Kronk: Yeah. Weird...
A very atypical animated movie from Disney. Hugely self-aware and a lot more dirty than the previous entries in the studio's canon, The Emperor's New Groove is a film that trawled the deepest levels of Development Hell and finally emerged as more or less a spoof of its original concept. As indicated by the title, it is very loosely (and we do mean loosely!) inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story The Emperor's New Clothes, about a spoiled and vain emperor who mistreats his people for his own selfish enjoyment. The film was directed by Mark Dindal, whose previous work, Cats Don't Dance, shares much of the same breakneck humor as Groove.
Kuzco (David Spade) is the spoiled young emperor of a mountainous jungle nation based (once again, very loosely) on the Incan empire of South America. On the eve of his eighteenth birthday, he fires his ancient adviser Yzma (Eartha Kitt) from her high-profile job, prompting her and her dimwitted but affable lackey Kronk (Patrick Warburton) to assassinate him. The plan misfires, and Kuzco is instead accidentally turned into a llama. He's forced to team up with good-hearted family-man peasant Pacha (John Goodman) on a dangerous trek through the jungle to reclaim his throne — while Pacha tries to teach Kuzco just a little bit of humility in the process.
The film has no love story apart from that of Pacha and his pregnant wife, and has only two significant songs (both written by Sting after the other 90% of his soundtrack was discarded, and one of which is performed by Tom Jones), while the spurned would-be cute animal sidekick vengefully attempts to get Kuzco eaten by a pack of jaguars. As you might guess, this all plays out more like a feature-length Looney Tunes cartoon than a typical Disney flick.
It was released on December 15, 2000 and was a holiday blockbuster, though it got beaten out by How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
A direct-to-video sequel, Kronk's New Groove, was released on December 13, 2005. It eventually spawned a licensed video game and then a TV series, which ran from January 27, 2006 to November 20, 2008. The film and the production behind it is the subject of the infamous documentary The Sweatbox.
The Emperor's New Groove film provides examples of:
- 100% Adoration Rating: Subverted. Kuzco thinks he has this, with him believing everyone in the empire agrees that the world revolves around him. But not only does Kuzco not have this, but most of the empire hates his guts. A big thing that kicks off his Character Development is realizing his old personality made it so no one missed him when he was thought to be dead.
- 0% Approval Rating: Really, no one is broken up when Emperor Kuzco disappears. Lampshaded when Yzma and Kronk pass by Kuzco unknowingly and mention that nobody really seems to care that he's gone and Yzma has taken his place.
- Aborted Arc: After the opening song, Kuzco is shown several potential brides, only to reject them all. The fact that Kuzco is supposedly getting into an arranged marriage soon is never brought up again. At least not until the television continuation.
- Accidental Hug: Kuzco and Pacha do this in relief, then quickly break apart.
- Actor Allusion:
- Yzma is voiced by Eartha Kitt, who is well known for portraying one version of Catwoman. She displays an example of To the Batpole! and later gets transformed into a cat. A cute, but still demonic cat. She's also known for wanting to be evil.
- Kuzco's "Buh-bye!" to Pacha on the bridge. Apparently, he used to work for Total Bastard Airlines.
- At one point, Kuzco tricks Pacha into carrying him by claiming to have low blood sugar, something David Spade actually suffers from.
- An Aesop: The Power of Friendship. As delivered in the reprise of Kuzco's theme song at the end:Theme Song Guy: You'd be the coolest dude in the nation
Or the hippest cat in creation,
But if you ain't got friends
Then nothing's worth the fuss.
- Affectionate Parody: Of both the studio's more standard animated films and epic fairy tales.
- Air Quotes: Kuzco manages to do this with his hooves after being turned into a llama.Kuzco: Okay, I've got to get back to the palace. Yzma's got that... "secret lab"... I'll just snap my fingers and order her to change me back!
- All Animals Are Dogs: The crocodiles in Yzma's trap door moat whine like dogs when slapped.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Kronk is very literal, has difficulty lying, misunderstands social cues, vocally repeats things, and finds it hard to focus on something that isn't what he's interested in. All of these are symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.
- Ambiguously Jewish: The waitress at the diner when she gives free appetizers to Kuzco and Pacha on the basis that they're newlyweds.Waitress: (Completely deadpan) Hot and crispy pillbug for the happy couple. Mazel Tov.
- Anachronism Stew:
- Oh, so much (what's an American-style Greasy Spoon—complete with incomprehensible orders and an Expy of the Big Boy—doing in the pre-Columbian Andes?). Most of it can be chalked up to Rule of Funny.
- Kuzco's South American empire has wheeled carts. In real life, wheels, while not unknown, were not used by South American indigenous peoples, due to a lack of useful draft animals and the mountainous terrain. The writers actually spent quite a while debating whether to include wheels before realizing this just wasn't the kind of movie that needed to worry about historical accuracy.
- A floor waxer gets a few seconds of screen time as part of a joke.
- What was a giant trampoline doing there during the climax?
- Kuzco's "theme song guy" looks like an Elvis Presley impersonator, complete with sunglasses and a microphone, and sings in the style of Tom Jones.
- Angel Face, Demon Face:
- Kuzco starts out very hard-lined and softens to more Disney-appropriate features after he learns his Aesop. Yzma looks like she's going to have the demon face but ends up turning into something much cuter than her original "scary beyond all reason" appearance.
- And when Kitten Yzma enters the picture, she can go in a blink from adorable fuzzball to More Teeth than the Osmond Family.
- Angry Chef: The Chef at Mudka's Meat Hut quits after taking various complaints from Kuzco and Yzma and leaving all of the work up to Kronk, thinking that he wanted a "special order" too.Kronk: Hey, pal, what's your policy on making special orders?
Chef: All right, buster, that's it! You want a special order, then you make it! I QUIT! You know, I try and I try, but there's just no respect for anyone with vision! That—That's it! There's just nothing I can do about it!
- Anti-Hero: Kuzco is a Jerkass, a Royal Brat, and believes that It's All About Me. He does eventually lighten up, though.
- Anti-Villain: Kronk is only evil by his association with Yzma, and is at worst Affably Evil. In some ways he's even nicer than Pacha, having a kind of sweet naïveté.
- Apathetic Citizens: Everyone who's not a named character (or the old guy who gets tossed out the window) seems to just go about their lives trying to stay out of the Emperor's way. But when their choice of leaders is between Kuzco and Yzma, can you really blame them?
- Argument of Contradictions: Pacha's kids argue about whether their father would ever kiss a llama. They interrupt their rapid fire litany of "Nuh-uh!" "Yeah-huh!" only to say good night to their mother, then continue through the night.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Yzma finishes off her litany of complaints against Kronk with, "...[And] I never liked your spinach puffs! Never!" Made even more hilarious because this cuts Kronk deeper than anything else she says. Even his Shoulder Devil does a HeelFace Turn after that.Devil: That's it. [cocks pitchfork like a shotgun] She's going down.
- Artistic License Biology: When Pacha tries to perform CPR on Kuzco, his long llama tongue pops out of his mouth and flops on the ground. In reality, llama tongues are incredibly small; they can only get out of the mouth half an inch.
- Art Shift: The animation which accompanies Yzma's Evil Plan shifts into a high-contrast silhouetted style that resembles the wall art in the Emperor's palace.
- Ass Pull: Yzma and Kronk getting to the lab before Pacha and Kuzco, especially after being hit with lightning and falling into a ravine. Like everything else this is invoked, complete with handy pull-down chart.Kuzco: No! It can't be! How did you get back here before us?!
Yzma: Uh... How did we, Kronk?
Kronk: Well, ya got me. (pulls down a map showing the trails of everywhere they went) By all accounts, it doesn't make sense.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!:
- Kronk is unable to concentrate more than 10 seconds on Yzma's plans because he always gets distracted (generally by his own cooking). It quickly becomes a Running Gag.Yzma: So, is everything ready for tonight?
Kronk: Oh, yeah. I thought we'd start off with soup and a light salad, and then see how we feel after that.
Yzma: Not the dinner. You know...
Kronk: Oh, right. The poison. The poison for Kuzco, the poison chosen especially to kill Kuzco, Kuzco's poison. That poison?
Yzma: Yes! That poison.
Kronk: [pulls out vial] Got you covered.
Yzma: Excellent. A few drops in his drink, and then I'll propose a toast, and he will be dead before dessert.
Kronk: Which is a real shame, because it's gonna be delicious.
Kronk: [as Yzma is being chased by bees] Oh, look. A golden-throated small-winged warbler. Just one more for exotic bird bingo. I am loving this.
