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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Learn from your mistakes. People can change for the better.
Positive Role Models
Kuzco starts out extremely spoiled -- so much so that he's fed, dressed, and catered to by everyone around him. But he eventually sees the error of his ways. Pacha believes that all people have some shred of goodness inside of them, so he doesn't give up on Kuzco, even when Kuzco treats him shabbily.
None of the film's voice actors are Latino, despite the story being set in the Inca empire. The film has Peruvian costumes and animals, but nothing is faithful to the traditions of the Indigenous peoples of the region. (The songs, composed by Sting, have Caribbean arrangements, and at one point characters are seen dancing in the style of Celtic folk music.) Female characters are represented both positively and negatively: Men regard Yzma's wrinkles and body as "scary beyond all reason," but Pacha's pregnant wife is capable and independent.
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Violence & Scariness
Though most of the violence is comic, slapstick violence, Yzma does try to kill Kuzco more than once, and she's not shy about saying: "I will KILL you!" Perilous falls and dark jungle scenes might be frightening for younger viewers.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kuzco is told to pick a wife from a line of beautiful ladies, all of whom he insults. Yzma exposes her leg (played for comedy; onlookers, who constantly bash her appearance, react in horror).
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Bullying language like "shut up," "I hate you," "I'm going to kill you."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Emperor's New Groove follows a young and self-centered emperor of an Incan kingdom, but don't expect an accurate or respectful portrayal of Incan culture (what is now Peru). There are some scary moments, including a creepy jungle scene that takes place at night. Most of the peril is comic, but it still might be too much for younger kids. And it's worth noting that the sarcastic tone that makes the main character so hilarious could be contagious for young fans. In the end, though, the movie is about a selfish person who sees the error of his ways and reforms, which is a positive takeaway. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Fast, fun, and funny, this film deserves to be taken out of the rarified category of "animation" and called what it is: a cartoon. The Emperor's New Groove has more in common with classic Warner Brothers toons like Bugs Bunny and Road Runner than with Disney animation classics. That said, it's important to note that while the film offers a story inspired by Inca culture, it's not a faithful historical representation. There are anachronisms, such as a restaurant on the road and a fantastic vision of the emperor's palace.
Unlike other animated adventures, this story has no perky heroine singing about her dreams, no adorable animal sidekicks, no soulful romantic duet. In fact, there's no love interest at all. It's pure nonstop action and comedy, with a kind of freewheeling, even improvisational tone that's refreshing to watch. The movie even spoofs itself, along with other movies from The Fly to The Wizard of Oz.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.