The Emoji Movie (2017) Review
The Emoji Movie is directed by Tony Leondis (Igor, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch) and features the voices of T.J. Miller (Cloverfield, Deadpool), James Corden (Into the Woods, Gavin & Stacey), Anna Faris (Mom, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Sisters). "Gene, a multi-expressional emoji, sets out on a journey to become a normal emoji". Have the creative team managed to put together a convincing narrative surrounding emojis or is this one big corporate cash-grab?
The Emoji Movie really does start off abysmally, the first 30 minutes or so are incredibly hard to get through. Thankfully, the film picks up slightly towards the end but it's never amazing or even good for that matter. This is the most critically panned film of the year yet and I can see why. It's uber child-friendly and I really cannot see older audiences enjoying it. There's a handful of laughs but they are mostly comedic one-liners. Most of the 'bigger laughs' do not land. I can see what the film is going for but it just doesn't work.
The Emoji Movie's biggest weakness is its script - a script that has had 3 different pairs of hands all over it, and one of those belongs to the director. This is an incredible misfire for Tony Leondis- I would be surprised if he works again after the critical disaster that is The Emoji Movie. The story may just be one of the dumbest and most basic plots that has ever graced the silver screen. There are two simultaneous plots - 1. Alex sends the wrong emoji to a girl and his phone starts playing up so he goes to the shop to get it erased. 2. Gene fails at being a 'meh' emoji so is being hunted down. I don't think the writers could have come up with a more ridiculously silly and lazy plot. There's got to have been something slightly more intellectual and original that they could have done? I mean, I know this is a film about emojis but it would have been cool to see the film given the Inside Out meets Wreck-It Ralph treatment. Once you get past the painful first 30 minutes and start visiting other apps in Alex's phone, the film does add some fun to compliment the dumb. What makes the first 30 minutes so excruciating is that it's very dull. I didn't really care for the world the emojis lived in and I think a serious error was choosing 'Meh' as the lead. The 'Meh' jokes would have worked in small quantities but there are so many of them because he's the lead (he also has two 'Meh' parents) and they all fail to elicit even a giggle. There's nothing to like about 'meh'- an emotionless feeling. They may as well have picked the bored emoji.
So how could The Emoji Movie get better after such an excruciating first act? Well, it stopped taking itself so seriously and a load of IP's were inserted into the film. Even though most of the apps that are featured are admittedly 'old news', it was still amusing to see some familiar apps represented in the film and was interesting to see how they were utilised. I thought the Candy Crush segment was fun but looking back, there was no actual reason as to why it was featured in the film, it added nothing to the plot. Just Dance was probably the most outdated, who even has Just Dance on their phone? But the dancing and music kept the tone light and the pace fast. Spotify was probably the most well utlised, the 'sound waves' were a clever touch. However, what made no sense to me at all is that they could have just walked straight to DropBox, there was no actual need to go through all these apps, other than because the film was paid to do so. I can just imagine the pitch now. The characters would say that they ventured into the apps to hide from the BOTS but whenever they confronted the villainous robots, they easily defeated them anyway...and they found them in the apps they were meant to be hiding in. So even though featuring IPs was a fun touch, it really added nothing to the plot and just screamed cash-crab.
Is The Emoji Movie funny? As I've already mentioned, there are a few times where I laughed. There was a funny joke made about the appearance of the Just Dance dancer and there were many references to frequently used 'social terms' today. The Emoji Movie was definitely in tune with the trends of the internet and modern society. I liked the 'Internet troll' jokes and 'Spam' in particular. However, many of the other jokes were forgettable, unnecessarily crude and down-right unfunny.
The animation style may be one of the worst I've seen in a long time- it's very cheap looking. It actually came as a shock when the film first began as the quality was similar to what you would see on a children's television show not a major theatrical release. The weakness of the animation was exposed most when in 'human world'- these humans did not look good at all, the most basic CG I've seen in a while. The Emoji Movie is from Sony Pictures Animation and I have to say, even with their most successful franchise, Hotel Transylvania, animation is still not a strong point for them. I won't lie and say the film constantly looked awful- I liked the visuals when the characters were riding the sound waves and I thought Candy Crush land was suitably bright and colourful. I had an epiphany whilst watching The Emoji Movie- I think they should have took inspiration from 'The LEGO Movie' and had an animated main story but a live action sub-plot. The humans could have actually been human and then the emojis would have been in their cartoony, digital world. I think this would have worked extremely well and would have actually benefited the animation style as it would have come across as a deliberately overly cartoony emoji world.
The cast do the best they can with such a dire script. T.J. Miller is alright but with the blank, emotionless 'meh', there's not really anything interesting he could possibly do more. T.J. Miller is often hired because of his comedic ability but there's nothing funny about his character or performance. Miller is stuck in one of the most dullest roles he's ever been given. I really wasn't a fan of James Corden. I wasn't convinced by his performance and simply thought it was James Corden the whole time. It's hilarious to think that Patrick Stewart has landed a role in this film as the Poo emoji, how embarrassing. Luckily, Stewart has literally nothing to do and his involvement in this project should be forgotten quickly. Do you know who was the most impressive? Maya Rudolph has the villain, Smiler. She came across very evil and her performance was very eccentric and suited the role perfectly. Nobody in the entire cast makes much of an impression other than Rudolph but I also don't think Rudolph wants to be the only one remembered for being in The Emoji Movie.
Finally, before The Emoji Movie played, a Hotel Transylvania short 'Puppy!' came on. I am a big Selena Gomez fan and if I'm honest, the only reason I chose not to skip The Emoji Movie is because I wanted to see this Hotel Transylvania short film. Unfortunately, this is the worst thing to come out of the Hotel Transylvania films yet. All of the actors who returned were as good as always but the short had serious issues with its pacing and script. The short was very short and felt very rushed as it moved at a lightening speed pace. There wasn't really a story to it and I actually don't really understand why it was made. I kind of hope the 'Puppy' in this film miraculously disappears when the third Hotel Transylvania gets released as I don't want any callbacks to remind me of this short film disaster. I would still rather watch this again though than The Emoji Movie...(nothing down to it being just 5 minutes I promise ;) ).
The Emoji Movie is awful, to begin with. But thankfully the film becomes a tad more tolerable as it goes on, even if that's down to it using corporate IPs. This is still definitely one of the year's worst and really worries me that Hollywood thinks its ok to produce such unoriginal, lazy and uninspired content. There are more outrageous and intellectual routes The Emoji Movie could have gone down but instead a script was written about a worried boy because he sent the wrong emoji to his crush. The cast don't make much of an impression other than Miller being miscast and Rudolph being a wicked villain. The animation is poor and a little too TV-like for my liking. Hollywood! Get your act together, The Emoji Movie is an embarrassment to the modern film industry.