I don’t think there has ever been an animated film that caused as much internet uproar since its announcement as The Emoji Movie. To many, including myself, it seemed like the ultimate attempt by a Hollywood studio to cash in on intellectual property without a compelling idea or reason to exist. However, as we got closer to its release date, there was a side of me that started to root for the film. What can I say? I guess I love an underdog. So how did The Emoji Movie turn out?
Unfortunately, it’s not a strong film. It’s not the worst movie ever like the RottenTomatoes score might lead you to believe, but it is pretty flimsy stuff.
Let’s talk about some of the positives. The biggest plus is that the animation is bright, colorful, and up to par with what you expect for a CG big studio film. The worldbuilding design of the app and Textopolis clearly was carefully done with a lot of thought going into it.
Also, the voice cast is large and fine. I particularly liked Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge as Mr. and Mrs Meh. The story they were in was lame but the actors did a good job.
Now, on to the negatives. The biggest problem with The Emoji Movie is that it is incredibly derivative of many other films. Just to give you a sampling of films it borrows from or is similar to: Inside Out, Minions, Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia, The Lego Movie, A Bug’s Life, Sausage Party, Trolls, Angry Birds Movie, Sing, Secret Life of Pets, Toy Story… You get the idea.
Sometimes, I don’t mind a derivative story. I’m a big defender of The Good Dinosaur and many find that derivative. In that case, the film has so much to offer in beauty and emotion that I didn’t mind familiar story points. In The Emoji Movie there really isn’t much to offer. For instance, all would be solved if it was funny but it’s not. I chuckled a few times but it was not nearly enough to save the movie.
Even a bizarre idea like Sir Patrick Stewart as the Poop Emoji doesn’t score many laughs (he’s hardly in the movie, maybe 3 jokes).
The rest feels very played out. Gene and his journey to find out his emotion isn’t compelling. His sidekicks High Five and Jailbreak are either boring or annoying. The adventures in the apps feel inconsequential and tawdry with their overt product placement. Perhaps small kids will be engaged but adults will find it pretty tedious.
There is a plot with Mr and Mrs Meh that did nothing for me, and the interactions with the phone owner Alex felt disingenuous to how teens behave. In Inside Out, the environment actually moves and flows as all the characters interact with it (the Islands of Personality crumbling for example). The Emoji Movie apps felt more like stops on an obstacle course that they could have easily walked around instead of entering. The villain is also very annoying.
In the end, there is no reason to give your money to The Emoji Movie. If you are dying of curiosity, wait and see it on DVD. There’s nothing offensive about it and some small kids may enjoy it but with so many good options available right now like Captain Underpants, Spider-man Homecoming, and Cars 3, this deserves a definite skip.
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden