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Film Review – The Emoji Movie (2017)

The next marketing ploy disguised as a movie is here, The Emoji Movie!  Somehow, a script full of emojis got its very own movie and a prime release date during the middle of the summer.  Regardless, the film has handled a ton of scrutiny for its premise alone while dealing with the main question on everyone’s mind: why?  The following review will be spoiler free.

Synopsis

The Emoji Movie is directed by Anthony Leondis and contains surprisingly talented voice work from T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, and Maya Rudolph among many, many others.

We follow Gene (Miller), a “meh” emoji, that lives in Textopolis, the secret world inside of a smartphone of a teenage boy.  However, Gene has a problem: he has more than one emotion.  Unable to perform his duties as an emoji during the teenager’s texts, Gene puts the whole phone in danger as the boy makes an appointment to get his phone checked for problems.

Because of this issue, Smiler (Rudolph) sends an army of bots after Gene to eliminate him altogether.  All the while, Gene looks to solve his issue of having many emotions so that he can regain society.

Background

In an industry short on new ideas, we’ve amounted to a movie full of emojis.

Surprisingly, there was actually a bidding war to earn the distribution rights for The Emoji Movie.  Sony Pictures Animation threw in a hefty bid for the rights to the film, beating out both Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures.  It was later announced to the public at CinemaCon back in 2016 to a less than stellar response from crowds.

Was this movie ever necessary?  No matter how much director Anthony Leonidas has proclaimed his fondness for this story and his personal ties to it, The Emoji Movie seemed doomed for failure from the start of production.  Movies with seemingly cynical undertones have been revered in the past, such as The Lego Movie or Wreck-It Ralph, but getting your hopes up for a movie with talking poop just seems wrong.

What I Didn’t Like

As to be expected, The Emoji Movie is a marketing scheme disguised as a movie.

The large majority of the film takes place within the “world inside the user’s phone,” displaying different apps as their own worlds.  This idea sounds okay in theory, but there’s nothing inventive done with this premise.  Instead, each world that the emojis enter on their quest is mostly just an advertisement for these selected applications.

We go places like Candy Crush, Spotify, and Just Dance.  There’s possibly an attempt to try to weave these games into the storyline, but it’s just too obvious of a marketing ploy.  In the end, this movie feels like The Emoji Movie presented by Instagram.  Every so often, characters feel the need to duck into another world just to have some more product placement appear.

If that wasn’t bad enough, a bird that looks and sounds just like the Twitter logo swoops in like the eagles from The Lord of the Rings.  Moviegoers deserve to go to a film where the focus is on the plight of a character and not not-so-subliminal advertisements.

What I Didn’t Like…Continued

It’s very easy to rip on The Emoji Movie for its premise and world building alone.  Writing a review that is based solely on those factors, however, would be just as low brow as Patrick Stewart playing poop in a movie.  The real issue with The Emoji Movie is that it has awful messages for kids, the intended audience for the film.  Below are actual lines of dialogue from the film:

-“What should I say?  I have to reply to her text somehow!”

-“Nothing.  Words aren’t cool.”

Ahh, what a perfect realization of how actually people act.

But really, there are moments sprinkled throughout this film such as the one above that almost beg the viewer to takeaway themes like “oral communication is pointless” or “do your best to fit in with the crowd.”  Who in their right mind would be okay with those types of messages?

There’s no heart to The Emoji Movie.  There’s nothing about these characters that makes you feel attached to them or become invested in their stories.  Is it too much to ask that I care about a single character?

It also doesn’t help when the pacing of the film is as slow as an elderly human being running a marathon, but I digress…

What I Didn’t Like…Continued…Continued

There are movies that are simply just boring and those that are insultingly annoying.  The Emoji Movie falls into that latter category.

