Kronk: Yeah. Weird...
A very atypical animated movie from Disney. Hugely self-aware and a lot more risque 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 a heavily comedic film that veered heavily away from its original concept of an Incan version of The Prince and the Pauper. 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 loosely based 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. This all plays out more like a feature-length Looney Tunes cartoon than a typical Disney flick.
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).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Ambiguously Jewish: The waitress at the diner when she delivers Kuzco and Pacha their order 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 Hash House Lingo and an Expy of the Big Boy (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.
- 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.
- As the Good Book Says...: Spoofed when Kronk and his shoulder guardians turn against Yzma.Shoulder Angel: Now, now, remember, guys. "From above, the wicked shall receive their just reward."
(They all look up and see a chandelier, as a heavenly chorus plays)
All three of them: That'll work.
- 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."
- 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 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.
- Berserk Button: 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.
- 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.
- 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 Forced Transformation, 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.
- Blasphemous Praise: Kuzco's theme song guy describe him as, "the Alpha and Omega," a symbolism used in Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam to represent the Divine. This is in keeping with the tendency of many rulers throughout history to declare themselves God-Emperor.
- Book Ends: 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 Old Trends: Along with having a very different tone from the previous films in the Disney Animated Canon, it is the first one aside from Dinosaur to not be an adaptation of (or heavily influenced by) another work. However, this was not intentional. The original incarnation of the movie back when it was called Kingdom of the Sun was going to incorporate aspects of The Prince and the Pauper but as that version fell apart, the rush to produce a final product resulted in a heavily comedic original film.
- 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.
- 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: Kronk slices a rope holding a chandelier over Yzma. She survives by being thin enough to seamlessly fit through the single hole in the decoration's centre.
- When Kronk and Yzma are at the door to her "secret lab", Kronk pulls a lever and she drops through a trapdoor only to reappear at the lab door, soaking wet with a crocodile in tow, saying "Why do we even have that lever?". Later, after we see llama Kuzco and Pancha reach the palace first, it cuts to a soaking wet Kuzco entering the lab door with a crocodile in tow saying "Okay, why does she even have that lever?".
- When Yzma is upset that Kuzco drank "extract of Llama," not poison, Kronk notes that all her potions look alike and she should label them better. Towards the end of the film, when Kuzco and Pacha are looking for the potion that will change him back to human, Yzma spills all her unlabeled potion vials to the floor, making it impossible to identify the one they need.
- 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.
- At the conclusion, Kuzco calls out Pacha, saying that when he visited Pacha's town, the mountains don't sing and reports that this is definitely the reason he won't be building his waterpark there.
- 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.
- 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 Skill:
- Yzma mentions turning Kuzco into a flea, which establishes that she has potions that can turn people into animals. Later, Kuzco accidentally turns into a llama thanks to one of these animal-transformation potions.
- Kuzco and Pacha make their way out of a ravine by pressing their backs against each other and walking up the cliff's walls. They later use the same technique during the film's climax when they have to climb the palace's walls.
- 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.
- Circling Birdies: Kuzco sees llamas circling his head 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.
- Comforting Comforter: On Kuzco and Pacha's first night in the jungle, as Kuzco is trying to sleep and shivering in the cold, Pacha lays his own pacha over him to keep him warm. This in spite of the fact that Kuzco still planned on destroying Pacha's home village. This act of kindness seemingly leads to Kuzco having a change of heart and promising not to destroy the village the next morning.
- 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.
- Community-Threatening Construction: Emperor Kuzco, being a self-absorbed, egoistic jerk, wants to build Kuzcotopia, a giant summer palace complete with a waterslide meant for him alone, as a present for his 18th birthday. He intends to build it on the hill of Pacha's village which requires the town's destruction. When Kuzco is accidentally turned into a llama and needs Pacha to take him home, Kuzcotopia becomes the point of conflict between the two as Pacha won't help Kuzco it unless he agrees to change his plans.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Pacha's clumsy swinging-vine rescue was the only real way to save Kuzco from the panthers on the cliff-edge. However, Pacha completely misses Kuzco and his first pass and the return swing ends up with the pair getting tied up in a tree hanging precariously over a cliff. Kuzco can't wait to comment on this.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 to get rid of Kuzco involved turning him into a flea, putting that flea into a box, then putting that box inside another box and then mailing the box to herself upon which she'd smash that box with hammer. Even after she decides to go with a more straightforward plan, her main reasoning seems to be that it would save on postage.
- Conscience Makes You Go Back:
- Kronk dumps the bag holding the unconscious llama Kuzco into a river, but at the urging of his shoulder angel, rushes back to save him before the bag goes over the falls.