- Heck, even Kronk's shoulder angel and devil are easily distracted!
- The film itself at times.Kuzco: Uh, what's with the chimp and the bug?! Can we get back to me now?
- Kronk is unable to concentrate more than 10 seconds on Yzma's plans because he always gets distracted (generally by his own cooking). It quickly becomes a Running Gag.
- Award-Bait Song:
- Perhaps the most traditional aspect of the film is "My Funny Friend and Me", sung by Sting over the end credits.
- Apparently, back when this movie was a more serious endeavor called Kingdom of the Sun, Sting was to provide many songs and the score in a similar way that Elton John did for The Lion King (1994) or Phil Collins did for Tarzan. However, when the film was changed to basically an animated buddy comedy, all these musical numbers were dropped and the only remnants are Kuzco's theme song and "My Funny Friend and Me."
- Baleful Polymorph: The Emperor's transformation into a llama is the result of Kronk bumbling Yzma's attempt to assassinate him, mistaking a transformation potion with the intended poison. Later, chaos ensues during the finale when they acquire the rest of Yzma's (unlabeled) transformation potions, and Yzma herself never fully recovers from being turned into a cat.
- Bat Scare: Kuzco and Pacha disturb a flock of bats when trying to save themselves from falling off a cliff. Fortunately, the bats ultimately return them back to higher ground.
- Be Yourself: Deconstructed. (In a Disney movie, no less). Kuzco's selfish Jerkass personality is exactly what makes him unloved by pretty much everybody. He suffers heavy consequences for it, ending up abandoned and alone in the middle of the jungle, which leaves him at the edge of the Despair Event Horizon. He realizes he can't continue to behave this way or he'll live as a lonely llama the rest of his life. It gives him enough sense to start acting like a decent man and ask Pacha for forgiveness.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: During the chase scene at the end of the movie, Pacha and Kuzco find themselves about to be attacked by guards. Pacha chooses a random potion and whispers "Oh, please be something with wings." Kuzco does indeed transform into a bird—unfortunately, it's an extremely small parrot that's only able to keep Pacha airborne for two seconds.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: For most of the film, Pacha's kindness is taken for granted by Kuzco. However, character development on Kuzco's part does make him soften up to Pacha. At the end of the movie, Kuzco decides that he'll build his Kuzcotopia somewhere else, giving half-hearted excuses as to why he suddenly changed his mind.
- Becoming the Mask: Kronk. You put him in the role of a short order cook, he's a short order cook, dammit! Of course, that's only due to him being quite a skilled cook to begin with though.
- Berserk Button:
- Seriously. DON'T THROW OFF KUZCO'S GROOVE! An old man found that out the hard way when one of Kuzco's guards launched him out of a window.
- Kronk is a willing toadie for all of Yzma's abuse... until she insults his cooking. Both his shoulder angel and devil agree: she's got to go.
- Betrayal by Inaction: While helping Kuzco back to the palace, Pacha falls through a bridge and lays dangling and calling for help. Rather than helping him up, Kuzco decides to leave him there and continue on; he was going to betray Pacha anyway and lock him in a dungeon, and this seemed easier. Unfortunately for Kuzco, he falls through moments later, leaving him in the same predicament, and the two are forced to work together to save themselves. It becomes funnier when you realize that Kuzco was all the way across the bridge, but he came back to taunt Pacha, causing him to suffer the same fate.
- Better Than a Bare Bulb: The movie runs almost entirely on Rule of Funny and Lampshade Hanging. Among the lampshaded tropes are narrators, the villains reaching their lair before the heroes do, a villain going One-Winged Angel, and 0% Approval Rating.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Invoked by Kuzco; a Staggered Zoom out to show the height of a waterfall goes one step too far, ending up focused on a branch where a monkey eats a beetle.Kuzco: What's with the chimp and the bug?! Can we get back to me?!
- A Birthday, Not a Break: Aside from the last two scenes and the Flashback at the beginning, the entire film-in which Kuzco almost dies numerous times, undergoes a Baleful Polymorph, is days long distance away from home, has his worldview questioned for the first time in his life, and passes Despair Event Horizon-happens on his eighteenth birthday and the days before and after.
- Bookends: The opening musical number ends with Kuzco's infamous "Boom, baby!" as he goes to meet his marriage candidates. The musical number that ends the movie has it begin with Kuzco and Pacha "Boom, baby!" before they spend some time having fun.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: This film basically demolishes the fourth wall with a truckload of dynamite, then reconstructs it behind the audience.
- In the second act, Kuzco-as-narrator pauses the film and appears onscreen to complain about the plot not focusing on him, then proceeds to draw on the fourth wall with a marker. From the audience's side of it.
- During his Heel Realization, in-movie Kuzco gets into an argument with narrator Kuzco, who's still self-centered. The madness must be seen to be believed.
- Towards the film's climax, Kuzco and Pacha race against Yzma and Kronk to reach the palace first. The movie shows the audience a map of Team Kuzco's and Team Yzma's paths, represented by red dashes and purple arrows, respectively. At one point, when Team Kuzco is ahead, the film cuts to Yzma... and she realizes that there is a line of red dashes on the ground ahead of them. Then, she looks back and sees that Kronk is inexplicably leaving behind a trail of purple arrows next to the dashes. They shrug at each other and keep running. The scene ends with a sudden very localized thunderstorm knocking the purple arrow line down into a ravine. Yet when Kuzco and Pacha arrive at the mountaintop palace, Yzma and Kronk are waiting for them.Kuzco: No! It can't be! How did you get back here before us?
Yzma: Ah... uh, how did we, Kronk?
Kronk: Well, ya got me. [pulls down the same map the audience was just looking at] By all accounts, it doesn't make sense.
- The above is more explicit in the Italian and Spanish dubs. In the former, Kronk just says that the writers are still figuring it out; in the latter, he says it could be "movie stuff".
- Breakout Character: Kronk received his own spin-off film.
- Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: One of the turning points of Kuzco's Character Development is making amends with Pacha over their disagreements.
- Brick Joke:Yzma: Why do we even have that lever?
[3/4 the movie's running time later]
Kuzco: Okay, why does she even have that lever?
- When Yzma is upset that Kuzco drank "extract of Llama," not poison, Kronk notes that they all look alike and she should label them better. Towards the end, when Kuzco and Pacha are looking for the antidote, Yzma knocks over all the vials, making it more confusing for them.
- The broken bridge scene ends with Kuzco asking Pacha the chances of the latter carrying him, with Pacha replying that they're not very high. The next time we see them (after the Meanwhile Scene with the villains), Pacha is carrying Kuzco, while questioning his offscreen claim that he has low blood sugar levels.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: Kronk and Yzma in the closet of Pacha's house are visible by their eye shape. The only time any more definition is added is when Yzma gets close to a knothole in the closet's door.
- By Wall That Is Holey: In the scene where Kronk slices the rope holding the chandelier over Yzma.
- Call-Back: At the conclusion, Kuzco calls out Pacha, saying the mountains don't sing. That's definitely the reason he won't be building his waterpark there.
Pacha: You know, someday you're gonna wind up all alone. And you know what? You'll have no one to blame but yourself.
- The first shot of teen Kuzco, he's brushing his hair — the comb is a bejeweled llama.
- Subtle one, but it's there. It's actually the very first scene in the movie, though Narrator Kuzco didn't admit it at the time.
- Can't You Read the Sign?: "No Llamas," says the sign outside the Greasy Spoon diner. This necessitates putting Kuzco in disguise.
- Caps Lock, Num Lock, Missiles Lock: Yzma's lair has two identical levers, one of which triggers a trap, and another which forcibly flips the puller inside. This later became a running gag in The Emperor's New School.
- Carnivore Confusion: A Shout-Out to The Fly (1958), in which a talking fly is eaten by a spider. ("Help me! Help meee! Too late.") It should be noted, however, that the spider doesn't say anything.
- Cassandra Truth: Pacha tries to warn Kuzco that Yzma and Kronk are trying to kill him, but Kuzco blows him off, thinking they were there to take him home. He then falls out with Pacha, believing his claim to be a plan to save his hilltop from destruction, and then orders Pacha to go away. Kuzco makes his way to Yzma and Kronk, only to overhear them discussing that they are seeking to kill him and that the kingdom doesn't miss him. Kuzco realizes Pacha was right, but Pacha has left, and Kuzco hangs his head in despair. Ouch.
- The Cat Came Back: Yzma and Kronk's inexplicable and speedy return to the lab. Heavily lampshaded, in that even they didn't know how they did it. They even show a map of their route, which goes down a canyon and never reappears.
