"The Emperor's New Groove" still stands out as one of my favorite animated features from the past several years. Despite not being quite the hit that Disney hoped upon release in 2000, "Groove" has become something of a cult hit on video. The feature has its own unique style of humor, and comedic timing that's absolutely exceptional. The film's cast (including David Spade, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton and John Goodman) was perfect, and played off one another memorably.
"Kronk's New Groove", a direct-to-video feature that follows former evil sidekick Kronk (Warburton), does not live up to the original, but it's not without a few minor charms. The film opens with Kronk working at the diner seen briefly in the original film, and trying to make a life for himself that will live up to the expectations of his soon-to-be-visiting father (voiced by John Mahoney). There's also a subplot about evil witch Yzma (Kitt) returning to get Kronk's help selling a youth potion and another bit about Kronk leading a group of Chipmunk campers against a competing troop lead by Ms. Birdwell (Tracey Ullman).
Warburton's role as Kronk is a minor classic, as the actor has succeeded in creating a character who means well, but is happily dim. The actor's precise timing makes even the lesser jokes work moderately well and some of the better jokes (Kronk's shoulder angels return) snappier. It's definitely a help in this case, as "Kronk's New Groove" is noticably thinner material, and proceeds to make matters worse by trying to cover multiple stories in the span of a bit over an hour.
The script comes up with some funny moments, but the majority of the feature has the very talented actors doing their best to try and mine laughs out of the material. They're working for the material instead of having the material work for them, in other words. Although the original voice cast (the Spade and Goodman characters have cameos) has been brought back (and has added some high-profile names not included in the original in Ullman and Mahoney), none of the main filmmakers from the original have returned.
VIDEO: "Kronk's New Groove" is presented by Disney in the show's original 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although the animation quality is not up to that of the original feature, this transfer presents it quite well. Sharpness and detail remain consistently superb throughout the show and the animation looks about as crisp and clear as it appears it possibly can.
The only real concern here was the presence of some very slight shimmer and a couple of very slight artifacts in a couple of scenes. These issues were hardly noticable, and the majority of the movie looked terrific. Colors remained bright and vivid, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The film is offered with both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 options. There were hardly any differences between the two soundtrack options, as both presented the fairly ordinary sound mix with fine quality. A mostly dialogue-driven comedy, the surrounds kicked in only infrequently, such as during the musical numbers. Audio quality was fine, as dialogue, music and the occasional sound effects seemed crisp and well-recorded.
EXTRAS: A brief "making of", an interactive game and previews for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: "Kronk's New Groove" seems targeted completely towards kids, and doesn't hit the comedy heights that the original did. Still, it provided a few laughs and Warburton's performance creates laughs even when the jokes aren't great. Disney's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality, but not much in the way of supplements. May be a worthwhile rental for those interested. Those who haven't seen the original should definitely check that out first.