“The Emoji Movie” stars T. J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Jake T. Austin, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara, and Patrick Stewart. Released on July 28, 2017, the film is about a multi-expressional emoji who sets out to become a normal meh emoji.
The film is directed by Tony Leondis, who also directed Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch and Igor. He also served as a story artist for films such as The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, and Home on the Range. No one really thought that Hollywood will go that far into making a movie that involves emojis, let alone an animated film from Sony, but considering how strange and franchise-obsessed their film ideas are, this one should make a lot of sense. I remember back when the film was first announced, it was bombarded with a lot of negative comments, claiming that “Hollywood has run out of ideas” or something like that. I also remember that the marketing for this film has a lot more dislikes than likes on Youtube, with people criticizing it right before the final cut was released. Seriously, why do they always judge a film based on the marketing alone? To answer my own question, it’s clearly another bad case of people having negativity in their brains. I really don’t mind the idea of a movie based around those small symbols that cell phone users use to express their emotions, just as long as it has something that the adults can enjoy as well as kids. Now that I experienced this strange new cell phone world for the first time, is it really as terrible as people suggested?
If you watched some of the trailers for this film, you would already figure out what you’re getting yourself into. The main story takes place in a digital city inside a phone known as Textopolis, where the entire population is filled with…you guessed it, emojis. Emojis who share one personality based on their form. All of them except for Gene, voiced by T.J. Miller, who can apparently share more than one emotion, much to the dismay of his meh emoji parents and the leader of the text center, Smiler, voiced by Rudolph. To make things a bit more “interesting”, the side-plot of the film reflects on the user of the cell phone world that Gene lives, a human teenager named Alex (Austin). The amount of screen time for the side-plot is really short compared to the main plot, but it does manage to serve a purpose instead of being nothing but filler. Sony Pictures Animation hasn’t been too good with telling strong and breathtaking stories that’ll impress both kids and adults alike. All they have been doing so far is making feature-length cartoons for the little ones to enjoy while their parents will just go with the flow. This film is, unsurprisingly, no different. This is a very simplistic tale about expressing your differences and staying true to who you are. Get it? Because the movie is about emojis and they “express” emotions? I think a lot of kids who are different than everybody else can relate to both the film’s message and Gene, and I appreciate it for making the story easier for them to follow along. However, they did manage to make it a bit too easy for the adults. The film definitely had a lot of predictable plot points that I can see coming from a mile away, which can be nuisance to those who wanted a few extra surprises in this troublesome and mediocre plot. If you really don’t mind about its overused plot and just wanted to see it for the message alone, then you should be fine with this one. The voice cast delivered some decent performances to their characters, including Miller as Gene. James Corden as Hi-5 wasn’t exactly the best comic relief that the film had to offer, but he had some tolerable moments that I enjoyed. Anna Faris was also decent as Jailbreak, and Maya Rudolph as Smiler…well, they made a good choice, but her character's motives are cliched. Plus, her smile creeps me out a little. No wonder her name was Smiler. Another thing that I would like to give this film credit for is the animation. While not as immersive or stylish as the other great animated films, the film did its part in creating a colorful and creative world inside a person’s cell phone, and in my opinion, it did its part just fine. The Candy Crush world and the Just Dance world are two of the main things that I liked the most in terms of the animation. I don’t know why, I just like to play Candy Crush during my spare time. The humor in the film was a hit and miss for me. It features a huge ton of jokes that relate to social media and some of the emoji characters, including the poop emoji, who is voiced by Patrick Stewart. If you’re the type of person who is familiar with the functions on the cell phone, you’re going to get the jokes that it offered. While I did find some of them funny, the rest of them didn’t really stick to me that often, and the poop emoji is just there for the poop jokes and nothing else. I also think that the development between the characters, especially Gene, Hi-5, and Jailbreak, felt a bit rushed and poorly-written. If they take the time to fully flesh out the characters a bit more, then I would’ve been able to care more about them, but that’s just me.
Overall, “The Emoji Movie” is pretty much like a meh emoji. It’s just…meh. A lot of kids might enjoy this latest outing from Sony Pictures Animation due to its colorful and creative animation and its relatable message. As a mature and respectable critic, I would say that this film is tolerable for what it is, but it does represent a lower point in Sony’s animated library in terms of its predictable story and character development. To be completely honest, after watching it for myself, I keep asking myself, “What were these people thinking when they reviewed it themselves?” It’s fine that they don’t like the film since it’s not for everybody, but in terms of how they reacted towards the film, it just goes to show that their overabundance of negativity can ruin their movie-going experience for themselves, not just the movie itself. But, that’s just my perspective. If you’re interested in seeing it despite its flaws, then go ahead and see it. As for everybody else, well, I would say it’s worth watching once on television.