- Cathartic Chores: Pacha's wife, Chica, is so furious at hearing about how Emperor Kuzco brushed her husband's concerns aside that she descends into Angrish before saying "I gotta go wash something."
- Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Kuzco and Pacha do this at one point over not wanting to keep arguing about Kuzco building his resort where Pacha's house is.
- Character Development: Kuzco the narrator keeps the attitude he had at the beginning of the movie: shallow and self-absorbed. This is contrasted with Kuzco the llama, who grows to realize what a jerk he's been, eventually resulting a scene where the llama calls out the narrator on his attitude.
- Character Exaggeration: Compared to Kingdom of the Sun, Yzma is exaggerated to a hammy and hilarious villain.
- Chekhov's Gun: "You know, in my defense, your poisons all look alike. You might think about relabeling some of them."
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Clearly the bridge scene was going to be just for the laughs... oh wait, climax.
- Kronk's talking to squirrels.
- Chewbacca Defense: Courtesy of Kronk's shoulder devil. It works better on the angel than on Kronk, who just gets confused.Devil: There are three reasons you should listen to me instead of him. [...] Reason number two: Look what I can do. [does a one-handed handstand]
Kronk: But what does that have to do with anything?
Angel: No, no, he's got a point.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Kuzco. He doesn't get better until very late in the film.
- Circling Birdies: Kuzco sees llamas after Chicha whacks him with a frying pan.
- Clingy Aquatic Life: When Kronk accidentally pulls the trapdoor lever, Yzma falls through and lands with a splash offscreen. She then reenters the room with an alligator biting her dress. She smacks it, and it scrambles away and whimpers like a dog. The same thing happens to Kuzco when he and Pacha try to enter Yzma's lab later in the movie.
- Coincidental Accidental Disguise: Actually a coincidental intentional disguise, leading to Yzma unwillingly replacing a pinata at a children's party.
- Comically Missing the Point: Kronk in general. He never seems to get that he's the lackey to the movie's Big Bad, and generally misinterprets her Evil Gloating. "THE PEASANT! AT THE DINER! ... he didn't pay his check."
- Community-Threatening Construction: Emperor Kuzco, being a self-absorbed, egoistic teenage jerk, wants to build Kuzcotopia, a giant playground meant for him and him alone, as a present for his own birthday. He intends to build it on top of the hill on which Pacha's village is built, which would mean destruction of the village. When Kuzco is accidentally turned into a llama and brought all the way to the village before he can carry out his plans, this decision becomes the driving conflict between him and Pacha. Kuzco needs his help to find the way back home, but Pacha won't do it unless he'll change his plans.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: On one hand, the Tarzan-like rescue was the only escape from a grisly end. On the other hand, getting tied up in a tree hanging precariously over a cliff, doesn't seem to offer any escape at all.Kuzco: Maybe I'm just new to this whole rescuing thing, but this, to me, might be considered kind of a step backwards, wouldn't you say?
- Complexity Addiction: Yzma's original plan for Kuzco.
- Conscience Makes You Go Back:
- This actually helps kick off the whole plot. Kronk dumps the bag holding the unconscious llama Kuzco into a river, but then rushes back for him at the urging of his shoulder angel.
- Played straight with Pacha, who initially decides to let Kuzco head into the jungle by himself since his death would ensure he wouldn't be able to destroy Pacha's village to make way for Kuzcotopia, but he changes his mind just in time to rescue Kuzco from the jaguars.
- Subverted with Kuzco: when Pacha ends up falling through the wooden bridge, Kuzco appears to go back to help him... only to proceed to mock him and leave him to die. Only falling through the bridge himself makes Kuzco change his mind.
- Contrived Clumsiness: As Kuzco and Pacha try to get the potion that will turn Kuzco human, Yzma knocks over the other potions so they can't tell which is which, saying "Oops, clumsy me!" as she does.
- Contrived Coincidence:
- Played for laughs. At the end of the film, Yzma in cat form is falling off the side of the palace to certain doom...but at that precise moment, in the precise location where she's falling, a deliveryman has just set up a giant trampoline, which she lands on. And as a guard helpfully points out, no one ordered the trampoline to begin with.
- In the same sequence, the trapdoor Kronk fell through three scenes ago just so happens to lead to a window that opens up directly where Cat Yzma is standing.
- It's not clearly if it's invoked, but Chicha and Pacha's children arrange to cover Yzma in glue and feathers, making her look like a giant bird—just when a bunch of children are about to start whacking a pinata at a birthday party.
- Played straighter with Kuzco, Pacha, Yzma, and Kronk ending up at Mudka's Mud Hut at the exact same time. It's taken back into absurdity, though, when Yzma and Kuzco repeatedly miss seeing each other by fractions of seconds as they move through the diner.
- Cool Old Guy: The old man who Kuzco has thrown out the window. He forgives Kuzco when he apologizes later, saying it wasn't the first time he was tossed out and a window and was confident it wouldn't be the last since he's a rebel.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In the end, Yzma's stuck as a kitten and has to participate in Kronk's Junior Chipmunks group, complete with uniform, the horror!
- Could Say It, But...: When telling Pacha he no longer plans to build Kuzcotopia over his village, rather than outright say the real reason, Kuzco pretends it's because the hills didn't sing like Pacha claimed.
- Cucumber Facial: Yzma when sleeping, to Kronk's horror.
- Cue the Rain: Llama-Kuzco gets hit with a sudden downpour when he's alone and abandoned in the jungle.
- Cute Kitten: Yzma at the end.
- Cutting Back to Reality: Near the climax, while Kronk talks with his angel and devil, the scene cuts to a baffled Yzma watching him talk to his shoulders.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kuzco and Kronk.Kuzco: Y'know, it's a good thing you're not a big fat guy or this would be really difficult! [all while pushing Pacha up a cliff]
- Death as Comedy: "C'mon men! Nobody lives forever!" Guards drop down the hole to their deaths. (Although see Disney Villain Death below...)
- Denser and Wackier: Than most Disney films, by a massive degree. Although all of the Disney canon have humor, this is one of the few that's an outright absurdist comedy. In some ways, it feels more like a Dreamworks production than something from the House of Mouse.
- Despair Event Horizon: After learning Yzma and Kronk were planning to kill them and Pacha abandons him, Kuzco gives up hope that he'll ever be turned back into a human. He goes to a llama herd trying to start a new life.
- Destination Defenestration: The punishment for Musicalis Interruptus—Kuzco stumbles over an old man who's too slow to get out of his way, "throwing off his groove" and causing his theme song to suffer a variation on Record Needle Scratch, in the form of screeching vehicle tires. A guard tosses the old man out a window in a routine sort of way.
- Deus ex Machina:
- Hilariously lampshaded:Kronk: Wow... what are the odds that trapdoor would lead me out here?
- When Yzma (and the human-potion) are falling to their doom, she is rescued by a trampoline that happens to have been set up under her.
- Hilariously lampshaded:
- Diabolus ex Machina: Hilariously Played for Laughs. As mentioned in Breaking the Fourth Wall, Kronk and Yzma have no idea on how they get to the palace before Kuzco and Pacha.
- Discreet Drink Disposal: Yzma and Kronk do this when the latter is forced to mix all the drinks together after losing track of which one has the potion in it.
- Disguised in Drag: Kuzco dresses up as a lady and plays the role of Pacha's newlywed wife to get into a restaurant. Unlike most cases, he does't seem to mind.
- Disney Acid Sequence:
- Essentially the entire movie, without even having musical numbers, but see particularly the chase sequence near the end of the film.
- The rollercoaster scene to get to the "secret" lab is also somewhat acidic, though the effect is for comedy rather than confusion.
- Disney Death: The old man who throws off Kuzco's groove and suffers a Destination Defenestration out of a high window is soon revealed to have survived by getting tangled up in a banner. The palace guards who suffer a similar fall in a later scene may or may not have been so lucky.
- Disney Villain Death: Wonderfully subverted:Palace Guard: For the last time, we did not order a giant trampoline!
Delivery-man: Ya know, pal, you could've told me that before I set it up.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- Done hilariously, where an elderly man accidentally bumps into the Emperor during his song number:Kuzco: Doh! You threw off my groove!
Guard: I'm sorry, but you've thrown off the Emperor's groove.
[cut to the man being chucked out a window]
Old Man: SOOOOORRRRRRRRY!!
- Kuzco sums it up succinctly when he says, "Okay, I admit it. Maybe I wasn't as nice as I should have been. But Yzma, do you really want to kill me?"
