PG for kind of scaring my kids. My kids are getting way too scared way too easily now. This movie isn't scary. The bots are a little scary, but every Disney movie is way scarier than this one. My kids need to suck it up and handle The Emoji Movie.
DIRECTOR: Tony Leondis
We all had the same idea. Review the movie just using emojis. Have a bunch of poop emojis right next to each other. It'll be hilarious. No, I will not do that. It has been done. Also, there are some very real things I want to discuss when it comes to this movie and it would be a complete cop out to avoid the movie I don't want to review by putting a bunch of emojis. So yeah, if I ever got enough followers that they could look for Easter Eggs, they aren't going to find them on this page because I'm actually going to review this movie like I spent money on it. Because I did. Oh God, I spent money on The Emoji Movie.
Let's jump right to the end. I would bold "Spoilers", but let's call this movie unspoilable because it has one of the worst faceplant endings I've ever seen in a movie. I'm full on going to tell you how the movie ends because I'm straight up mad about how this movie ends. (Let's also get something out of the way. Your fake incredulity about having expectations from The Emoji Movie is going to get old. I told you. I'm treating this like any other movie.) Gene's big problem is the same as Princess Vanelope Von Schweetz in Wreck-It Ralph. She is a glitch that is more than just a glitch. Her very fault is what makes her special. I'm going to come back to Wreck-It Ralph a few times because it steals so much from that movie I want to cry. But Gene can't help but be multiple emojis and people want to eradicate him for that very glitch. The kid wants to get his phone wiped because that glitch is causing his phone to break down. (Let's establish that the moral evil that the kid is committing is making sure that his expensive smartphone works. Blah.) When Gene sends out his constantly morphing emoji out to the girl he likes as a last ditch effort to save the phone, the girl is so smitten by the fact that Alex, the user of the phone, is so complex that he can't contain his real emotions in on emoji, I've never wanted to punch a movie harder in the face. At best (AT BEST!), the girl would think, "Aw, that's kind of cool. An animated emoji" and respond "Cool" or something. I want to get mad at millennials for that choice, but I know that millennials didn't make this movie. Studio execs...SONY made this movie.
These are grown executives just ticking a checklist of things that they think kids like. Sony and I are starting to get a real beef now because that ending is so flippant of a generation and it is just a cash grab. I'm ignoring the fact that one does not stop a system wipe that far along by simply unplugging the phone. Okay, that part hurts my head a bit, but not understanding what fundamentally makes people react and interact is a problem. This mostly comes from the fact that an emoji-focused movie is so ill-advised that there really is no way to give something so useless any gravitas. I normally am against marketing movies at all, but I've become a fan of The Lego Movie franchise. What those filmmakers did right was find what make LEGO, as a brand, so loved. I don't think anyone necessarily loves emojis. Everyone is just aware that they are kind of a fad that looks cool on some tee-shirts. Heck, I have emoji border on my class wallpaper because my five year old picked it out. But she's not obsessed with emojis. Emojis don't actually replace content. They are there as forms of colorful punctuation in an era that tends not to use actual punctuation.
Okay, I got that part out of my system. I might accidentally rant later, but I should look in terms of the entertainment value of the rest of the movie outside of the absolutely mentally insulting end of this movie. Like I mentioned, a lot of this was stealing Wreck-It Ralph's model of crossing over brands and cross-promoting different ideas. But where Ralph gets it right is that it is playing on nostalgia. While there are a ton of brands across that movie, none of it feels like an active plug. I'm sure Sega of America appreciated Sonic being there and they probably got a little bump in Sonic products from the quick cameo, but that was an afterthought. What Sony saw in that film was a chance to get advertising revenue. Is Just Dance such an important game that we needed to name it Just Dance? Anything in Ralph that was too recent to make it seem cheap got renamed. Hero's Duty was a clear parody of Gears of War and Call of Duty. Having Just Dance being the center of a plot really just felt like a marketing effort. I can't even stress how much I saw the logo for Candy Crush Saga in the movie. The scene was bad enough, but it was like the Cheerio's box in Superman. It was just everywhere. Playing up on the nostalgia makes for great storytelling, but there's no current nostalgia for the crap on your phone. The model can't work for all movies. Like Sony typically does, they checklisted the things that made something else great, copied it, and it didn't work at all.
T.J. Miller and James Corden are fun. Really, there's some very impressive casting in this movie, but the jokes are never all that impressive. I laughed a few times, but that's because it was me alone with two cranky kids in the movie theater and I really wanted my kids to enjoy the movie. It was Daddy Day! I wanted them to have a good time with it because they wouldn't really shut up about wanting to see The Emoji Movie. The jokes don't ever get to eye-rolling, but there are a lot of duds. The oddest choice for either joke or character development (I'm not really sure what was the purpose of this character) was the character Jailbreak. She spouts some pretty inspirational stuff about the role of women in cinema, which I thought was pretty cool in a kids movie. (I normally don't like politics in kids movies, but I want my daughter to be empowered and become the most ridiculous president ever.) But her empowerment was kind of treated like a joke when she does confess to actually being a princess who sacrifices her dreams for the love of the male character. Clearly the filmmakers were aware of the crime that they were committing and they did it anyway. Why? Do they not believe in the problems women face with their narrative structures? They understand it, because they vocalized it. Why would they not see it through to the end of the story? I don't know what is going on with that, but it made me feel a bit icky. T.J. Miller, oddly enough, plays the straight man. He's really funny and he doesn't really get the chance to let that shine. Most of the jokes go to James Corden, who does his best with the content that he is given. The problem is that the character is actually pretty annoying. I find overly confident characters funny most of the time, but there is a line that needs to be drawn sometimes.
The movie isn't the dregs of filmmaking, but it is pretty close. I really hope I don't have to watch this one again. I get a vibe that this is going to be on Netflix and my kids will have a short term memory about how scared they were in the theater. It'll be on in the background and I'll have to be dad who says "No more TV." Ah well, I've been the bad dad before. I'll be the bad dad again. I'm at least saving my kids brains from an inherently dumb movie and there still might be a chance that Olivia can be Vice President.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.