the throne with the help of Kronk, her dim-witted but jovial henchman. For Kuzco's upcoming eighteenth birthday, he summons Pacha, a kind peasant and village leader, and proclaims that he plans to demolish his hilltop family home to build himself a lavish summer home called "Kuzcotopia." Pacha of course protests but is dismissed. In Yzma's secret lab, she and Kronk concoct to trick Kuzco into drinking poison at dinner.
During the 'farewell' supper, Kronk ends up giving Kuzco the wrong potion that transforms him into a llama. After knocking Kuzco unconscious, Yzma orders Kronk to dispose him and hide the body, but Kronk has a stroke of conscience and saves him from a reservoir fall. He accidentally drops him on the back of Pacha's cart and loses him as Pacha leaves the city. Pacha returns home but does not tell his pregnant wife or children about Kuzco's decision. Awakening in the cart, Kuzco is shock of his llama transformation and orders Pacha to take him back to the palace, but Pacha will only do so if Kuzco would build his summer home somewhere else. Kuzco haughtily sets off into the jungle alone, before being ambushed by jaguars. Pacha rescues him after coming down a waterfall. While spending the night in the jungle, Pacha lectures Kuzco that he will someday wind up all alone unless he changes his ways. On the contrary, Kuzco believes he is adored by his kingdom.
Meanwhile, Yzma takes the throne, but Kronk reluctantly reveals that he lost Kuzco. The two then set off to find him. In the morning, Kuzco feigns agreement with Pacha's demand. Pacha and Kuzco are almost back to the palace when Pacha falls through a bridge and Kuzco refuses to help him up, admitting he never meant to keep his promise. However, he soon finds himself in danger too then both fight till the bridge breaks, and nearly fell into a ravine but work together to save both their lives. With the bridge gone their journey is delayed, giving Pacha hope Kuzco will learn better. Both stop at Mudka's Meat Hut, a roadside diner, at the same time Kronk and Yzma arrive there. Neither party realizes the other is there until Pacha overhears Yzma and Kronk discussing about having Kuzco dead. Kronk briefly saw Pacha before running off to warn Kuzco. Convinced Yzma is loyal, Kuzco berates Pacha and returns to Yzma, only to overhear Yzma and Kronk are indeed seeking to kill him, and the kingdom does not miss him. Realizing Pacha was right all along only, Kuzco discovers he has already left, and wanders in the jungle alone in disgrace, finding it pointless to go back to the palace without making some sort of redemption. Later that night, Kronk then realize Pacha is the guy who had Kuzco on the back of his cart and figures he must have taken Kuzco back to his village.
A repentant Kuzco plans to live the rest of his life as a normal llama, but then he is reunited with Pacha. Kuzco apologizes for his selfishness before they set off towards Pacha's house to get supplies. When walking up to Pacha's house, they heard 'relatives' have come to visit, deducing their appearance matches Knock and Yzma's, to their horror. Pacha privately warns his wife and enlists her and children to keep Yzma and Kronk occupied while they make a head start. The race to the palace seems to end with Yzma and Kronk hit by lightning and fall into a chasm, but they still inexplicably reach Yzma's secret lab first. Yzma orders Kronk to kill Pacha and Kuzco, but Kronk himself cannot bring to commit murder, which leads Yzma to insult Kronk and his cooking and she drops him down a trapdoor. Yzma calls the palace guards who attack Kuzco and Pacha without hesitation, while Pacha and Kuzco escape with all the potions in hopes that they will find the one that will turn Kuzco back human.
After several guards are transformed into animals while testing potions and Yzma is transformed into a kitten, Pacha and Kuzco work together to try and get the last vial. Yzma steals it but is thwarted by the sudden reappearance of Kronk. Now a human again, and a more selfless ruler, Kuzco decides to build his summer home elsewhere, and Pacha suggests a neighboring hilltop. Meanwhile, outdoorsman Kronk becomes a Junior Chipmunk scout leader, with kitten-Yzma forced to be a member of the troop, to Kronk's delight. In the end, Kuzco is shown living next door to Pacha's family in a modest cabin, sharing a swimming pool with Pacha and his family.
- David Spade as Emperor Kuzco, the malevolent, narcissistic, and selfish 18-year-old emperor of the Inca Empire who pays no heeds to the needs of others. However, after transforming into a llama, Kuzco begins to realize the error of his ways.
- John Goodman as Pacha, a kind and caring village leader
- Eartha Kitt as Yzma, Kuzco's elderly advisor who seeks Kuzco's throne for herself
- Patrick Warburton as Kronk, Yzma's good-natured but dimwitted muscular henchman.
- Wendie Malick as Chicha, Pacha's caring pregnant wife
- Kellyann Kelso and Eli Russell Linnetz as Chaca and Tipo respectively, Pacha and Chicha's two young, rambunctious children.
- Bob Bergen as Bucky the Squirrel, Kronk's companion, who hates Yzma, and has an unpleasant encounter with Kuzco.
- Tom Jones as the Theme Song Guy, Kuzco's personal theme song conductor
- Patti Deutsch as Matta, a waitress at Mudka's Meat Hut
- John Fiedler as Rudy, a kindly old man who is first thrown out a window by Kuzco's guards, then later befriends the emperor.
- Joe Whyte as the Royal Recordkeeper
- Corey Burton, Jack Angel, Danny Mann, Bill Farmer, Phil Proctor, Eddie Korbich, Donald Fullilove, Paul Eiding, Philip L. Clarke, Brian Tochi, and Patrick Pinney as Male Villagers
- Sherry Lynn, Jennifer Darling, Mickie McGowan, and Cathy Cavadini as Female Villagers
- Jess Harnell as the Guard who throws Rudy out the window.
- Rodger Bumpass as one of the Guards who got turned into a Cow.
- Steve Susskind as an Irate Chef, a former chef at Matta's who quits due to Kuzco and Kronk.
- Miriam Flynn as the Piñata Lady
- Frank Welker as Llamas, Jaguars, Fly and Bees
- Jim Cummings and Kath Soucie as Birthday Singers
- Andre Stojka and Robert Clotworthy as Topo and Ipi, two of Pacha's villagers
- Mark Dindal as Cat Yzma
- The Emperor's New Groove at the Internet Movie Database
- The Emperor's New Groove at the Internet Movie Database
- TVGuide.com/movies: The Emperor's New Groove
- Teaching The Emperor's New Groove