- If you can believe it, Yzma's unused Kingdom of the Sun incarnation was worse in this regard—her plan was intended to be summoning a death god to extinguish the sun and unleash Hell on Earth so that she won't get wrinkles anymore, and her Villain Song has her freely admitting that she was willing to commit heinous atrocities just to retain her youthful good looks.Yzma: I've really stopped at nothing
Murder, treachery and lying
Whatever it takes to keep my looks
You really can't blame a girl for trying!
- Done hilariously, where an elderly man accidentally bumps into the Emperor during his song number:
- D.I.Y. Disaster: Subverted/played for laughs when Kronk pulls the lever that was supposed to take him and Yzma to the "secret lab," but instead opens a trap door that causes Yzma to fall into a crocodile-filled moat. It's subverted when you consider the fact that that particular lever really is supposed to do that. Although why they have it is a mystery, even to Yzma.
- The Dog Bites Back: After putting up with all of her abuse, Kronk finally turns against Yzma when she claims to have never liked his spinach puffs. Or at least, he tries to. He does manage to save the day in a Deus ex Machina moment as noted above.
- Do I Really Sound Like That?: Yzma, after becoming a kitten and finding her voice is much higher and squeakier: "Is that my voice? Is that... MY voice?!"
- Dolled-Up Installment:
- Some unused elements from the original concept for the film (Kingdom of the Sun), such as the llama-herder Love Interest, Malina, and Yzma wanting to regain her youthful looks, were revived for the TV series.
- This basic conception of an old woman wanting to gain back her youthful looks was later reused with Mother Gothel, chief villainess of Tangled. The Kingdom of Corona in that film even has the sun as its symbol, thus making it a Kingdom of the Sun!
- Door Judo: Pacha's family does this with Yzma.
- Downer Beginning: Downplayed. The film's Cue the Rain opening is purposefully over dramatic and Played for Laughs. But it still has a more somber tone than the rest of the movie, especially when you learn why Kuzco is crying in the jungle- he's a kid trapped in a Baleful Polymorph who just learned his parental figure wants to kill him, no one in the world loves him or care that he's missing, and has lost the only real friend he's ever had. All on his eighteenth birthday.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: Kronk's shoulder devil does this with his pitchfork when committing to his HeelFace Turn.
- Dumb Muscle: Kronk; somewhat subverted in that in certain narrow areas he displays razor-sharp competence.
- Easily Forgiven: Kuzco at the conclusion at least by some of his victims, the old man he had defenestrated for "throwing off his groove", for one just chuckles and forgives an apologetic Kuzco. Of course, given all that he went through, he wasn't so easily forgiven by the universe at least.
- Egopolis: Kuzco is planning to build a place named Kuzcotopia.Kuzco: My ultimate summer getaway! Complete with water slide.
- The Elevator from Ipanema: Actually a dining room, but close enough.
- "Eureka!" Moment: Kronk has one when he finally recalls Pacha as the same peasant he saw driving the cart with Kuzco in the back when he lost him back at the palace. He immediately realizes that Pacha must be taking Kuzco back to his own village, and that the best way to Kuzco was to get there before they did.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Hilariously played with in the case of Kronk's Shoulder Devil, when Yzma reveals that not only does she hold the lowest opinion of Kronk possible, but also that she never liked his spinach puffs! NEVER!Shoulder Devil: That's it! [cocks pitchfork like shotgun] She's going down!
- Everybody Knew Already: "Yzma's got that [fingernote quotes] 'secret' lab."
- Everything's Better with Llamas: Goes without saying.
- Evil Gloating: Both Yzma and Kuzco do this. Kuzco turns back into danger to gloat after he leaves Pacha to die, and karmically falls into the same peril. Yzma does it more effectively much later, but Kronk ruins the moment by lampshading it.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Subverted when Yzma makes her final transformation. An ominous smoke appears and she starts laughing evilly in a deep, booming bass, but once the smoke clears, she's a tiny kitty with a squeaky voice.
- Exact Words:Pacha: WE SHOOK HANDS ON IT!!!
Smug Snake Kuzco: The funny thing about shaking hands is...[tauntingly waves hooves in front of a dangling Pacha]...ya need HANDS!
- Also used for Loophole Abuse, to give an excuse to not build Kuzcotopia on Pacha's land; he claims he literally wanted a hill that sings, and the lack of magical singing is his justification for not building his summer home there.
- Extremely Short Timespan: The official storyline of the movie starts the day before Kuzco's birthday and ends in the afternoon of the day after; meaning the entire film took place over two and a half days.
- Face Death with Dignity: Kuzco and Pacha's calm, even exchange as they're about to go over the waterfall. They have no reason whatsoever to believe they'll survive it.Kuzco:...Bring it on.
- Falling Chandelier of Doom: Subverted; Kronk turns on Yzma by cutting down a chandelier over her head, but she's so skinny that it merely falls around her thanks to the hole in the middle.Kronk: Strange, that usually works.
Yzma: And so does THIS! [pulls a lever and a trap door opens under Kronk]
Kronk: Oh, I shoulda seen that one coming... WHOA!!....
[He falls, followed a moment later by his shoulder angel and devil, who hug each other for safety]
- Fate Worse than Death: Apparently, Kuzco and Pacha would rather be stabbed to death than witness Yzma strip.
- Fluffy Dry Cat: Downplayed. When Kuzco shakes his fur dry, only the hair on his head fluffs up. Oddly, that's the only part of his body that wasn't affected by the transformation.
- Foreign Queasine: Steamed giant pillbug. Smack it with a straw to uncurl it, use the straw to slurp up its guts. Then munch on the exoskeleton. Them's good eating. (Subverted in that for Kuzco, it isn't foreign, just down-market.)
- Two bits of this happen in the Flashback where Kuzco was a baby:
- When he breaks one of the many toys surrounding him, he only has to make a single wail before numerous servants present him with multiple versions of the same toy...yeah, that type of upbringing probably won't produce the "world's nicest guy" like Kuzco claimed.
- Three of the toys surrounding him are a llama rocker, a wind up parrot, and a stuffed whale; all of which are animals Kuzco later turns into.
- The first gate on the slide to the secret lab is shaped like a cat's head.
- Two bits of this happen in the Flashback where Kuzco was a baby:
- Freak Out: When Kuzco learns he's been turned into a llama, he tries to tear his skin off, slaps himself across the face in a desperate attempt to calm himself down, laughs hysterically when he realizes he can no longer walk on two legs, and panics that he "can't remember anything" because of the confusion being knocked out caused him.
- Friend or Idol Decision: Kuzco is within inches of getting the vial that will turn him back into a human, but Pacha is slowly losing his grip on the edge of the palace wall at the same time. At the very last second, Kuzco runs over and grabs Pacha's hand, and the vial falls off the wall. But it's subverted when not two minutes later, they use their Chekhov's Skill and The Power of Friendship to get it back.
- Frying Pan of Doom: Chicha uses one on Kuzco when he startles her.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": Yzma holds a funeral for Kuzco, with a somber eulogy, then immediately ushers in her own reign with, "Well, he ain't gettin' any deader! Back to work!" All of the mourners drop their candles and walk off without a word.
- Funny Background Event
- During the dinner scene, there's a small potted cactus. Yzma ditches her llama-transformation drink into it... Guess what it looks like in a later shot?
- In one scene, Kronk is talking to himself while, in the background, Yzma is being chased across the screen several times by Synchronized Swarming bees.
- After Kuzco insults his prospective brides and turns back to the matchmaker, you can see one of them getting violently angry and being physically restrained by the others.
- When Kuzco realizes he's been turned into a llama, you can actually hear Pacha desperately try to calm him down.
- Furry Reminder
- It becomes basically impossible for Kuzco to walk on two legs, to the point of barely being able to do so even when holding himself up on a fence for support.
- After getting wet, Kuzco shook his fur to get the water off.
- Kuzco defends going back on Pacha's promise because they sealed it through a handshake. Kuzco, now being a llama, technically doesn't have hands anymore. He even flashes his hooves at Pacha to really drill the point down.
- Genius Ditz: Kronk. While the ditzy part is unquestionable, he knows how to be liked by anyone he meets (another kind of intelligence), is a great cook, has a lot of practical knowledge about things and can survive in the wild all by himself, plus he's fluent in both squirrel and Hash House Lingo. He's mostly just literal-minded, easily distracted and clumsy to the point of Ambiguous Disorder.
- Gentle Giant:
- Kronk is easily the biggest, most muscular character in the film. He's also easily the kindest.
