There’s only one emoji that could describe this distasteful attempt at a children’s film more than words ever could. You guessed it – the poop emoji.
Inside the smartphone of a young boy exists the digital city of Textopolis, where emojis are sentient, for some reason. The emojis live in harmony, content with their singular facial expressions, except for Gene (T.J. Miller), a “meh” emoji capable of expressing numerous different emotions. Finally given a chance in the spotlight to be the selected emoji sent, Gene panics and causes a multi-expressional emoji to appear on screen and make its user think his phone is broken. With viruses after him, Gene leaves the messenger app with Hi-5 (James Corden) and into the many other apps in search of Jailbreak (Anna Faris), a mysterious hacker who might have a code that can fix Gene before the phone memory is wiped and the emojis are erased from existence.
It’s time to confirm what you knew was inevitable from the moment it was announced – The Emoji Movie is bad. Presumably communicating purely in dollar sign emojis when they greenlit it, Sony Pictures – continuing their plummeting reputation as probably the worst major Hollywood studio currently operating – hits a new low with a truly shameless consumerist brainwashing disguised as a children’s film. It could very possibly be the worst widely released animated film of all time.
Last year’s The Angry Birds Movie was just inventive and entertaining enough to scrape by as passable excuse to cash in on a mobile app, but there are absolutely zero excuses here, since The Emoji Movie can barely manage even an iota of that creativity. Much of the problem is sheer laziness perpetuating every facet. The story brings to mind animations that have done similar things much better, like Wreck-It Ralph, The Lego Movie, and most of Pixar’s work (chiefly Inside Out and Monsters, Inc.); it doesn’t take long to work out that Emoji isn’t so much borrowing elements from these films but rather blatantly ripping them off.
The painfully unfunny “humour” consists entirely of cheap puns and so, so much name-brand dropping – get ready for an adventure in which the heroes much beat games of Candy Crush and Just Dance, ride music .wavs (get it?) across Spotify and make it to Dropbox so they can reach the Cloud. It’s not hard to see where the movie got its funding.
It’s no doubt an easy pay check for all of its voice actors; James Corden’s Hi-5 is especially irritating, though he’s just one bit of code in a grating algorithm. Every character is unlikable, has hazy motivations and continually raises questions, like why does one emoji have parents, and how are emojis able to reproduce? How and why would an emoji fall in love? Why do emojis need to be scanned everytime they’re used by the phone owner? Why… oh, who cares? They’re fuckin’ emojis. It’s probably a good thing we feel nothing for these creepily vivified deformities, because that would be deeply disturbing.
The ultimate message – which makes little sense in the context of the story – is some nonsense about being yourself and an individual; deeply ironic given the projectile vomit of product placement and the condemning depiction of every human character using only their devices to communicate with the people around them. You might want to think twice about taking your kids to this one; there’s a strong chance they’ll be bored.
The Emoji Movie is available in Australian cinemas from September 14
Image courtesy of Sony Pictures