Monday, July 2, 2012

#40: A Spitting (Llama) Image

(c) Disney
The Emperor's New Groove, 2000
watched June 23, 2012

You may be surprised to learn that I don't really care for this movie.

Most people I've talked to who are not Disney fans like I am, tell me that they actually enjoy Emperor's New Groove, that it's one of their favorites. It makes sense. Both self-referential and satirical, the film has a sort of breaking-down-the-fourth-wall tone, not often seen in Disney's work. Thus, those who don't typically like Disney movies will probably enjoy Groove.

One of the primary reasons I'm not a huge fan of the film is its main character, Emperor Kuzco. He's unlike the brave, honest and selfless heroes and heroines typically featured in Disney films. In fact, he's pretty much the opposite. He's so unlikable that it's funny. Well, it's supposed to be.

And I know--that's the point of the whole movie. And for the most part, I do laugh and enjoy myself when I watch it. But I have a really hard time getting behind a main character who thinks the universe revolves around him, that he can do whatever he wants at the expense of other people, that whenever something bad happens it's obviously someone else's fault.

But I also get annoyed with Pacha, the good-natured peasant who goes out of his way to help Kuzco after he's been turned into a llama. I don't understand why he's so determined to find some good in Kuzco, even after he's manipulated and lied to Pacha. There's no good reason why he should do anything for him, especially when returning him to the palace means that Kuzco will move forward with plans to destroy his home.

But here's where I realize the truth about this film. Kuzco is so unlikable because he reminds me of someone I know a little too well.


Looking at that ugly, whiny, annoying llama is like looking into a mirror. I see a self-centered, uncaring, heartless person who thinks their own problems are the biggest deal ever. I see someone who promises to be better, to help others, to use their power for good, and yet never actually does it. While I may not go around flaunting my fabulousness as Kuzco does, I can be just as prideful.

That's when the film isn't so funny anymore.

When I look at Pacha, whose unrelenting goodness I still can't comprehend, I see someone who is foolishly loyal to one who totally doesn't deserve it. It makes no sense whatsoever.

And then I realize. That's the Gospel. When I see it through this llama-shaped mirror, the ridiculousness of it all becomes apparent. Why would anyone risk their life to save such a pathetic, unlikable, annoying character?

But Someone did do that for me. When I, the unlovable empress of my own world, was lost, alone, and at the edge of the cliff, Someone rescued me and brought me home. Even when I lied to him and gave him empty promises, He loved me. And ultimately, He transformed me back to the person I was created to be. 

Perhaps the Gospel is foolish, ridiculous, and unbelievable. But I'm so thankful it's true.

Otherwise, I'd still be stuck as a llama.

1 comment:

  1. Granted that I'm not nearly as well versed in Disney as some people, but I can't think of another Disney film where you see a happy, healthy two parent family...or a pregnant lady.