The Emoji Movie review: Waste of a great idea

If you’re just going Meh and not reaching for the Turd three times over, TJ Miller, Anna Faris and the guys at the studio will be hi5ing you all night long.

Published: 12th August 2017 07:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2017 07:56 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Film: The emoji movie

Director: Tony Leondis

Cast: T J Miller, Anna Faris, Jennifer Coolidge

The Emoji Movie had me all excited for exactly two reasons: first, I love the turd and meh emojis, and second, it stars the voice and weird emoji-mannerisms of TJ Miller. As the movie unfurls across its 94 minute runtime, there’s plenty of both. But even that isn’t enough to cover the fact that this is an average movie that even kids would find difficult to enjoy. The goo-goo ga-ga kind of kids, not the tweens, even.

Here’s the low down. The emojis live in a school kid’s phone. Every emoji is constrained to look and feel the way they’re made—think hi5, turd, turkey princess, you get the drift—in Textopolis. When the user keys in an emoji, a giant scanner zooms in on a grid and scans the face of the emoji, transmitting it to the receiver’s phone. Emoji emotes, message sent, mission accomplished.

Except, Gene, who was born to a couple of ‘Meh’s’ (possibly in the month of May), wants to go rogue and flash every emoji expression in the book. He’s a rebel. One wrong emoji flash and he’s kicked off the grid to wander around town, as an emoji who’s possibly never going to get back to the favourites ‘it list’. That’s when he bumps into Hi5, who’s, well, a hand, and a hacker emoji who’s actually the original Princess emoji, replaced and bumped down when updates appeared. Their new mission? Get to Dropbox so that they can reach the cloud and be free of the phone for posterity.

Sound familiar? It did to me. Like only every other animated film from The Lego Movie to The Smurfs to possibly the next Batman v Superman movie. Self-discovery, I think they call the genre. Once the plot falls into place, you realise quickly that there’s not much more to the movie and you know what’s coming from a mile away. In a lot of ways, it seems like they stumbled on to a good idea, a great idea actually, because there’s a strong connect that all of us have with our emojis and we all decidedly exhibit an emoji pattern.

But this is one of those times when a few good gags and a few nice sequence—like an app dance-off with a dancing bot voiced by Christina Aguilera or a colourful wave representation of music inside a phone, on which our two lead emojis take an almost romantic gondola ride—can’t really make sense as a movie. It’s the sum of the parts argument, really. It just doesn’t add up.

In the end, if you’re just going Meh and not reaching for the Turd three times over, TJ Miller, Anna Faris and the guys at the studio will be hi5ing you all night long.


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