- Pacha isn't too far behind, being about two heads taller and significantly beefier than the string bean Kuzco, yet is a caring father and husband, not to mention the great restraint he shows putting up Kuzco's attitude. Bruce W. Smith, his animator, lampshades this on the DVD commentary, saying that he had to animate the character with a certain restraint, because he could easily "smack Kuzco upside the head" at any minute.
- A Gift for Themselves: Kuzco calls Kuzcotopia, the summer palace he plans to build over Pacha's village, "my birthday present to me."
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied by Kronk, whose angels are just as dim as he is.
- Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: Yzma's "secret lab" features a lot of spiraling glass tubing running throughout the room, but also shelves and shelves of literally a thousand and one bottles of her "poisons" (read: various magical potions). They're all pink in color and are very poorly labeled, making it difficult to distinguish from another. Kronk complains about this.
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: It takes several beats after the rope bridge breaks for Kuzco and Pacha to realize they're going to fall to their death before dropping.
- Greasy Spoon: Mudka's Meat Hut, complete with incomprehensible order lingo and an Expy of the Big Boy statue outside.
- Gross-Up Close-Up:
- Yzma's scary enough at a distance...[as the camera pans over Yzma's face]
Kuzco: Whoa! Look at those wrinkles. What is holding this woman together? What the!? [sees a piece of spinach in Yzma's teeth] How long has that been there?
- The scene which shows Kuzco attempting to eat grass like the other llamas could give John Kricfalusi a run for his money.
- This scene:[Kronk bursts into Yzma's tent after an epiphany.]
Yzma: [sits up, face covered in a goopy beauty mask, complete with cucumbers.] WHAT!?
Kronk: [Recoils in horror] AUGH!!!
Yzma: This had better be good!
- Yzma's scary enough at a distance...
- Hammy Herald: The Theme Song Guy, voiced by Tom Jones, who introduces Kuzco in a bombastic song.
- Hand Wave: Wonderfully lampshaded near the end of the movie, where a handwave is directly asked for and the reply is: "Well, ya got me. By all accounts, it doesn't make sense," complete with a handy chart showing how it doesn't make sense. Everyone immediately stops worrying about it.
- Happily Married: Pacha and Chicha.
- Happy Birthday to You!: As sung by the Meat Hut employees:Happy happy birthday from all of us to you!
We wish it was our birthday so we could party too!
- Hash House Lingo: Somehow, Kronk gets it right away.Waitress: Ordering. Three pork combos, extra bacon on the side, two chili cheese samplers, a basket of liver and onion rings, a catch of the day, and a steak cut in the shape of a trout. You got all that, honey?
Kronk: [Serious Business voice] Three oinkers wearing pants, plate of hot air, basket of Grandma's breakfast and change the bull to a gill, got it.
- Hates Being Touched: Kuzco, at least at first.
- HeelFace Turn:
- Kronk, not that it required a very big step.
- Kuzco. Bear in mind that at the beginning of the film he plans to bulldoze an entire village for his own profit, and later leaves Pacha to die (after admitting he was planning on locking him up anyway.) Kuzco starts to actually bond with Pacha and realizes just how much the people hate him as they don't even mourn his loss or care about having Yzma in charge. He even admits to Yzma has wasn't the nicest of guys so he understands her anger against him (though not why she wants to actually kill him).
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- Bucky pops a balloon and the jaguar pack doesn't wake up.Kuzco: HA! [cue Oh, Crap!]
- Yzma sending Kronk down the trap door ends up being what ultimately causes her to fail when it leads Kronk to opening a window to the outsides, knocking her unconscious and the vial into Pacha's hands.
- Bucky pops a balloon and the jaguar pack doesn't wake up.
- How We Got Here: The film begins with a sad llama sitting all alone in the middle of a rainstorm. The voiceover informs us this llama once was a powerful emperor. The first half of the movie focuses on how he got there.
- Humiliation Conga:
- Yzma suffers one starting with the Door Judo sequence.
- The entire movie can be seen as one for Kuzco.
- Hurricane of Euphemisms:
- In the beginning of the movie, when Kuzco gets rid of Yzma.Yzma: What do you mean, "fired"?
Kuzco: Um, how else can I say it? "You're being let go." "Your department's being downsized." "You're part of an outplacement." "We're going in a different direction." "We're not picking up your option." Take your pick. I've got more.
- Yzma throws it back in Kuzco's face later in the film.
- In the beginning of the movie, when Kuzco gets rid of Yzma.
- I Lied: Pacha agrees to take Kuzco back to his palace if he agrees not to build Kuzcotopia on his village, which he agrees to. They even shake hands on it. But when Pacha gets stuck in the ropes of a suspension bridge, Kuzco refuses to help him and announces that he still plans to build Kuzcotopia when he gets back to the palace.Pacha: So all of it was a lie?
Kuzco: Well, yeah! Wait. [looks up in thought for a moment] Yeah. Yeah, it all was a lie. Toodles!
- Interactive Narrator: Narrator!Kuzco. Eventually, Llama!Kuzco tells him to shut up and stop whining.
- Inevitable Waterfall: With a nice Lampshade Hanging. Also a prime example of Casual Danger Dialogue and This Is Gonna Suck.Pacha: Uh oh.
Kuzco: Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall.
Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom?
Pacha: Most likely.
Kuzco: ... Bring it on.
- In Name Only:
- While it originated as Kingdom of the Sun and features an emperor transformed into a llama and some of the same character names, there isn't much in common.
- It also has virtually nothing to do with "The Emperor's New Clothes" other than that it features an emperor who's a jerk.
- Inner Thoughts, Outsider Puzzlement: The second time that Kronk interacts with his shoulder angel and devil, he talks to them out loud while Kuzco, Pacha, and Yzma are all right there. They're all completely bewildered by Kronk suddenly speaking to himself about whether to follow Yzma's orders to kill Pacha and Kuzco. (Currently the page image.)
- Insistent Terminology:
- "We've been through this... It's a harp, and you know it."
- "That's a harp... and that's a dress." " ROBE."
- Instantly Proven Wrong: During the final chase, Pacha picks potions that transform Kuzco into a turtle and extremely tiny bird. The emperor angrily remarks that Pacha's bad at choosing, and insists he select the next one. He does so...and immediately turns into a massive, immobile whale. Lampshaded when Kuzco mutters "Don't you say a word."
- Intergenerational Friendship: Kuzco and Pacha.
- Inventional Wisdom: The entrance to Yzma's secret lab has a lever that opens a Trap Door to a crocodile pool. It's right next to the lever that opens the door. While it could be used as a trap, Yzma doesn't seem to intend it that way, and she can never remember which one is which.
- Ironic Echo: Yzma throws Kuzco's earlier words when he fired her back in his face when revealing she plans to kill him.Kuzco: Okay, I admit it. Maybe I wasn't as nice as I should have been. But Yzma, you really wanna kill me?!
Yzma: Just think of it as... you're being let go. That your life's going in a different direction. That your body is part of a permanent outplacement.
Kronk: Hey, that's kinda like what he said to you when you got fired!
Yzma: I know. It's called a "cruel irony." Like my dependence on you.
- It's All About Me: Trope Namer. Kuzco, of course. A movie poster featuring him and the trope title word-for-word is the current page image for this trope. Forgetting he's an emperor of a vast empire, he's also a teenager, at a stage in which they self-consciously do think everything is about them.
- Jerkass: Kuzco starts out as one of these and develops into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While it was done in a completely rude and tactless manner and spurned her enough to kick off her plot to gain control over the empire, Kuzco was completely in his rights to fire Yzma when he informs the audience of her habit of trying to run the country behind his back, as her job is to advise the emperor instead of making decisions he should be the one to make.
- Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot: Spoiled, vain Emperor Kuzco is turned into a llama, has to endure a difficult journey to return home and makes friends with a peasant named Pacha, and becomes a better ruler in the end.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Prior to his character development, Kuzco makes Pacha believe he's had a change of heart and decided to build his vacation place elsewhere, only to come out and tell Pacha (on the worst possible timing for the latter) that he was lying in order for him to take him home.
- Karmic Transformation:
- Kuzco, the selfish emperor who plans on destroying Pacha's village to build a pool house for himself, is transformed into a llama by his evil ex-advisor Yzma and forced to work together with Pacha to get back to the palace at which point he starts to become kinder. Ironically, the transformation itself was purely coincidental.
- Yzma's attempts at keeping Kuzco from turning back into a human and finally killing him end up getting her turned into a cat.
- Killed Offscreen: We never see the transformed guards again after they fall out of the water drain in front of Kuzco's palace. Considering that there is a rather large drop involved, and one of the guards even shouts "C'mon men! Nobody lives forever!", it's easy to assume that it didn't end well for them.
