Epic Disney Watchfest 13: Alice in Wonderland and The Emperor’s New Groove: A Wondrous and Groovy Review

If you recall, Brazle and I set out to watch every one of Disney’s traditionally-animated movies between March 11 and April 1. We did it!! Last Thursday, Brazle, Hayley and I watched the last film of the project, The Princess and the Frog. It was a super fun ride. Now, the only thing left is to complete my reviews. No sweat.

Before launching into Alice in Wonderland and The Emperor’s New Groove, I have to say – these movies are polar opposites for me. Emperor’s is one of my favorites while Alice is…..well, I’m unlikely to ever watch Alice again. I feel like you should know that. Alright, review time!!!!!!!

Alice in Wonderland

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Alice in Wonderland is bizarre.

I think Alice in Wonderland is really bizarre, so I decided to match its bizarreness by writing it a poem that might or might not have a meter. Here we go.

Oh Alice in Wonderland………….

Why are you the way you are? Why so strange? Why so bizarre? Why only useful potheads to harangue? When will you ever take time to explain?

With multitudinous cooks in the kitchen, I suppose the cause of your failure’s not hidden. You tell of a dream in a young pretty head; too bad you tell this dream, not another instead.

Uncle Walt micro-managed, that much is clear; you were his baby nigh on twenty years. But baby or not, you sorta turned out a trainwreck, despite his attention, you’re classical dreck.

Your story is pointless, your pacing is poor, it seems that your colors only serve to implore children to watch, to sit back in wonder, and in this you achieve the least of your blunders.

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Alice in Wonderland features some beautiful artwork.

For colors you have, and have them in spades, your hues are the kind that inspire free trade. Of weed, that is, remember the potheads? They are the ones who raised you from the dead.

For dead you were, Walt was ashamed. Upon your release you were battered and slain. The box office numbers were unkind it is true. That’s why Uncle Walt apologized for you.

“You betrayed dear Carroll!” cried pundits afar, Walt even said that your lead has no heart. Thus you were ushered away to the vault, left in the dark in your ugly gestalt.

But out of the ashes of thousands of blunts, were you reborn as a “head film” deluxe. Disney execs knew nothing at all of the hazy wave bringing you back from the vault.

Alice-White-Rabbit_l

It’s always 12:25 for Mr. White Rabbit

Soon you were alive! You were back in the world! Your whimsical notions finally served to compel a theatrical stint, a re-release, how strange it took drugs to make you un-deceased.

And now today, you can boast a score of 77% on RottenTomatoes what’s more, people don’t recall that you’re actually crummy so they feel fine giving away their money

For you, a really, really REALLY strange work who defied the odds and the pundits berserk to grow into a weird sort of butterfly, maybe you’re the caterpillar with the A, E, O U and I!

He was a smoker, are we sure it’s just hookah? Let’s get someone on this, cause maybe he took a really deep breath, and with a mighty exhale transformed into Disney’s strangest tale.

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This caterpillar might have transformed into a motion picture.

So Alice in Wonderland, bless your heart, you have some good qualities especially your art, but I can only give you a 6 out of 10, and unless I start smoking, I won’t see you again.

For a very, very long time.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, no please, stop, you’re embarrassing me. No no, please.

The Emperor’s New Groove

The Emperor's New Groove

Well, after writing a poem to Alice in Wonderland, I wonder if I should try to turn into a llama for my coverage of Emperor’s New Groove!!!!! I probably should. Actually, I just realized – turning into a llama may take awhile. Ugh! I guess I’ll just write a normal review, and if I ever turn into a llama, I’ll just do a vlog or something! I feel like that’s a winning idea!!

So, I really like The Emperor’s New Groove. It came out when I was a freshman in college, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t immediately “get” it. Like, I thought some parts of it were funny, but on the whole, I just didn’t totally appreciate it. Somewhere along the way, though, I finally figured it out. I don’t know how or when, but I finally realized that Emperor’s New Groove is very, very funny. Once I came to that conclusion, I bought it on DVD and never looked back.

For many years, it was the only animated Disney movie in my collection (not including Pixar films), so it has a very special place in my heart. Even now, though I’ve purchased a few others, ENG is still my favorite. Here’s what I like about it: it’s creative, it’s heartwarming and, most of all, it’s FUNNY. In all, I give The Emperor’s New Groove a 9/10 and highly recommend it.

I relish elaborating on this movie.

Creativity: I love the freshness of this film. Disney ran through the entire 90’s using the following formula: Broadway songs, plot based on existing story (usually a fairytale or children’s story), slapstick humor and excellent animation. It definitely worked, but somewhere around Hercules and Mulan, I feel like that formula got stale. The Mouse Guys had forgotten what it’s like to really step out and make something different, fresh and unique. Meanwhile, Pixar had just released Toy StoryA Bug’s Life, and Toy Story 2 – three films dripping with freshness. Even so, Disney still nearly trotted out another formula movie.

Kuzco is bored of formulaic movies.

Kuzco is bored of two things: kissing babies and formulaic movies.

