By: BabyRuthCT (Five Beers) –
Have you heard? They made a movie about emojis! Emojis! This is it. The end is near!
It’s really not. Well, it possibly is, but not because of this movie.
Deep within every smartphone exists a city called Textopolis. This is where all the Emojis live. Yes, Emojis are walking, talking, breathing, shitting, living entities.
Each Emoji has exactly one job: to nail their single emotion when the phone’s owner selects them. There’s a big stage with cubes where each Emoji waits and when called upon they get scanned and that image appears on the phone. The non-working Emojis just kind of hang out and go about their everyday lives. Don’t think about it too much.
Gene Meh (T.J. Miller) is different than the other Emojis, Emoji? (I don’t know and I’m not going to bother looking it up). See, while all his peers are only capable of being their one emotion, all of the time, Gene has ALL of the emotions and just feels things way too much to be Meh. But he dreams of standing on that stage and being selected by Alex, the teenage owner of the smartphone.
Gene finally gets his big chance and, of course, screws it up immediately.
The perpetually happy leader of the Emojis, Smiler (Maya Rudolph) is very angry about this (but she can’t show it because she can only smile! Hilarious!) and labels Gene a “malfunction” that must be deleted by killer bots.
A better movie about killer bots.
Gene then goes on the run. On the run in the world of this movie means he exits Textopolis and wanders around the background of Alex’s phone, popping in and out of various apps (the ones whose creators paid to be featured in this movie). His plan is to find a hacker to reprogram him to be meh and rid him of all those other pesky emotions. Along for the ride is Hi-5 (James Corden), who is hoping for some help in regaining his popularity after being replaced by the hipper Fist Bump. He thinks the hacker or the Great Oz or somebody can program it or something, I don’t know. The hacker, named Jailbreak, turns out to be…(gasp!)…a woman (Anna Faris) and her dream is to escape to The Cloud via Dropbox. Yes, this is really the plot.
Patrick Stewart willingly (as far as we know) signed on to play the Poop Emoji and also was totally cool with his end credit of “And Sir Patrick Stewart as Poop.” I mean, if that doesn’t deserve a toast, I don’t know what does.
It was also an inspired casting decision to have Steven Wright play Gene’s father, Mel Meh.
The Emoji world-building was actually kind of clever and I laughed at an emoticon joke. (They are senior citizens in Textopolis and one of them exclaims “My colon!” Sue me.)
Which leads me to this:
Everybody needs to calm the hell down about how terrible this movie is.
Honestly, it’s not that bad. Yes, it’s a crappy, lazy, unfunny cash grab that I am in no way, shape, or form recommending, but it’s not the unspeakable atrocity many are making it out to be. It didn’t make me violently angry like Pixels did. It didn’t make me feel like I needed to spend a few supervised hours in a padded room like Movie 43 did. It’s not the worst movie ever made. It’s not even the worst animated movie ever made.
Trust me on this one. I re-watched Foodfight! the night before going to see The Emoji Movie to prepare myself and Emoji looks like Toy Story by comparison.
The mere announcement of this movie’s existence prompted outrage. It’s been universally hated and ridiculed since before the first trailer even dropped. I’d bet many critics already had their poop-emoji related insult-filled reviews half-written before sitting down to a screening. It’s an easy target, too easy. But it’s nowhere near the an equivalent experience is explosive diarrhea in a hot car with no a/c while stuck in an endless traffic jam reputation it’s been receiving.
And I’m kind of bummed about that. As mentioned earlier, I prepped for this movie by watching FoodFight! I was prepared. I was ready. I volunteered to review this movie, in fact, it was my number one pick because I had to see for myself just how putrid it was.
It’s bad but it’s not fun bad and it’s not soul-crushingly, catastrophically bad. It’s just the harmless, boring kind of bad.
The concept isn’t terrible. It’s no more ridiculous or more of a cash-grab than The LEGO Movie (from which it heavily borrows, along with other films). The difference, of course, is in the execution. And The Emoji Movie suffers from lazy, likely rushed writing. The jokes aren’t funny (For the record, the biggest laughs at the screening I attended were when Poop almost said the word “shit” and when that “Bubble Butt” song started playing).
Then there are annoying plot points that were clearly not thought out and just shoehorned in for a quick reference/joke. For instance, at one point, Gene encounters trolls—as if internet trolls are actual beings who exist within a phone and not the users themselves.
Also, Hi-5’s anatomy is confusing and often disturbing.
There are a few attempts to make some kind of statement on smartphone/social media culture but the movie is never brave enough to go all the way (for obvious reasons). Teens (in the “real world”) are shown glued to their devices, two even walk into each other. Hi-5 monologues about the importance of having “friends” but not actual friends. Okay, all good so far.
But then the takeaway messages of this movie are: Smartphones are great! Download all the apps we just showed you! Check out this cool new Emoji!!!
Likewise, there’s an effort at a feminism angle with the Jailbreak character that falls just about as flat.
The more you think about the world of this movie, the more morbid it gets. And kids are smart. They will think about it. I feel bad for the parents who are asked “What happens to Gene and all the other Emojis when Alex gets a new phone?” or “Is the Just Dance lady going to die at the end of the day?” (There is a trash section on the phone where deleted programs go and the movie tells us that at the end of the day they die if they are not recovered. Geez.)
The Emoji Movie is stupid, yeah, but not as horrible as you may have heard. Like its main character, it is simply meh.
The Emoji Movie (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever an emoji expresses an emotion they are incapable of showing
Take a Drink and Yell “CA-CHING!”: whenever an app is shown or named-checked.
Take a Drink: whenever anyone mentions “The Cloud”
Chug: during the Candy Crush scene
Take a Drink: whenever the movie rips off a better animated movie (Wreck It Ralph, Inside Out, The LEGO Movie, etc)
Take a Drink: for every weird movie reference no child will ever get (“Bye Felicia!” Really?)
Do a Shot: for every horrible pun
Do a Shot: for every poop joke
Do a Shot: when “And Sir Patrick Stewart as Poop” appears on the screen