- Pacha 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 knowing what decent guy he is, there's no surprise when he appears in time to rescue Kuzco from the jaguars.
- Subverted with Kuzco. When Pacha ends up falling through a wooden bridge, Kuzco appears to go back to help him... only to proceed to mock him and leave him to die because he dared to insist that Kuscotopia be built somewhere else.
- 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.
- 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. When he opens it, he accidentally smashes her against the wall, inadvertently saving the day.
- Kuzco, Pacha, Yzma, and Kronk end 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.
- Cosmetic Horror: Kronk bursts into Yzma's tent at night after having an ephiphany on where to find Kusco.Kronk: Yzma!
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!
- 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: Apparently part of Yzma's sleeping routine. Becomes Cosmetic Horror when Kronk interrupts her slumber.
- Cue the Rain: Llama-Kuzco gets hit with a sudden downpour when he's alone and abandoned in the jungle.
- Cute Kitten: Yzma is transformed into a harmless little cat in 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.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Kuzco tries to walk on his hindlegs after being transformed, but quickly finds it impossible. Even when he gives into walking on four, his body's not used to it yet and his back legs keep crumbling to the ground.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kuzco has a sarcastic insult for every situation, even when his life is in danger.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: When pursuing Kuzco and Pacha down a drain hole, the palace guard leader gives a rousing "C'mon men! Nobody lives forever!" before they all drop down the hole to their apparent deaths as they are never seen again.
- 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 Looney Tunes production than something from the House of Mouse. There are times that the soundtrack even has a Carl Stalling feel.
- 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:
- Devil's Pitchfork: Kronk's shoulder devil wields a golden trident. When Yzma insults Kronk's cooking, the devil pumps his trident like a shotgun and declares that she's going down.
- 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 Death:
- At dinner, Yzma has Kronk put poison in Kuzco's drink and he faceplants onto the dinner table as soon as he finishes it. However, Kuzco recovers a few seconds later and begins his transformation into a llama.
- 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 before hitting the ground.
- Disney Villain Death: Subverted. Yzma falls from the top of her palace near the end of the film, but falls into a trampoline and survives.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?"
- Done hilariously, where an elderly man accidentally bumps into the Emperor during his song number:
- 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?!"
- 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 Forced Transformation who just learned no one in the world cares that he's missing, and he rejected the only person who ever showed him some genuine kindness.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: Kronk's shoulder devil does this with his pitchfork when he decides that Yzma needs to be taken down.
- Dress-O-Matic: When Yzma and Kronk ride the cart that takes them to the secret lab, they emerge at the end wearing lab coats and goggles through some unseen mechanism. When Kuzco and Pacha take the same ride later in the movie, they also come out wearing these coats, although theirs don't fit them correctly as the device was tailored to Yzma and Kronk.
- Easily Forgiven: The old man who had been defenestrated for "throwing off the Emperor's groove" appears to forgive Kuzco quite easily without holding a grudge. He even implies that being tossed out a window is a somewhat common event for him.
- 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.
- Embarrassingly Dresslike Outfit: When Kronk's shoulder devil and angel first appear, the shoulder devil points out the reasons why Kronk shouldn't trust the angel, including a disparaging comment about his heavenly robe being a dress.Devil Kronk: Listen up, big guy! I've got three good reasons why you should just walk away. Number one: look at that guy! He's got that sissy stringy music thing.Angel Kronk: We've been through this. It's a harp, and you know it.Devil Kronk: Oh, right. That's a harp... and that's a dress.Angel Kronk: Robe!
- "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!
- 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:
- When Pacha angrily points out that Kuzco betrays his promise even after they shook hands on it, Kuzco waves his hoofs in front of Pacha and retorts that to shake hands requires actually having hands.
- Kuzco tells Pacha that he's not going to build Kuzcotopia over Pacha's town because despite the claim that the "hills sing" Kuzco reports that he heard no singing when he visited Pacha's home. It's obvious that Kuzco is just trying to save face and is using exact words to cover up that he changed his mind.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Forced Transformation: 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.
- In the Flashback where Kuzco was a baby, 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.
- 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.
- 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, when Kronk and Yzma need to get rid of their poisoned drinks, Yzma discreetly pours hers into a small potted cactus. When the scene cuts back to Yzma, we see that it has taken on the shape of a llama.
- In one scene, Kronk finds another bird to add to his "Exotic Bird Bingo" sheet 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.
- 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.