ENG was originally supposed to be called Kingdom of the Sun or something lame like that until production COMPLETELY blew up. Kingdom of the Sun was to be a grand epic in the style of The Lion King (FORMULA! FORMULA!), but CEO Michael Eisner had misgivings about the film’s direction from very early in development. So, about halfway through, he hired Mark Dindal to help spruce it up. Dindal clashed with incumbent director Roger Allers, so the two guys started making what were essentially two movies. Eventually, Disney came up against some super major deadlines they HAD to hit, but Allers refused to meet those deadlines and quit. The crew then had something like two weeks to completely overhaul the project.

In those two weeks, Dindal and the rest of the production team brought Disney’s sensibilities forward about a decade. It’s crazy – instead of a staid “traditional Disney” movie, they conjured up something very different. The film has a faster pace than most Disney flicks, and there’s basically only one song (but a great soundtrack). It has really funny situational humor, and it pokes fun at itself. It’s a great movie, and it only happened because they had to hit some major deadline. Whatever. I’m just glad it happened. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Pacha is a nice guy.

Heartwarming: Disney has been pretty good in the heartwarming category over the years. In my review of Fox and the Hound, I specifically address how heartwarming the story is, and though I may not have addressed it, nearly every other film I’ve watched (except for Alice in Wonderland) has had at least one or two very moving moments. This movie does a nice job of cranking up the good feelings, too, except in a different way. ENG feels more Pixar-esque to me. I think it’s because the script plays the characters off each other so nicely.

I feel like that’s secretly what Pixar does best – they play characters off one another extremely well. Classic example: Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Woody is a great guy, very relaxed, loyal, but also very anxious of losing Andy’s affection. Buzz, on the other hand, it a complete Boy Scout. He’s much stiffer than Woody, and he think’s pretty highly of himself since he thinks he’s the Buzz Lightyear. And he’s newer. Put those two together and the story basically writes itself. It feels like that’s what happened in ENG – the production team just sat down, figured out the characters, and then blasted out a great script that really works and makes sense.

For example. Pacha and Kuzco. John Goodman is excellent as Pacha. He’s very endearing and comes across as the nicest guy ever. He’s a family guy and routinely thinks of others over himself. On the opposite side is David Spade’s Kuzco. Spade sounds whiney, so casting him as Kuzco was perfect; it really enhanced the feeling that he’s the most spoiled person ever in history. He never thinks of anyone but himself, so when Disney played those two characters off one another, they got an alchemical result that’s pure magic. Or pure Pixar. Regardless, it’s definitely heartwarming.

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Yzma doesn’t think it’s funny.

Funny: Guys, this movie is really funny. Really REALLY funny. Like, it’s it’s my favorite Disney movie because it’s so funny. I mentioned earlier that ENG has lots of situational humor; nothing has changed since you read that. It still has lots of situational humor. I especially love the “Spinach Puffs” scene when Kronk has to leave the room and Kuzco and Yzma are left alone. It’s really awkward, but it’s real, sort of like how Lumbergh from Office Space is hilarious because we’ve all had blowhard bosses like him. It’s great.

The movie also does a great job of poking fun at itself. The standout moment occurs when Yzma/Kronk beat Kuzco/Pacha to their destination following a long chase. Throughout the pursuit, the audience is shown a silly stylized map with little characters running on it denoting the progress of each party. Well, at one point, Yzma/Kronk completely fall off the map, ensuring in the audience’s mind that Kuzco/Pacha will arrive first. Turns out, Yzma/Kronk actually arrive before Pacha/Kuzco, and when they come face to face, Kuzco (or Pacha) asks “How did you get here before us?” Kronk pulls down the silly map from thin air and replies “Well, ya got me. By all accounts it doesn’t make sense.” And then the scene moves on. Brilliant. Love it.

KronkSpeaking of Kronk…man, that guy MAKES this movie. Like, David Spade is really funny as Kuzco, and John Goodman is touching as the family man, but this movie would truly be 50% worse were Kronk not in it. He is freaking hilarious. He loves to cook, jump rope, sing his own theme songs, and has frequent conversations with his shoulder angels. And then, if that wasn’t enough, he is able to talk to squirrels. Yeah, he to be versed in all the woodland creatures. Awesome stuff. I think that, next to the Genie in Aladdin, Kronk is the funniest Disney character ever. Actually, they might be equally funny. Kronk is AWESOME, and I would encourage you to watch just for his scenes.

So, in closing, The Emperor’s New Groove is awesome. It is creative, heartwarming, and funny. I give it a solid 9/10. Now, if you’ll excuse, I’m gonna crank up some more Kronk scenes on youtube.

Next Up: Cinderella and Atlantis: The Lost Empire 

Please comment below, and feel free to email me your thoughts at grant@grantstevensgroup.com.

Grant Stevens is a freelance writer originally from the greater Texas area. He now resides in the greater Oklahoma area, and when he’s not writing brilliant movie reviews, he loves to play piano, basketball, read, and watch more movies. He also loves studying apologetics. Check out his music at www.grantstevensgroup.com.

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