The Emoji Movie movie review: A factory-made product oozing with sugar, and no real memorable taste
Director: Tony Leondis
The Emoji Movie is what you get when every single bad idea in the world is crammed into a single movie. If the title of the film made you wary of the quality, nothing can prepare you for the onslaught of mediocrity that the film offers you.
Much like The Lego Movie, Inside Out and Wreck it Ralph, The Emoji Movie is set in a world of sentient emojis being controlled by humans in the outside world. We follow Gene (TJ Miller), a ‘Meh’ emoji whose job is to only produce the ‘meh’ emotion but goes against the rules by wanting to emote differently. When the human phone user tries to send a ‘meh’ emoji to his crush, Gene screws up and renders the wrong expression, ending up being banished. Before he’s permanently deleted Gene is rescued by High 5, an emoji who was once popular but is no longer used. High 5 and Gene then embark on a journey to avoid being captured by the villainous leader of the community — a smiley emoji.
If all that seemed strangely irritating to you, that’s just the first act. The film quickly descends into ludicrous levels where all kinds of millennial brands like Dropbox and Candy Crush are used as actual plot points. When Spotify is ultimately used as a tool to save the world you know you’re watching something truly painful.
The problem with the film is that it doesn’t embrace the silliness of the plot, but forces loud music, an endless array of pop culture references, cringe inducingly unfunny jokes and even poop gags to your face. There’s just too much going on in every sequence, colorful frames quivering obscenely, like keys being dangled to a baby. There’s no artwork in the animation, it’s an assault on the senses where every scene has been configured to serve ADHD issues. And if you’re watching this in 3D, prepare to carry some Dramamine with you.
It’s not a very adventurous story either, not only because the hero is so unlikable, but his journey doesn’t really have any redeeming arc that would render an emotionally resonant message. Much like the character, his journey is quite ‘meh’. The triangle of an outcast hero, his weird and fat best buddy and a sassy badass girl teaming together to vanquish the super villain and save the day has been done so many times in other better animation films.
There’s some attempt to address stereotypes but it’s so ham fisted and surface level it’s difficult to credit the filmmakers for bringing up any thoughtful social commentary. It’s difficult to gauge if even kids will like this film because it feels so synthetic in nature — a factory made product oozing with sugar — but with no real memorable taste. It’s also not crazy enough to be appreciated by stoner adults looking for the next Boss Baby. This is a difficult recco and in fact the perfect description of this film can be rendered by an emoji on your phone — the one that’s brown in color. More worrisome is the fact that TJ Miller has left Silicon Valley to star in films like this one.