"KRONK’S NEW GROOVE"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Patrick Warburton as KRONK
Tracey Ullman as MS. BIRDWELL
Eartha Kitt as YZMA
David Spade as KUZCO
John Goodman as PACHA
Wendie Malick as CHICHA
John Mahoney as PAPI
John Fiedler as RUDY
Directed by: Elliot M. Bour & Saul Andrew Blinkoff
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You’ve gotta hand it to the Disney machine. Whether a film’s a hit or not, they will release a direct-to-DVD sequel sometime in the future. While “The Emperor’s New Groove” wasn’t the biggest ink-and-paint bomb in recent history, it also was a phenomenal hit. Still, they managed to bring back the entire cast for another go-round with these crazy Incans.
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In this new animated film, Kronk (Patrick Warburton) is struggling to run his own restaurant while juggling a new-found girlfriend (Tracey Ullman) and anticipating a visit from his disapproving father (John Mahoney). All Kronk ever wanted was a thumbs-up from Papi, and he hopes to please the old man now with a wife.
I always loved the character of Kronk. In “The Emperor’s New Groove,” I thought he was the best thing in the film. However, it may have been a mistake to give him his own movie.
The biggest problem with “Kronk’s New Groove” is that it lacks focus in a disastrous way. The film tries to juggle multiple, disparate storylines all at the same time. To make matters work, other characters from the previous film are shoehorned into recurring roles when they really have no place. I thought David Spade was hilarious as Kuzco, but his bout as inconsistent narrator of the piece just doesn’t work. Also, Eartha Kitt is as jazzy as ever as Yzma, but her character doesn’t really serve much purpose in the film.
In some ways, I respect this film for taking Kronk in a very different direction than the first movie. However, it was such a disastrous mess of a story that in some ways, I think it might have been better to have Kronk turn into a llama himself.
The DVD comes with a couple set-top games. They are fun when you can get to the games themselves, but there’s too much set-up and story to them. There’s also a behind-the-scenes discussion of the making of the film, hosted by Patrick Warburton. The directors also help host the segment, and they seem like great people, but their fun and exuberance never quite made it into the final film.
Over the years, Disney has gotten better with their direct-to-video animated sequels. Sure, they still make a stinker like “The Little Mermaid II” now and again, but the sequels to “The Lion King” and “Lilo and Stitch” have been a lot of fun.
However, “Kronk’s New Groove” just doesn’t match the power of the first film. In “The Emperor’s New Groove,” things were so smart and clever. The situations were wild – after all, who would have predicted a movie about an Emperor-turned-llama that ends with him shape-shifting into a dozen different animals. There were so many throw-away pieces of humor that adults got while they sailed over the kids’ heads.
But that spark was lost in this new film. It just seems too common. It reminds me of what it was like as a child to watch a really cool fantasy or science fiction film and then go home to a relatively humdrum life. “Kronk’s New Groove” made me feel similarly let down.
Specifications: Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound. Family-friendly widescreen (1.78:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French and Spanish language tracks. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.