As with any animated film these days, there is a sidekick that acts as the comedic relief.  In this instance, it’s the Hi-5 emoji played by James Corden.  It’s a fair assumption that Corden (and other talented voice actors) were paid handsomely for their work on the film, so their involvement can’t really be chastised.  In most cases, Corden is a very funny man whom many people enjoy.  Unfortunately, Corden had some seriously bad dialogue to handle here.

As if the movie wasn’t already bad enough to get on your nerves, every joke Hi-5 spouts had this critic sighing with more and more displeasure with each passing joke.  To make matters worse, the film believes Hi-5’s behaviors to be hilarious.  The result is an unrelenting barrage of dimwitted jokes told with high-pitched shrieks and undeserved arrogance.

In the end, the Emoji Movie thinks we’re all idiots that will laugh when keys are jingled in front of our faces.

Conclusion

As mentioned above, it’s easy to blindy give this movie an awful grade based purely on its horrible premise.  However, The Emoji Movie is truly a bad movie.  From terrible messages for kids to blatant product placement, there’s nothing here of substance.  It gets an F.  The movie is a shade under an hour and a half, but it feels like an eternity.  Hollywood: stop with these nonsensical movie ideas.  You can do much, much better.

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Thanks for reading!  What re your thoughts on The Emoji Movie?  Comment down below!

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Nick Kush

A current college student, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society.

32 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I knew it would be bad because it was Apple emojis they modeled them off of. Besides that, I hated how bland the animation was, the humor was terrible, and they ruined a pretty interesting concept for a kids movie.

    I’m glad you mentioned the actual content of the film, and not just talk about what others have been complaining about.

    The movie was so bad, I included it in my bad movies blog and tried to find a silver lining to it. You can check it out here : https://onesilverliningblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/%E2%9C%94%EF%B8%8F-the-emoji-movie-dont-%F0%9F%92%A9-on-it/

  2. Enjoyable read but I totally disagree. This film does not deserve universal panning. It is a satire on modern communications; not brillaint but still raises lots of interesting questions. Decades from now it will be dug up and studied as a whimsical cultural artefact that portrays the imagined relationship between humanity and digital communication. Researchers will ask why hieroglyphics returned as a universal language and why humans came to rely on homogenised icons to convey meaning.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I’m sorry but that’s just not gonna happen. There’s really no satire here to speak of, just lazy screenwriting

  3. Glad I didn’t take my son to see this. What a shame

  4. macbick says:

    I have children and I had never even planned on trying to see this one. You have affirmed the sneaking suspicions I had since I first heard about this…thing and now I definitely won’t be going to see it, renting it or setting my dvr to record it. It was the poop emoji that first turned me off to the idea. I’ve been very critical of poop even when it was just a lowly excretion. It never should’ve become part of our communications and, now, our entertainment. Flush that emoji!

  5. Thanks for taking time away from writing movie reviews to visit my blog!

  6. cadepb says:

    You know, I figured this was going to be a piece of shit, but I didn’t expect it to be THIS bad. I’ll just take one back for myself and watch “Atomic Blonde” instead.

  7. Yep. This movie was garbage.

  8. shahzodav says:

    I thought the previews were actually kind of funny (don’t judge me). Too bad the movie didn’t deliver. Thanks for another entertaining review 🙂

  9. Mandy says:

    Thanks for the review, it cements my decision to not go and see it. Even my five year old showed no interest.

  10. Good Lord, that movie sounds dreadful.

  11. MoJo says:

    Sounds like you loved this one! Thank goodness because I was having the worst time deciding what to buy you for Christmas. (Note to self – preorder Emoji Movie combo DVD/Blu-Ray/E-format now!)

  12. daisymae2017 says:

    Sounds like it’s not worth the money. The previews didn’t even look good. Thanks for your honest review.

  13. This movie was sponsored by Waste Management…because it was straight trash

  14. Arline says:

    I don’t have any plans of watching this, but seems like an amusing movie to review/rant about.

  15. Well, this is a movie that I don’t wanna give any money towards, so I’m not seeing it in theaters. But all these reviews seem to confirm my suspicions.

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