- Gentle Giant:
- Kronk is the biggest, most muscular character in the film. He's also 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 filled with bottles of her various magical potions. They're all pink in color and very poorly labeled, making it difficult to distinguish from another. Kronk even lampshades 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 Hash House Lingo and an Expy of the Big Boy statue outside.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: Yzma is scary enough at a distance but when Kuzco introduces us to her the camera does a close-up pan over her face and we get this running commentary.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?
- Hammy Herald: The Theme Song Guy, voiced by Tom Jones, who introduces Kuzco in a bombastic song.
- Hand Wave: Wonderfully invoked near the end of the movie, when Kronk is directly asked by Yzma asked how they managed to get to the palace before Kuzco and Pancha. His 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. It gives us one of movie's many quotable lines.Kuzco: No touchy!! No touchy, no touch.
- HeelFace Turn:
- Kronk. As he was always the Minion with an F in Evil, it was not a particularly big step for him.
- Kuzco. This is the essence of his character growth throughout the story. To go from a narcissitic, selfish, self-involved person to a nicer guy who thinks about others for a change.
- 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.Kusco: But do you really want to 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 's part of a permanent outplacement.
Kronk: Hey, that's kind of like what he said to you when you got fired.
Yzma: I know, it's called a cruel irony, like my dependence on you.
- 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! No 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: Lampshade Hanging with a good dollop 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: Despite the title strongly implying some similarity in story to "The Emperor's New Clothes" the two stories have nothing in common other than featuring 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.
- Insistent Terminology: Kronk's shoulder angel and devil have a feisty argument about the angel's outfit.Devil: Look at that guy, he's got that sissy music thing.
Angel: We've been through this. It's a harp, and you know it.
Devil: Right. That's a harp... and that's a dress.
- 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:
Kuzco: Okay, I admit it. Maybe I wasn't as nice as I should have been. But Yzma, you really wanna kill me?!
- Yzma throws Kuzco's earlier words when he fired her back in his face when revealing she plans to kill him.
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.
- Pacha says "Nobody's that heartless!" about Kuzco demolishing his village. Kuzco says the same thing when Pacha is surprised he saved him from a fall.
- It's All About Me: 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 but receives a heaping portion of character development during the story.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While it was done in a tactless manner that fired up her desire for revenge, Kuzco, as Emperor, can fire Yzma at any time for any reason but especially after having caught her trying to run the country behind his back, AGAIN!. She's lucky to have escaped with her life.
- 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 by Kuzco, complete with dripping sarcasm.
- 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: The movie practically lives by this trope, constantly having the characters find themselves in unrealistic situations and question how this is possible
- 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.
- Laughing Mad: Kuzco laughs hysterically upon realizing he can no longer walk on his hind legs.
- Leitmotif: 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.
- 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: Subverted. The title sets up an expectation that it has similarities with "The Emperor's New Clothes" but actually has no overlap with that narrative and simply refers to Kuzco's character growth in the film and that his "new groove" is different from when the story started.
- Loophole Abuse:
- Used by Kuzco to justify his going back on his promise not to destroy Pacha's village and build Kuzcotopia.Pacha: WE SHOOK HANDS ON IT!
Kuzco: Y'know, the funny thing about shaking hands is... you need hands! [cheerfully waves his hooves]
- Not really abuse as the Emperor is above the law, but after Kuzco changes back, he covers up his change of heart by claiming he was being literal about wanting a "hill that sings" in order to have an excuse not to build Kuzcotopia where he originally planned.
- Used by Kuzco to justify his going back on his promise not to destroy Pacha's village and build Kuzcotopia.
- 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.
- 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. The story makes it clear that Kronk has a good heart and is pressured by Yzma to do "evil". However, even when directly ordered by her to take an unconscious Kuzco out of the city and get rid of him, he has an attack of conscience that prevents him from following through.
- 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.
- Narrator Kuzco refers to a briefly-seen primate as a "chimp" but Chimpanzees are naturally found only in Africa. The primate in question is clearly a monkey, a much more regionally-appropriate animal so it's more a case of mis-identified wildlife which isn't surprising given Kuzco's lack of attention toward anything besides himself;
- There are also a lot of animals among Yzmas transformation potions that she shouldn't even know to exist given the place and time.
- 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.
- Monster in the Moat: The entrance to Yzma's secret lab, located inside the royal palace, has a lever that activates a trapdoor, sending the person on the trapdoor into some sort of body of water with alligators. We don't see where exactly Yzma and Kuzco go when this happens to them, only that they walk back in with an alligator biting their clothes. This gag was occasionally brought back during the series despite the change of location to Kuzco Academy.
- 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 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: While "moonwalking" during his musical number, Kuzco backs into an old man who's too slow to get out of his way, "throwing off his groove" and causing his theme song to come to an abrupt halt with the sound of screeching vehicle tires. A guard tosses the old man out a window in a routine sort of way.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 one they need, and summons the palace guards to attack them so that they won't have much time to sort through the potions.
