Having recently watched The Emporer’s New Groove, Disney’s 2000 animated film that failed to light up the box office but did go some way to maintaining their credibility amongst an otherwise troubled period, I decided to watch the sequel. Inevitably, Kronk’s New Groove was a direct-to-video release and it also has many of the hallmarks of most of the other Disney films that bypassed the cinema: short running time, sub-par animation and almost none of the magic of the original release.
One thing that is retained is the talented voice cast, including David Cross as Emperor Kuzco (cameo only), John Goodman as Pacha (cameo only), Eartha Kitt as Yzma (cameo only) and, of course, Patrick Warburton as the titular Kronk. It’s quite impressive that everyone was convinced back based on the premise of a flimsy sequel to a five-year-old film, though the fact they were probably only in the studio for a day may have helped.
We do, however, lose Sting’s excellent songs and score that were present in the original (though many of his songs missed out on the original, as fully explained in the excellent documentary film The Sweatbox). Indeed, there are only a couple of songs in the film and they’re pretty forgettable.Many criticisms on this film centre on the lack of storyline. In truth, the basic premise isn’t even half as off-the-wall as the first film. In this one, Kronk tries to achieve the lifelong ambition of winning the approval of his father (“the big thumbs up from Papi”), trying to hide the fact he is a chef in a restaurant and pretend he has been more of a success. He takes on a scout team (of sorts), falls in love, rips off some old people with an elixir of life. It isn’t too bad, though it is a bit straightforward. It isn’t the storyline itself that causes the issues, but rather the pacing and lack of imagination therein. There’s obviously been a strict budget applied that goes beyond the poor animation and this certainly goes for the lack of time spent on the script and the fact that nobody realised it was completely lacking in humour.
In my opinion, this last point is the over-arching issue. Whilst the first film is full of huge laughs, most of which were memorable and quotable, there is nothing on that level this time around. Most of the gags are parodies of other films but they themselves are outdated: The Matrix and Titanic were both almost a decade old by the time of release, meaning the jokes were no doubt lost on the children at which this is aimed. Not only that, but they would have also failed to ignite any laughter in the parents sitting through it with them.
I don’t think this is quite as bad as the majority of reviews would have us believe (it holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). It isn’t a classic, and I can’t recommend you watch it unless you’re a hugely keen fan of the original, but it isn’t a film with out any redeeming qualities.
Kronk’s New Groove is available now on DVD. Strangely a standalone Blu-Ray hasn’t appeared yet.