(This review DOES contain SPOILERS about the film.)
Some info about the movie prior to the review:
Release: July 28, 2017
Director: Tony Leondis
Box office: 159.5 million USD
Budget: 50 million USD
Production: Sony Pictures Animation
While others spent their weekend donating relief supplies for the upcoming Hurricane Irma or spending time with loved ones, I decided to sit down and re watch The Emoji Movie. Frankly, I didn’t believe beforehand that the film genuinely deserved the six percent it scored on Rotten Tomatoes. But, after viewing it myself I can’t say the given score is wrong. I originally went to go see the film opening night with two friends, only to discover that we were the only ones in the theatre. The fact that the film has made approximately $160 million in the box office since its debut earlier this year is baffling.
First off, the plot is about what you’d expect from a film called The Emoji Movie. The setting of the film is inside of Alex’s phone, a teenage boy attempting to ask his crush, Addie, to the dance. Inside of the phone are the emojis themselves, living in “Textopolis”, the bustling city which houses every emoji.
“Gene” is the main character of the film, an outcast emoji who can express multiple emotions. Gene sets off outside Textopolis with hopes of becoming a ‘normal emoji,’ trying to not become a social outcast, and resetting himself to a “meh” emoji. Along the way, he meets “Jailbreak” and “Hi-5”, two other emojis that wish to escape with him. Jailbreak introduces the idea of escaping to “The Cloud,” where they won’t have to face the conflict of being erased from the phone. The three characters attempt to escape while the antagonist, “Smiler,” attempts to hunt them down and delete them. The film ends as you’d predict– Smiler is defeated, Gene is no longer a social outcast, and Alex dates the girl.
The plot of the movie is bland and unoriginal. There’s no character development among any of the characters and every “surprising” element in the movie is extremely predictable. There’s also an excessive amount of unnecessary plot elements, such as an eventual breakup between Gene’s parents that appears to be extremely forced and has no real connection with anything else in the plot. Every attempt at comedy in the movie is a poorly timed pun, as well as multiple instances of characters saying the word “hashtag” out loud. There’s also a handful of poorly timed and forced “strong, independent female” moments from Jailbreak. Don’t get me wrong, I, 100 percent support the message Sony is trying to convey, but the way it’s incorporated into the film is just odd and awkward.
The plot isn’t even the worst part of the movie. The worst part of the film, undoubtedly, is the advertising. There’s advertisements for Spotify, Candy Crush, Twitter, Dropbox, Just Dance, and other brands that are consistent throughout the film. There is a ten minute scene where the movie explains how to play Candy Crush. There are no elements of humor in the scene, just the incorporation of the main characters in a tutorial for Candy Crush. The Cloud (Dropbox) is the destination they’re attempting to go to. If you’re going to advertise, don’t make it as obvious as blatantly stating that “Dropbox doesn’t have any viruses,” which is a genuine line from the film. There’s a three minute scene of “streaming down Spotify,” a two-minute scene of the main characters riding on the Twitter bird, and about a fourth of the movie dedicated to Just Dance. I’ve seen subtle advertisements incorporated into other films, but the amount of paid promotion in this movie is unnecessary.
If I had to say one good thing about the film, the animation job of the movie was done very well. Despite every character being portrayed as an emoji, they appeared to be distinct and visually different. I found “Hi-5’s” hand animations (i.e. thumbs up) to be fairly clever. My condolences to the poor animators that spent time on the film, only to have it result in a complete abomination.
I evidently might not be the target audience for the film. It’s made back-over three times its initial budget in the box office, and it’s doing fairly well advertising and selling merchandise. If you’re personally considering seeing the film, unironically or ironically: don’t. It’s a waste of time and doesn’t deserve any more money than it’s already raked in. I considered getting up and walking out of the theatre multiple times during the film because of how stale and bland it was. The Emoji Movie was an inevitable mistake from the moment it was announced from Sony, and I hope that Hollywood can learn from this mistake and never make anything like this atrocity again.