- 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 the impression given by the movie's title, 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: 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. Ironically, the film gained notoriety for be being the first film in the DisneyAnimatedCanon to show a pregnant woman.
- 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.
- There is also the complete and utter lack of any railings over large drops, like the top platform of Kuzco's throne, or the impossiblly steep stairs that Kronk runs down while carrying Kuzco in the sack.
- Number Two for Brains: Although called Yzma's "right hand man" in the movie, Kronk is really more of her lackey and a lovably dimwitted one.
- 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 humiliating Yzma. She clearly passes both children as she flies out the door and rolls down the hill in a wheelbarrow. However, they now re-appear in her path in turns holding up a beehive and a pillow for her to run into, covering her in honey and feathers.
- During the race to the palace, at one point Kronk and Yzma are struck by lighting and plummet down a ravine, giving Pacha and Kuzco a clear shot to the finish line. Yet, Kronk and Yzma still get the palace first as Yzma has already claimed the potion Kuzco is looking for.
- 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: Kuzco knows very well about Yzma's "secret" lab.
- Opt Out: When Yzma summons a group of guards to her lab to kill Pacha and Llama Kuzco, Pacha flips a table of potions at the guards turning them into a cluster of animals (boar, frog, cow, ostrich, octopus, and gorilla) leading to this great exchange:Yzma: Get them!
A Guard: Hey, I've been turned into a cow. Can I go home?
Yzma: You're excused. Anyone else?
Remaining Guards: No, we're good.
Yzma: Get them!
- Overly-Long Gag: The exchange between Tipo and Yzma is another humorous jab at how old and wrinkled she is. Because of the scene cut, the "overly long" aspect is something implied rather than experienced directly.Tipo: 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!: During a Staircase Tumble, Kronk gives us a running tally as he hits each step. "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: After the attempt to poison Kuzco results in him turning into a llama, Yzma demands Kronk show her the poison vial he used. At first it looks like it's labeled with a skull but it turns out the label was folded over and unfolding it reveals it was actually a llama silhouette and Yzma realizes they used "extract of llama" instead of poison.
- 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-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: When Kronk can't remember which chalice has the poison in it, his solution is to remix the drinks so everyone now has a poisoned chalice which forces Kronk and Yzma to have to discard their drinks. Fortunately Kuzco is so self-absorbed with his own drinking that they get away with their completely obvious "non-drinking".
- 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, the story was conceived as a musical called "The Kingdom of the Sun" which had many songs composed by Sting. When the movie was retooled as a screwball comedy, Sting's contributions were trimmed down to Kuzco's "theme song" and "My Funny Friend and Me" which plays over the end credits and has barely any connection to the story.
- Pride Before a Fall: Kuzco begins the film as an emperor on the top of the world, but can only think about himself and treats everyone beneath him like utter trash. This leads to his advisor plotting to kill him. Instead, she accidentally turns him into a llama, and he is tied in a sack and carried away to a nearby village. He eventually ends up alone and stranded in the jungle.
- Primp of Contempt: Kuzco obviously doesn't care that Yzma's upset over being fired, as he immediately starts checking his nails afterwards.
- 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.
- 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.."
- Randomized Transformation: Due to how poorly (if at all) Yzma labels her potions, it is almost always a wild guess as to what each of them do. Because of this, when Pacha and Kuzco get a hold of a bunch of potions to change Kuzco back into a human, they go through a roulette of animals while on the run, never knowing what Kuzco will turn into, until they are down to the last potion.
- Reactive Continuous Scream: Pacha screams when he hears Kuzco talk, calling him a talking demon llama. This causes Kuzco to look around and spot a different llama and screams, which causes the other llama to scream.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Kronk is a muscular man who 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.
- Rule of Funny: The guiding principle behind the entire movie for any logical inconsistencies or historical inaccuracies.
- 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...
- Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: As a screwball comedy, it should come as no surprise that the movie plays fast and loose with this trope.
- When Kuzco drinks the potion and transforms into a llama, he is still wearing his clothes even when Kronk knocks him out (although apparently Yzma and Kronk remove his clother before putting him in the sack)
- When the guards are hit with various potions their clothes disappear but they still have their helmets on and their weapons in hand in their animal forms.
- When Yzma triggers the kitty potion, her clothes simply disappear. However, her potion does involve a big magical explosion with lots of smoke so it's quite possible her clothes were simply blown away by the transformation.
