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The Emoji Movie – Movie Review

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The Emoji Movie – Movie Review

Rating: D+ (Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Sony Pictures

When The Emoji Movie was announced, the reaction consisted primarily of ridicule. The saddest part about watching The Emoji Movie is imagining how this idea could have potentially worked. Director/co-writer Tony Leondis certainly dives head first into trying to create a believable world and Sony Pictures have paid top dollar to feature the biggest app brands in the film. The problem is the characters we’re meant to follow lack any sort of element that would attach an audience to them. It’s understandable why the Meh Emoji is the lead protagonist, but he doesn’t make for somebody worth following. Even the Poop Emoji, voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart, can’t even provoke simple third grade giggles.

For a character whose central conflict is his wide array of emotions, Gene lacks any sort of distinct personality and that makes him a dull protagonist. His “love interest” Jailbreak isn’t much better, merely being written as a girl Emoji…and not much else. The romance that blossoms comes without any proper development and simply because the two Emojis have different genders. These two are certainly tolerable compared to the High-Five Emoji, who is merely a narcissist and one wonders why he is even allowed to tag along. He’s more of an antagonist than the actual villain, who only exists, because the plot demanded some sort of evil entity to stop the “heroes.” The filmmakers round out the ensemble with disposable Emojis, including a Poop. The decision to cast Stewart is mainly so they can jokingly credit him as a Sir at the end of the film. It’s a shame I’m not laughing.

The jokes tend to fall flat throughout the mercifully short runtime. A good chunk of them consist of using famous apps. While Tony Leondis puts a good deal of thought into the smart phone world, some of them still feel like missed opportunities. There are a lot of possible avenues they could have gone down with YouTube. Instead, it’s merely a video screen. One lengthy sequence in Candy Crush doesn’t do a single thing to develop the characters and progress the plot. It’s only there so the leads can partake in a game of Candy Crush with explanations of the rules, in case you feel like downloading the app. The teenager using the phone in the outside world lacks any sort of strong arc and the final message the film gives him is probably not the best lesson to send a young audience.

The talented artists at Sony Pictures Animation do manage to give The Emoji Movie a nice, colourful appearance. The character animation and backgrounds have a spark the story itself lacks, the opening shot especially being quite eye-catching The notion of Spotify having literal streams is an admittedly cute idea. The characters have a solid, fast-paced energy to them, even if the slapstick doesn’t have quite the brilliant snappiness this same studio displayed in Hotel Transylvania and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Patrick Doyle gives The Emoji Movie a score that should have probably occupied a far better film, but he deserves the credit for treating his job with a degree of seriousness. Some of Doyle’s compositions wouldn’t feel out of place in one of his more prestigious projects.

When the score is one of the few elements one can find to compliment in a film, there’s a problem. There are worse animated films out there than The Emoji Movie as this doesn’t illicit any sort of response. It’s not as funny or as clever or as satirical as it could have been. It’s just sort of there and will be easy to forget not long after a viewing, though the final half hour is a real slog. The Emoji Movie is destined to be mocked in ten years as a clear product of its time and a fascinating time capsule. The use of the Meh as the central Emoji is fitting, as that’s the most likely response to this disappointing product. And if ever there was a movie that deserved to be called a product, it’s this one.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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