- Kiss of Life: Directly called as much, if sarcastically, by Kuzco.
- Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy:Chicha: So, remind me again how you're related to Pacha?
Yzma: Why, I'm his third cousin's brother's wife's step-niece's great aunt. [beat] Twice removed.
- Lampshade Hanging:
- A good chunk of the dialogue, taken from various points of the film. As noted above, see Inevitable Waterfall for a particularly fine example.
- The video game is highly prone to doing this as well. In one cutscene, Pacha points out how five levels cover a twenty-second scene from the movie ("This scene was a lot shorter in the film"), and Kuzco points out that using bananas to regain health is "such an obvious plot device". Other memorable moments include Kuzco saying that Yzma will be back after a boss due to having seen the script, saying that she's a terrible end-of-level boss, and Tipo not being able to find his Jump Button.Kuzco: Kid, how do you know all this?
Chaca: I don't know! Beats me!
- Laser-Guided Karma: Happens a LOT to Kuzco, since he pretty much constantly asks for it. Falling down the bridge instantly after gloating about leaving Pacha there is a prime example.
- Leitmotif: In several places.
- Yzma's is the most noticeable, as it doubles as the main theme of the movie.
- Pacha has a theme that's also pretty noticeable, as it plays prominently in both his entrance and the scene where he returns to his family for the first time.
- Kronk's leitmotif is a bit more subtle, but the theme that plays when Kronk is sleeping in his tent recurs in some of his other scenes.
- Ironically, Kuzco, despite the movie being all about him, doesn't appear to have one: he does have a kick-ass theme, but it doesn't recur.
- Lemony Narrator: Kuzco, for the first half of the movie. Eventually his onscreen self tells his narrator self to shut up, and the rest of the movie has no narration.
- Less Embarrassing Term: It's not a dress, it's a robe.
- Literal Transformative Experience: A spoiled, selfish emperor gets turned into an ugly beast of burden. By the time he transforms back into a human, he's learned to be a much more kind, humble person.
- Literary Allusion Title: As noted above.
- Loophole Abuse:
- Used to justify Kuzco lying about his going back on his promise not to build Kuzcotopia where Pacha's village once was.Pacha: WE SHOOK HANDS ON IT!
Kuzco: Y'know, the funny thing about shaking hands is... you need hands! [cheerfully waves his hooves]
- At the end after Kuzco changes back, he claims he was being literal about wanting a "hill that sings" in order to have an excuse not to build Kuzcotopia on top of Pacha's property.
- Used to justify Kuzco lying about his going back on his promise not to build Kuzcotopia where Pacha's village once was.
- Magic Antidote: Except for the potion that turns Kuzco into a llama at the beginning of the film (which has been diluted), all of Yzma's potions work immediately.
- Magic Potion: Yzma brews various varieties of magic potions, the most plot-important of which is a variety of elixirs that can transform the drinker into another animal. Kuzco drinks one and magically transforms into a llama, and other characters are transformed into other animals such as cows, cats, octopi, lizards, birds, frogs, and more.
- Match Cut: Done with Kuzco's real head cutting to a stone bust about to be smashed by Yzma, and Kronk's block-like torso matching some architecture.
- MayDecember Romance: Chicha asks coyly if Yzma and Kronk have been together long. Yzma gets flustered and makes it seem like they really are an Official Couple.
- Mayincatec: The visual designers had a lot of fun with a fantasy Pre-Columbian South America look. Aside from Kuzco's name (Cuzco was the capital of the Incan Empire), the relationship with history is understandably remote.
- Pacha's name comes from Pacha Camac ("Earth-maker"), an Incan creator god.
- "Yzma" seems to be taken from Izmachi, an ancient Mayan city.
- Meaningful Echo: "Come on, nobody's that heartless!" First uttered by Pacha when Kuzco says he's still going to demolish Pacha's village after Pacha helps him. Later said by Kuzco when Pacha points out he could have let him fall to his death.
- Meaningful Name: Kuzco means "the center of the world", while Yzma means "Shit" in the ancient Peruvian language called Quechua.
- Medium Awareness: To the point Llama!Kuzco talks back at Narrator!Kuzco.
- Minion with an F in Evil: Kronk, of course.Kronk: My spinach puffs!
- Minor Insult Meltdown:Yzma: Kronk! Why did I think you could do this? This one simple thing... It's like I'm talking to a monkey...
Kronk Angel Whoa now.
Yzma: A really. Really. Big. Stupid. Monkey. Named. Kronk!
Kronk Devil: Ouch.
Yzma: And do you want to know something else? I never liked your spinach puffs!
[all Kronks gasp]
[Kronk begins crying]
Kronk Devil: That's it! [cocks pitchfork] She's going down!
- Mirror Character: From what we see of them both at the beginning of the film, rule under Yzma would be the same as rule under Kuzco—they're both thoroughly self-centered people who care little for others and their well-being. Yzma is what Kuzco is poised to become—him plus a century or two (or three). Kuzco learns to become a better person, while Yzma doesn't bother. The characters never explicitly call this out, but the film does noticeably lampshade it, just like everything else.Yzma: [after being fired] How could he do this to me? Why, I practically raised him!
Kronk: Yeah, you'd think he would've turned out better.
Yzma: Yeah, go figure...
- Mirror Reveal: Kuzco only sees that he's been transformed into a llama when he rushes to a pond to look at his reflection after seeing that his hand has become a hoof.
- Misplaced Wildlife:
- That Poor Cat that Kronk trips over (causing Kuzco to fall into Pacha's cart) shouldn't have been in the pre-Columbian New World.
- And in more of a case of mis-identified wildlife; Narrator Kuzco refers to a briefly-seen primate as a "chimp." Chimpanzees are naturally found only in Africa, but the primate in question is clearly a monkey, a much more regionally-appropriate animal.
- Missed Him by That Much: Kuzco and Yzma in the diner.
- Mistaken for Own Murderer: Invoked by Yzma, who tells the guards that Pacha and Llama!Kuzco "murdered the emperor."
- Mobstacle Course: This is how Kronk loses the bag holding the unconscious Kuzco.
- Morphic Resonance:
- Kuzco's llama body having red fur is reminiscent of his red royal robes. His hair is also unaffected by every transformation he goes through.
- Yzma's fur still has a purple tint as a kitten.
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- Murder by Inaction: As Kuzco and Pacha cross a rickety old bridge on their way to the palace, Pacha falls through and ends up tangled up in the ropes. Rather than help him up, Kuzco leaves him there, saying that it's better than imprisoning him in a dungeon as per his original plan. This backfires immediately when he too falls, forcing the two of them to work together to save themselves.
- Musical Exposition: The film is not a musical, but it has one song in the beginning, "Perfect World", that sets up the main character as a vain, selfish, and laid-back ruler.
- Musicalis Interruptus: Don't throw off Kuzco's groove.Guard:: I'm sorry, but you've thrown off the Emperor's groove.
Old Man: SOOOOORRRRRY!
- Mutually Unequal Relationship: Kuzco believes his adviser Yzma is actually happy to serve him, oblivious to her traitorous scheming or that she's the one responsible for turning him into a llama. When he finds her, he looks overjoyed only for his face to fall as he realizes she's talking about killing him.
- Needle in a Stack of Needles: Yzma knocks over various potions to stop Pacha and Kuzco from figuring out which is the antidote, and summons the palace guards to attack them so that they won't have much time to sort through the potions.
- Never Say "Die": Averted. Despite being a G-rated movie, there is no hesitation to use kill, death, and all its variants. Yzma and Kronk say they want Kuzco dead numerous times. It's also outright stated Kuzco would have died in the jungle if Pacha hadn't saved him.
- Night and Day Duo: Yzma and Kuzco, who have a parent and child relationship, seem to have a day/night theme. Kuzco, the titular emperor, wears red and yellow, bright and warm colors, while Yzma, the dark sorceress, wears mostly black and purple, dark and cold colors.
- Nobody Here but Us Statues: Pacha briefly plasters himself in front of the restaurant's "Big Boy"-style logo to avoid Yzma's notice.
- Nonindicative Name: Despite whatever impression the title of this Disney film would give you, no, the story is not an adaptation of The Emperor's New Clothes.
- No Animals Allowed: The diner's No Llamas sign, prompting Kuzco to have to disguise himself to get inside.
- No Fourth Wall: So much Medium Awareness and Lampshade Hanging, too.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Unusual for a Disney film. The closest thing we have is Pacha's relationship with Chicha, but it's mostly portrayed in a "happily married for a long time" way.
- No OSHA Compliance:
- The lever that flips you into Yzma's secret lab is right next to a lever opening a trapdoor to a crocodile pit. Even Yzma wonders why the second lever is there.