- Kuzco witnesses a fly caught in a web screaming "Help Me! Help Me!" in a high pitched voice just before getting eaten by a spider as a direct homage to The Fly (1958).
- In reference to The Wizard of Oz, while searching through Yzma's potions trying to find one that will turn Kuzco into a human, he finds potions for "lion, tiger, and bears." When he sees the spot for the human potion is empty, Yzma finishes the quote with "Oh my."
- 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.
- 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 is a great example of this trope, as she, much like the rest of the cast goes through constant screwball situations and physical abuse. 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 Kronk 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 advisor Yzma tries to have the Emperor killed, assisted by her muscular but moronic henchman, Kronk. Yzma shows no sympathy to anybody and has a "secret lab" where she develops potions that can transform people into animals, while Kronk is a Minion with an F in Evil, who even fills in as a line cook to keep a diner running.
- So Hideous, It's Terrifying: Yzma is called by both the elderly and Kuzco himself as "scary beyond all reason". Almost everyone agrees that she's extremely ugly and the fact she seems to believe herself beautiful doesn't help. Still, the writers don't spare the audience from watching her sleeping in her tent with night makeup and, more famously, lifting her skirt in front of the leads.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Kronk learned to speak Squirrel when he was a Junior Chipmunk. At the end of the film, he begins teaching the skill to the children from Pacha's village.
- Spoiled Brat: Kuzco. He's had everything in his life handed to him, so he expects he can always get whatever he wants.
- Sprouting Ears: When Kuzco transforms into a llama, the first things to transform are his ears, which pop out of his head.
- Squick: In-universe example, with the Gross-Up Close-Up on Yzma's face, and later the aforementioned Show Some Leg scene.
- Staggered Zoom: Done for laughs in the scene where Kronk has barely prevented the sack containing the unconscious emperor from going over a waterfall. The camera pauses on Kronk then zooms out five times... until finally the waterfall isn't even visible anymore, and the focus is now on a monkey eating a bug which is lampshaded by Kuzco the narrator.Narrator Kuzco: Uh, what's with the chimp and the bug? Can we get back to me?
- Status Quo Is God: Near the climax, Kuzco takes a bunch of potions that transform him into various different animals. However, the final potion he takes just happens to be a llama one, so he returns back to the llama form we've grown used to for the final climax.
- 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.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Played for Laughs with Kronk's shoulder angel and devil. Turns out, they don't actually exist. Whenever they appear, Kronk is actually just imagining their presence and talking to himself. Yzma, Kuzco, and Pacha see him do this, and are baffled by 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. It also allows the transformed palace guards to continue to receive their orders from Yzma.
- There's a fly that can talk which has nothing to do with the plot but exists simply as a Rule of Funny homage to The Fly (1958).
- Tampering with Food and Drink: After working up a complex plan for revenge, Yzma settles on a simpler method of just poisoning Kuzco when he comes over for dinner.
- 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.
- This is 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. He's completely reassured by her strained, teeth-clenched response that she has no hard feelings about being fired.
- 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 Unsmile: When Kuzco joins Yzma and Kronk for dinner, he asks Yzma if she has any hard feelings about being let go. Her "None whatsover" reply is made through severely clenched teeth and an incredibly forced smile.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Kuzco, who starts out as a total Jerkass.
- Viewers Are Morons: Kuzco's attitude when he's the narrator.
- Villain Protagonist: Kuzco, while arguably entertaining, is also major Jerkass 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 the diner, Pacha creates a distraction by telling the waitress that it's Yzma's birthday which prompts the diner staff to mob her table singing a non-copyrighted version of "Happy Birthday" giving Pacha and Kuzco time to slip away.
- Weak Boss, Strong Underlings:
- Kuzco is an eighteen-year-old Incan emperor who is very skinny and never has had to lift a finger to get what he wants. His castle guards, by contrast, are buff top-heavy guys carrying spears.
- Yzma, Kuzco's political advisor, has a minion of her own: Kronk. Yzma is an elderly, skinny Evil Genius. Kronk is a muscly young man who carries out all sorts of grunt labor for her, such as getting rid of a corpse and transporting her around in a backpack-like tent. When everyone thinks Kuzco is dead, she's named Incan empress and gets to order around the castle guards.
- 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.
- World-Weary Waitress: The Mudka's Meat Hut has a World Weary Waitress, Mata, that seems permanently bored, sighs as she repeats the welcoming routine to newcomers and doesn't bat an eye to the strange "woman" (Kuzco in disguise) that is with Pacha. When he unnecessarily tells her that they are on honeymoon, she just says "Bless you for coming out in public."
- You Have Failed Me: A vicious tongue-lashing as opposed to outright death.