The Emperor’s New Groove

The Emperor’s New Groove
Rating: G
Run Time: 78 Minutes
Released: 2000
Director: Mark Dindal

Cultural Rating: pawpaw

Although The Emperor’s New Groove depicts a non-white, non-Western culture, the film does very little to engage with disability, sexual orientation, or gender.


After being turned into a llama, Emperor Kuzco seeks the help of courageous llama herder, Pacha, to regain the throne.


Language: poo

  • Demeaning language- “pathetic,” “shut up,” “piece of work,” “peasant,” “ungrateful little worm,” “dumb,” “tone deaf,” “ugly,” “stinky,” “selfish brat,” “stupid,” “scary beyond all reason,” “lousy,” “fool,” “big stupid monkey”
  • Threatening language- “Kuzco must be eliminated”


  • Slapstick humor
  • Visible weapons- dagger, spears, axe


  • Kissing
  • Mild sexual innuendo

Drugs and Alcohol:poopoo

  • Yzma tries to kill Kuzco by poisoning him.

Cultural Analysis



  • Kronk challenges traditional stereotypes regarding masculinity. For example, even though Kronk is physically “masculine” (tall, muscular, broad shoulders, strong jawline), he cries and is depicted as unintelligent. Additionally, Kronk is a skilled cook, which is considered a traditionally feminine activity.
  • Kuzco does not strictly adhere to traditional gender roles. Although Kuzco is coded as masculine, given his pronouns (him/he/his) and his voice (David Spade), he performs masculinity and femininity throughout the film. For example, in one scene Kuzco pretends to be a woman by doing drag and performing femininity.
  • Chicha (Pacha’s wife) is depicted as equal in status to Pacha as Chicha is depicted as intelligent and independent. In addition, the family functions as a unit, thus challenging the patriarchal family structure. For example, When Yzma tries to find Kuzco in the village, Chicha and the children work together to force her out of their house (without the help of Pacha).


  • The film depicts a non-white, non-Western culture that is regularly ignored in the media. As the theme song indicates, the film takes place somewhere in Mesoamerica (see talking points for more information).

Sexual Orientation: N/A

Disability: N/A


  • Pacha is fat-bodied and is depicted as a good character. For example, he is caring, funny, and regularly helps Kuzco. This is significant because oftentimes fat-bodied people are considered undesirable and immoral by the media.
  • Various body types are shown in the film.



  • At one point in the film, the male gaze is present as Kuzco judges women solely based on their appearances in order to find a bride. Kuzco is not interested in any of the women and dismisses them with insults (“hate your hair,” “you’re ugly”). While this kind of behavior is depicted as negative in the film, it is also used for comedic relief.


  • South American cultures are generalized in the film.

Sexual Orientation:

  • The majority of the characters appear to be heterosexual.
  • When Pacha tries to give Kuzco mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Kuzco mistakes it for a kiss. They react in a homophobic manner as they both spit and wipe their mouths, and Kuzco gargles soapy water.



  • In the film, Yzma is depicted as grotesque as a result of her old, exaggerated body. For example, Kuzco frequently makes negative comments about Yzma’s old body in which he criticizes her wrinkles and is frightened when she raises her skirt to reveal her leg. In addition, Yzma is depicted as an evil grotesque as she poisons Kuzco in the hopes of taking over his empire. This is important because old bodies are often considered ugly and undesirable in the media.

Suggested talking points

  • In the beginning of the film, Kuzco’s behavior adheres to capitalistic ideology. For example, when Kuzco finds out that Kuzcotopia (a personal retreat) would destroy Pacha’s village, Kuzco does not care and decides to plan to build it there anyway (individualism). By the end of the film, Kuzco challenges this way of thinking by agreeing not to destroy a village for his own gain.
  • While the film does generalize various civilizations and Latin American cultures, especially South American cultures, it can act as a starting point for learning more about these topics.

Keywords: Disney, animated, family, mesoamerica, latin america, capitalism, body, 2 paws, two paws, movie review, emperor’s new groove, music,

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