- And that's not to mention multiple cases of complete and utter lack of any railings over large drops, like the top of where Kuzco's throne is, or the bridge that Kronk runs across at one point while carrying Kuzco.
- Number Two for Brains: Kronk is one dim dragon.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: How Pacha's family deals with Yzma, especially after locking her in the closet.
- Obviously Evil: Yzma is Lean and Mean with lavender colored skin (while everyone else has human colored skin) and has wrinkles all over her face. She is even acknowledged by different characters as "scary beyond all reason".
- Obvious Pregnancy: Chicha is pregnant. In fact, this was the first animated Disney film to feature a pregnant woman onscreen.
- Offscreen Teleportation:
- Tipo and Chaca do this when tarring and feathering Yzma—as she goes rolling down the hill in a wheelbarrow, they appear in her path in turns holding up a beehive and a pillow for her to run into, covering her in honey and feathers.
- Lampshaded with Kronk and Yzma.
- Oh, Crap!: Kuzco has several during his initial trip through the jungle: after accidentally tumbling into a jaguar den, when the squirrel he mocked seconds before blows up a balloon to wake said jaguars, when Kuzco himself accidentally wakes the jaguars anyway and they start chasing him, and when they've backed him up before a steep cliff drop.
- Open Secret: Both Kuzco and the guards know about Yzma's "secret" lab.
- Opt Out: "Hey, I've been turned into a cow. Can I go home?" "You're excused. Anyone else?" "No, no, we're good."
- Overly Long Gag:Tipo: [to Yzma] I don't believe you're really my great-aunt. You're more like my great-great-great—
[cut to another scene, then later back to Tipo and Yzma]
Yzma: Grr! All right! Are you through?
Tipo: ...great-great aunt.
- Overt Operative: Kronk tries to be sneak around with the sack containing Kuzco, but he hums his own theme tune and while he thinks no one can see him, in reality no one cares about what he's doing.
- Ow, My Body Part! / Staircase Tumble: Kronk combines these at one point: "Back! Elbow! Shoulder!"
- Parental Abandonment: No mention is ever made to Kuzco's parents, presumably the previous rulers of the empire. However, given that Yzma says she "practically raised [Kuzco]" and he's the ruler of the empire, it's safe to assume they're long dead.
- Partially-Concealed-Label Gag: Yzma tries to poison Kuzco and grabs a potion with a skull on the label. But when Kuzco ingests the potion, he transforms into a llama instead of dying. Yzma looks at the bottle again to confirm she grabbed the right one, and notices the label was folded funny—unfolding it reveals the skull was actually a llama silhouette.
- Personal Rain Cloud: With lightning, as the plot requires!
- Pigeonholed Voice Actor: Patrick Warburton as Kronk and Eartha Kitt as Yzma. Incidentally, this was before Patrick Warburton was pigeonholed in voice acting — in fact, this movie probably caused it.
- Incidentally, this is used as a subtle joke: Yzma's "One-Winged Angel" form is in particular A kitten possibly because Eartha Kitt had previously played Catwoman on Adam West's version of Batman (1966). She becomes an even more literal Catwoman in the sequel.
- Turns out this seemingly unnatural role was perfect for Warburton as this movie launched a long and successful voice acting career.
- Pimped-Out Dress: All of Yzma's outfits.
- Plot Hole: Kronk and Yzma fall into a literal one — see Hand Wave, above.
- Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Kuzco leaves Pacha when he insists the latter's lying to him that Yzma and Kronk want to kill the former. This promptly turns out to be a mistake when he learns Yzma and Kronk do want to kill him and he just abandoned his only friend and chances of becoming human again, going home, or regaining his throne for nothing.
- Plummet Perspective: In both the bridge-scene and the climax.
- Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Note what happens to the cactus that Yzma dumps her dose on...
- Politicians Kiss Babies: Kuzco is presented with three babies to kiss in the opening. He simply stamps them with a kiss mark stamper.
- Pop-Star Composer: Originally, had a whole bunch of songs by Sting, but... well, see Cut Song above.
- Pregnant Badass: The pregnant Chicha whacks Kuzco with a Frying Pan of Doom, and later "fights" Yzma. She's very far along so she needs her kids to help but still manages to hold her own well.
- Pride Before a Fall: Kuzco.
- Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Like everything else in the movie, done as a joke as Pacha's children have horrible visions of his fate. Like Pacha kissing a llama.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Kronk.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Pacha's children deploy these at one point attempting to stay up late. He and Chicha successfully counter with a deliberate display of Sickening Sweethearts.
- Purely Aesthetic Era: "Somewhere in the Jungle.."
- Rage Againstthe Reflection: More of a panic than a rage, but Kuzco freaks out when he sees his llama reflection in some water.
- Reactive Continuous Scream: "Demon llama!"
- "DEMON LLAMA!? WHERE?!? AAAAH!"
- Real Men Wear Pink: Kronk enjoys baking and cooking.
- Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: During Kuzco's character introduction, he cuts a red ribbon and breaks a bottle against a ship's hull a few seconds later.
- Riches to Rags: Happens to Kuzco at the beginning.
- Right-Hand Hottie: Kronk, to Yzma.
- Rope Bridge: Subverted in that the bridge-crossers actually fall into the chasm.
- Rule of Funny: Seemingly the guiding principle behind the entire movie.
- Rule of Three: Kuzco puts out Pacha's campfire three times in a row; first by spitting it out, then by shaking himself dry, and finally by throwing Pacha's shirt onto the fire.
- Scary Stinging Swarm: While in the jungle, Yzma gets chased back and forth by angry Synchronized Swarming bees.
- Schizo Tech: The roller-coaster, the "secret lab", the Theme Song Guy's wireless microphone, roadside diners...
- Seeking the Intangible: Downplayed, but the concept of the emperor losing and finding his groove is a theme throughout the film.
- Self-Poisoning Gambit: After Kronk mixes up which goblet has the poison, he's forced to make sure all three are poisoned, and he and Yzma have to do the variation where they pretend to drink while discretely dispose of their drinks (or not so discreetly, in Kronk's case) in order to make sure Kuzco drinks and doesn't get suspicious.
- Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing:
- When Kuzco transforms into a llama, his clothes stay on him. When he takes the potion to transform him back into a human, he isn't wearing any clothes. Instead of a direct cut, a cloud of smoke appears before it presumably takes us to a few days into the future...take from that what you will.
- Averted in the case of Yzma, however. When she transforms into a cat, her clothes disappear.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Downplayed. The final chase sequence, wherein the transformed guards are pursuing Pacha and Kuzco, does have some jokes (largely because Kuzco keeps transforming into even more useless animals than his llama form). However, the guards are depicted as a genuine threat (such as an octopus nearly chopping off the heroes' heads), and Kronk is disposed of via trapdoor before the chase begins. Even the music becomes more intense during the scene.
- The movies The Fly (1958) (the aforementioned scene with the fly and spider) and The Wizard of Oz, among others.
- The squirrel is reminiscent of one Bugs Bunny in his personality. He even has the buck teeth.
- The jaguar-chase is almost certainly a homage to the Headless Horseman scene in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
- "Pull the lever, Kronk" is used to the same effect as the "Push the button, Max" in The Great Race.
- Kuzco being turned into numerous animals via Yzma's potions, all while retaining his distinct color scheme and appearance, references the "Magic Duel" scene from The Sword in the Stone.
- It's not certain whether this was intentional or not, but Kronk's shoulder devil (and later all three Kronks) saying "That'll work" may count as an in-studio reference to Walt Disney himself: never one to give too much credit, he'd only ever approve of someone else's ideas with "Yeah, that'll work."
- Show Some Leg: Yzma shows some of her leg at one point. To quote Kuzco and Pacha: "Ack, no, aieee!"
- Shrug Take: When the villains are in pursuit of the heroes, and their progress on the map becomes visible on the actual roads and paths, Yzma and Kronk decide that they're better off ignoring this phenomenon. At the moment, that scene is even the page image for the trope!
- Similar Item Confusion: Kronk has this problem, in that he mistakes a bottle of llama extract for deadly poison, which results in the intended victim being transformed into a llama as opposed to full-on dead.Yzma: This isn't poison. This is extract of ... LLAMA!
Kronk: You know, in my defense, your poisons all look alike. You might think about relabeling some of them.
- Skewed Priorities: The reason Yzma gave up on her original revenge plan wasn't because she realized it suffered from Complexity Addiction, but rather because she'd save on postage by poisoning Kuzco.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: Yzma, though being unattractive and evil are already two strikes against her.Yzma: Pull the lever, Kronk. [ka-chunk] WRONG LEVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!
