Review: The Emoji Movie

The Emoji Movie
3 10

PLOT: A "meh" emoji goes on a journey of self-discovery after being labeled an outcast by his fellow emojis.

REVIEW: "Well, we've announced we're making an Emoji Movie, now what the hell do we do?!"

I can imagine this conversation happening in the writers room of THE EMOJI MOVIE, which is a thoroughly cynical and vapid effort to cash in on... what, emojis and phones, I guess. If ever there was an animated movie that 100% had no reason to exist, it's this one. It's colorful, yes, and has the kind of on-the-nose humor kids under 10 might guffaw at, but anyone over that age will likely find this a candy-coated chore to sit through.

A measure of the film's wit is that it takes place inside the world of "Textopolis," which is actually within the smart phone of teenager Alex, who's primary problem throughout the entire film is figuring out what emoji to send to the girl of his dreams. The conceit here is that the emojis all have personalities that reflect their exteriors, and every day they gather inside a large auditorium and wait for Alex to choose them for one of his so-important texts. (I'm getting angry just typing this.) Gene, a "meh" emoji (T.J. Miller), has a secret, though: he's got a variety of emotions and feelings, which makes him the "divergent" of this society, if you will. When finally called upon to be in one of Alex's texts, he blows it with a bevy of garbled faces, which earns him shunning from the community.

Gene then embarks on a quest through Alex's phone to set things right in a set-up that feels like a really, really poorly thought-out knockoff of INSIDE OUT. He is eventually joined by the High-5 emoji (James Corden) and a hacker called Jailbreak (Anna Faris). Gene wants to reprogram himself to get the "meh" look just right, but along the way he'll learn it's okay to be different, etc., etc. I suppose an animated film can have just about anything as a protagonist, but it's awfully hard for me to care about an emoji with an identity crisis, especially when it's in a movie that feels like the longest possible commercial for smart phones (let's just namedrop Spotify, the Cloud and a variety of apps at every opportunity).

Laughs are practically nonexistent, with seemingly every punchline involving a pun of some sort. There is next to zero chance you'll actually be swept up in this emoji world, which is far from vivid, and the plight of an emoji isn't exactly worth the 87 minutes this film runs. (Not to mention the fact that the human protagonist's issue of "what emoji do I text the cute girl" is about as inconsequential as it gets.)

What are the stakes here? What's being taught? The movie has almost no lesson to impart other than "just be yourself," which is the oldest trick in the animated movie book - plus, in the context of this world, it doesn't even make sense. So emojis on Alex's phone can now do whatever they want? And that means what for his future texts?!

To be sure, THE EMOJI MOVIE feels like its sole purpose is to be a babysitter. The creators want you to plop your kid in front of it while you do something else for an hour and a half, and everybody wins because the kid will eventually get distracted by something else (like a phone). It's made by people who don't really care what you think of it, just as long as you throw some money in its direction. It's on autopilot from the first minute, and I assume - I hope - that most children will see right through it.

Source: JoBlo.com



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