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(If you haven't seen the movie continuing could ruin it for you)
The movie starts out with Kuzco, a young pompous and egotistical emperor of a jungle empire. In the opening number his groove is thrown off (hence the title of the movie) when a peasant gets in the way of his dancing. The poor peasant is unceremoniously tossed out the window! Afterwards Kuzco discovers his advisor, Yzma, is giving orders without his authority. This has not been the first time. She is fired on the spot. In the meantime Pacha, a kindly chief of a mountain village within the kingdom appears before the emperor. He is informed that his house will be demolished so Kuzcotopia (a summer residence for the emperor) can be built in its place. Needless to say Pacha is devastated but powerless to stop him, he is sent home with his head hung low. Afterwards Yzma and her assistant, Kronk, plot how she can get her job back and keep her posh easy life. They discover it is quite simple: Only they and the emperor know of the dismissal, if they eliminate Kuzco she not only can keep her job but now will become empress (Kuzco has no family) They device a plan to invite the emperor to dinner that night to show there are no hard feelings. The plan is to poison his drink. Kronk slips the poison into the drink and Kuzco downs it. But instead of dying he is turned into a llama! As it turns out, the vile contains a potion to turn people into llama instead of poison. Yzma is infuriated! The llama is knocked out cold (still not realizing the change has been made) and Kronk is ordered to take him out and finish the job. The servant tries to follow orders but while carrying the unconscious emperor down the stair (in a bag) he trips and the llama ends in the back of Pacha's cart. The chief heads for home not realizing his new cargo. Once home the llama awakes and realizes what he has become, he demands that he be taken back to his palace so he can order Yzma to use her secret lab to turn him back into a human (he does not realize she is the one who did this to him in the first place) Pacha refuses to help unless Kuzco agrees to build Kuzcotopia somewhere else. The llama refuses and sets off to the palace on his own. Reluctantly, Pacha tags along to protect his emperor. The rest of the story are the adventures of Kuzco and Pacha's journey.
This sounds like a riches to rag story but the movie is more than that. It is about friendship, courage and self examination. Plus a lot more. It isn't until Kuzco has been turned into a llama that he learns he is not the loved and worshiped leader he thought he was (his followers easily follow Yzma) and he is quickly forgotten. It is also about loyalty and keeping your word. Pacha keeps his promise of leading the emperor back to his palace knowing very well that as soon as he is turned back to a human he will order the chief's house leveled to the ground displacing his family so Kuzcotopia can be build. I also like the twist of how the hero starts out not really as a hero, he only thinks of himself and his needs but by the end he learns that his world goes beyond himself. On the same token I like how the villain, Yzma, is not truly a villain at all. Her motivation is first to save her job but once she sees she can become empress she lets nothing stand in her way. I also liked how Kronk may not be the brightest character but he was by no means stupid, a very nice balance. Pacha also shined through, he was the anchor and family man showing us how staying loyal and true can pay off to the end. The balance of the songs of the film was a breath of fresh air as well. Rather than turning this into a musical where everyone stops to sing a song they were placed logically so not to disrupt the story. But what I really like is how you were pulled into the story, how the characters talked and interacted with you. The humor was top notch and the action was fantastic. Not till the very end I did not know how this film was going to end. All in all it was a great movie for both young and old. A definite must see! But don't take my word for it, check out these reviews:
Christian Spotlight on the Movies
Mr. Showbiz Movie Guide
Movie Reviews Colossus Net