- Yzma is possibly Disney's best example of this trope, as much like the rest of the cast the character goes through constant screwball situations — especially when she's in the jungle. Case in point, there's a scene where she gets covered in grime, then attacked by bees (for no discernible reason) within a few seconds, running around in the background while her sidekick in the foreground pays no attention, and then she takes a pratfall into the mud again. Then she gets tarred (well, "honeyed") and feathered and confused for a piñata.
- Smart Jerk and Nice Moron: The wicked, scheming high priestess Yzma engineer a coup d'etat, assisted by her muscular but moronic henchman, Kronk. Yzma is described in-universe as "scary beyond all reason" and shows no sympathy to anybody, while Kronk is a Minion with an F in Evil, who even fills in as a line cook to keep a diner running.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: How to speak Squirrel is one thing you learn in the Junior Chipmunks.
- Spiritual Successor: The Teacher's Pet movie, made by Disney a few years later, has a very similar sense of humor.
- Spoiled Brat: Kuzco. He eventually gets better.Kuzco: Now I feel really bad. Bad llama.
- Sprouting Ears: When Kuzco transforms into a llama, the first things to transform are his ears, which pop out of his head.
- The Smurfette Principle: Yzma is the only female in the main cast. The closest largest role held by a woman is Pacha's wife Chicha.
- Squick: In-universe example, with the Gross-Up Close-Up on Yzma's face, and later the aforementioned Show Some Leg scene.
- Staggered Zoom: Parodied: "Um, what's with the chimp and the bug? Can we get back to me?"
- Stalling the Sip: Played for laughs and subverted. Kuzco finally stops stalling and collapses, only to get better and proceed to yammer throughout his transformation, while Yzma desperately tries to subtly tell Kronk to Just Hit Him.
- Stealth Pun: When the guard who has been turned into a cow asks Yzma if he could leave, she lets him. She's letting the cow go home.
- Strange Minds Think Alike:
Pacha: [to a pair of old men playing a board game] What'd they look like?
- When Pacha and Kuzco see that llamas are banned in the restaurant they were planning to eat at, their first thought is somehow to disguise Kuzco as Pacha's newlywed, human, female wife.
- When Pacha and Kuzco return to Pacha's village and learn that Yzma and Kronk have gotten there before them:
Old Man: Well, there was this big guy, and this old woman who was... well, [turns to his friend] how would you describe her?
Old Man's Friend: Ah... "scary beyond all reason"?
Old Man: Yeah, that's it.
- Talking Animal:
- Yzma's Animorphism potions still leave the affected human the ability to talk. This is used to pinpoint Kuzco down, as Yzma knows the "talking llama" has to be him.
- There's also a fly that can talk. Since he's the only non-human transformed animal shown to do this, this has lead some fans to theorize that the fly was a transformed human.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: Yzma (eventually) chooses this method for her attempted murder plot.
- Tar and Feathers: Yzma gets covered in honey and feathers before being used as a pinata.
- Technicolor Science: Yzma's potions have bright colours like purple and pink.
- That Poor Plant:
- When Yzma accidentally knocks a vial of poison onto a plant, it is instantly reduced to a smear of blackened ash.
- In the dinner scene, Yzma ditches her llama-transformation drink into a small potted cactus. In a later shot, the plant looks like a llama.
- Theme Song: Kronk supplies his own.
- Thin Chin of Sin: Yzma has a funnel-shaped chin that curves inwards, making it very small and pointy.
- Third-Act Misunderstanding: After several antics in the diner, Pacha informs Kuzco that Yzma and Kronk are trying to kill him, only for Kuzco to blow him off, believing that they were actually there to bring him back to the palace. He then sends Pacha away, believing he's the one trying to keep him from getting back. Only when Kuzco overhears the two talking about killing him does he realize he sent his only friend away for nothing.
- This Cannot Be!!: Kuzco says this after finding out that both Yzma and Kronk got to the palace first.Kuzco: No! It can't be! How did you get back here before us?
- This is also Kuzco's reaction when he realizes he has hooves instead of hands.
- This Is What the Building Will Look Like: The "Kuzco-topia" summer home is introduced like this.
- To The Bat Noun: "To the secret lab!"
- Too Dumb to Live: Kuzco has dinner served to him by the Obviously Evil Yzma- after he's fired her.
- Toon Physics: The movie uses quite a bit of it, which is somewhat unusual for a mainline Disney movie.
- While playing with jump ropes in Pacha's house, Kronk and Yzma both keep two ropes going without moving their arms. Eventually, Kronk lets go of one of the ropes, and it keeps properly spinning even though no one's holding it.
- Kronk and Yzma only fall down a cliff when they notice that they should be falling.
- Kuzco's mouth is stuffed full of a swarm of bats, with his cheeks expanding to larger than the rest of his head. Moments later, he's fine.
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Lampshaded. Yzma and Kronk manage to get back to Kuzco's palace before Kuzco and Pacha, despite the heroes having a good headstart and the villains falling down a cliff. Everyone openly wonders how Yzma and Kronk got there first, with Kronk saying that "by all accounts, it doesn't make sense" how they did. But then, everyone just shrugs and moves on with the plot.
- Travel Montage: At one point the characters wonder why their feet are tracing lines across the map, but they quickly shrug it off; it's not the strangest thing that happens in this movie.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Pacha and Chicha. Pacha is chubby and has a weird shaped nose, while his wife Chicha is slim and pretty.
- Unfortunate Item Swap: The basis of the entire plot. Kronk mistakes the bottle of "extract of llama" for the bottle of poison due to faulty labeling.
- The Unintelligible: Bucky the squirrel.note
- Unreliable Voiceover: Kuzco both stars in and narrates the movie; at one point the two Kuzcos argue with each other. Also commenting on a segment where Kuzco-on-screen is unconscious.
- The Unreveal: How exactly did Yzma and Kronk beat Kuzco and Pacha back to the palace? (Answer: the map Kronk shows has a huge Plot Hole in it.)
- The UnsmileKuzco: So, no hard feelings about being let go?
Yzma: [teeth clenched] ...None whatsoever.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Kuzco.
- Viewers Are Morons: Kuzco's attitude when he's the narrator.
- Villain Protagonist: Kuzco, while arguably entertaining, is also irredeemable for the first half of the film. As an emperor he is, at best, neglectful to his subjects, and at worst is actively abusive. On a personal level his interactions range from casually rude to cruel.
- Was It All a Lie?:
Kuzco: This has all been an act and I almost fell for it!
- "Well, yeah! No, wait... uh, yeah. Yeah, it all was a lie... toodles!"
- Kuzco thinks this when he believes Pacha is lying to him that Yzma and Kronk are trying to kill him.
- We Need a Distraction: While at a diner, Pacha overhears Yzma and learns she plans to murder Kuzco. To distract Yzma so he and Kuzco can escape, Pacha lies to the waitress claiming that it's Yzma's birthday and asks for a celebration. Yzma's suddenly mobbed by the diner staff singing "Happy Birthday" to her while Pacha drags Kuzco away.
- What You Are in the Dark: Played for Laughs. Kronk has dumped Kuzco, now a llama, into a stream, when he starts having second thoughts. This prompts his shoulder angel and devil to appear and comically argue with each other, leaving Kronk more confused. Ultimately, he gets Kuzco out of the stream before he goes over the edge. Played straight later on when Kuzco wanders off into the jungle, despite Pacha's warnings. Pacha could easily leave him to die, since Kuzco still wants to destroy his village. He even considers it for a moment, but ultimately his conscience gets the better of him.
- With Catlike Tread: Kronk "sneaking" out the palace to dispose of Kuzco.Kuzco-as-narrator: Ugh, he's doing his own theme music? Big, dumb, and tone-deaf. I am so glad I was unconscious for all of this.
- World of Ham: Being a revival of the screwball comedy, the main characters (Pacha less so) and a few supporting ones - such as Tipo, with the "great-great-great-great" tirade - throw subtlety out the window and overact for the hell of ot.
- Worst Aid: Played totally for laughs. Beware the pop-out llama tongue.
- Would Harm a Senior: When Kuzco accidentally bumps into an old man unfortunate enough to be standing nearby during his opening song, Kuzco has the old man thrown out the window. Fortunately, the old man ends up comically wrapped up in some banners and unharmed, and Kuzco apologizes to him in the end.
- Wrestler in All of Us: Yzma actually suplexes Pacha during the climax.
- You Have Failed Me: A vicious tongue-lashing as opposed to outright death.