Walt Disney Animation Studios has made tons of hilarious films throughout the many decades they've existed. Some notable examples have included "Aladdin" and "Zootopia", but if there's one film that easily stands tall among them all, it's without a doubt "The Emperor's New Groove". When released in 2000, the film didn't do amazingly at the box office mainly because Disney was putting more effort into marketing "102 Dalmatians", but thanks to its release on home video, it has since become a well-deserved cult classic in Disney's vast catalog and it's a film that always makes me laugh every time. It's not just the funniest animated film that Walt Disney Animation Studios has made so far, it also stands tall as one of the funniest animated films ever made.
In the Incan empire, the teenage emperor Kuzco (David Spade) has been serving his duties being both very spoiled and selfish. His arrogant nature even comes into conflict with others including the good-hearted villager Pacha (John Goodman) when Kuzco wants to build a summer home on the hill where Pacha's family has lived for decades as well as Kuzco's crazy advisor Yzma (Eartha Kitt) whom he fires for doing his duties. When Yzma doesn't take her firing well, she begins a plan with her dim-witted assistant Kronk (Patrick Warburton) to poison the emperor and become empress herself. However, her plan goes haywire when Kronk mistakes the poison for a llama potion which ends up turning Kuzco into a llama, not to mention that Kronk ends up losing him when the bag with Kuzco ends up on Pacha's wagon and taken far to his village. Hoping to change back into a human, Kuzco teams up with Pacha to help get back to the palace before Yzma can finish the job.
As I stated at the beginning of the review, Walt Disney Animation Studios truly has made many hilarious animated films over the years, but none come close to topping this film. This is an animated film I always enjoy watching for a good laugh and the fact ended up as great as it was is a miracle given this film had one of the most chaotic productions for an animated film ever. For those that don't know, this film initially started off as an animated musical entitled "Kingdom of the Sun" which would've been from the co-director of "The Lion King", Roger Allers. However, the film suffered in test screening and execs became worried the film was not going to work out after "Pocahantas" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" both underperformed at the box office. Eventually, Allers left the project entirely and director Mark Dindal was brought to fix the film and turn it into a full-on comedy though keeping some plot elements, a handful of the characters, and even some of the cast like Spade and Kitt. And boy, he surely did take that straw he was handed and spun it into cinematic gold. This film is basically if Disney Animation had made a Looney Tunes film and I mean that with the highest praise I can muster. While the story itself is very simple, it makes up for it with its comedy. The comedy in this film is some of the funniest and most energetic you'll see in an animated film ever. The film is filled with joke after joke and pretty much all of it lands. Even though I knew most of the jokes having seen this film so many times throughout the years, I was still laughing so hard when watching this film and quoting so many of the memorable lines the characters say. There are so many hilarious moments in this film that I can name. From the hilarious dinner scene where Kuzco is turned into a llama which has one of the funniest jokes in the background involving a cactus, the banter that Pacha and Kuzco have before going over a waterfall, and the hilarious banter between Yzma and Kronk as they try to find out where Kuzco is while Kronk is communicating with a squirrel. Not to mention, the film has tons of great moments where it breaks the fourth wall. As far as the animation goes, it's top-notch as well.
Director Mark Dindal's previous film, the Warner Bros. Animation musical "Cats Don't Dance", has some of the most bombastic and energetic animation ever put to the screen and you can see a lot of that energy here as well. This film has some of the most energetic character animation that you'll see in a Walt Disney Animation Studios film. There are a lot of hilarious expressions and fast-paced moments put into the character animation and it really pays off and enhances the comedy a lot. I also liked how the backgrounds as well with a notable highlight being during a jaguar chase where the backgrounds changed color which reminded me a bit of the work of Maurice Noble that was in the cartoons of Chuck Jones. Then there are the characters who are also incredibly funny and well-rounded. The chemistry between Kuzco and Pacha is fantastic. Kuzco is a really funny protagonist and also a character that does really experience some great development. While he does start off as being rather selfish and arrogant, he doesn't come off as unlikable mainly due to David Spade's charismatic performance and the growth he has by the end of the film where he gets some humility and selflessness is well handled. Meanwhile, Pacha works in contrast due to his kindhearted nature and wanting to see the good in everyone though he isn't afraid to call out on Kuzco's selfishness with a fantastic performance by John Goodman. And that brings us to the villains who are easily my favorite characters in the film. Watching the crazed diva queen Yzma being paired with dimwitted Kronk never fails to make me laugh as they both work off each other perfectly and are just as goofy as they should be. Plus, they both also have excellent chemistry as Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton clearly had the time of their lives playing them.
Like I said, "The Emperor's New Groove" truly is one of the funniest animated films ever made. The story is hilarious and has top-notch comedy, the animation is energetic and lovely, and the characters are all fun and have great chemistry with one another. This is truly the funniest animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios and I can't recommend it enough. If you're looking for a film that is a great time to watch and laugh, this film has just the groove to do the trick.