The Emoji Movie (2017)
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Critic Reviews for The Emoji Movie
The Emoji Movie is not just a critical flop, but also a metaphor for a Hollywood that is struggling to find the line between branding that audiences love and branding that audiences resent.
It would be hard to forgive The Emoji Movie its "meh" plotline and the fact that it is literally one giant ad for apps, but its most unforgivable sin is that it perpetuates the notion that emojis are childish.
At its best, this seems like a second-rate version of Pixar's Inside Out. At its worst, it's a cash-grab based on a cynical high-level concept.
There's a justifiable self-loathing running through The Emoji Movie, a fragile attempt to (sigh) deconstruct the meaning of Emojis while also (sigh) demonstrating the profound possibility that Emojis are the language of the future.
Audience Reviews for The Emoji Movie
Did you love Inside Out? I know I did. I never felt like it was Pixar's best movie (there was too much repetition with the other emotions causing havoc in their host's mind), but I loved that, you could say, that it was a movie that dealt with mental illnesses in a mature and intelligent way. It also explored issues about how, in the long run, you cannot avoid being sad. Sadness is an emotion that will never be able to be avoided for as long as you're alive, but the movie never shied away from the fact that, you know what, this is a part of life and if you wanna be sad for one reason or another, then it's OK. I obviously simplified it down, but Inside Out explores these issues intelligently with heart, soul and humor. You may be asking yourself why I've brought this up in reference to The Emoji Movie. Well, unless you're living under a rock and are unable to read this review, you know what emojis are. Those little icons meant to display a singular emotion, whether that be sadness, happiness, anger. There's obviously a shit-ton of emojis out there, but I'm just narrowing it down for the purpose of this review. Well, this movie uses the emojis like Inside Out uses actual emotions. Because, apparently, emojis in this world are as important and relevant as actual conversation and communication. Conceptually, the movie is idiotic right from the start. The meh emoji (I can't believe I just typed that) fails at his one job of being meh. He fails at this by being too many emojis at once, he is called a malfunction and destroys his workplace with his malfunctions. He teams up with the high-five emoji and Jailbreak (the original princess emoji) to reprogram the code so he'll be a proper meh emoji and Alex, the kid who owns the phone the emojis live, won't erase every app later that afternoon. Apparently, one glitch is enough to make this kid want to erase every app on his phone, which he could actually do himself, but he decides to go to this store to have the apps erased. Because the suffering needs to go on even longer. But, fine, that's the basic outline of the story. That's not the problem, naturally, the problem is the horrifyingly lazy humor on display here. Sir Patrick Stewart (yes, he's in this) plays the turd emoji. You can only imagine what his jokes will be like. Puns surrounding the word duty, his being #2, wanting to be soft, but not too soft, people making a stink out of things. Goddamnit, FUCKING WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?!?!?!?! You pay Patrick Stewart to give him trash material to deliver. I like Stewart, he still took the paycheck, but I like him and I think he deserves so much better than this. But that's not the only egregious example of lazy, uninspired humor. There's the emoji monkeys who are on, I quote, monkey business. HA!!! GET IT, BECAUSE THEY'RE MONKEY BUSINESSMEN!!! HUMOR!!!!! To borrow a line from the Honest Trailer from this movie, they run the meh emoji joke into the ground. Mel tells his wife not to overreact and when she goes 'Oh my' in the most bored way possible, he replies 'see, I knew you'd overreact'. MORE HUMOR!!! And they really do run this joke into the ground. If it wasn't funny the first time, it's not gonna be funny the fifth time. It is, quite frankly, the most offensively lazy animated movie in terms of humor that I've seen in ages. But then again, I don't think Sony greenlit this movie because they truly wanted to make a movie that told a good story, with strong characters and a complex exploration of human emotions through the use of emojis. That's not what they wanted to do. They wanted a movie that they could use to sell companies as cross-promotion. Sony has been shy about littering their movies with so much product placement (of their own products) to the point that it's sickening. Everyone remember in Chappie, when they used something like 200 (I'm just guessing, but this is an example) PS4s in order to create one giant supercomputer instead of using, you know, an actual supercomputer. Because in a crime-ridden sci-fi world, it's really easy to find 200 PS4s just laying about. Chappie was distributed by Columbia Pictures, which is owned by Sony. So, obviously, the 200 PS4s were a Sony mandate. This movie, on the other hand, reaches out to other companies in order to get their brand in this movie. One of the few concepts I liked about this movie was the fact that every app is its own unique world. I liked that concept in theory but, of course, given how many brands are in this movie, they just serve like commercials for those specific apps and not because the film requires it. The problem is, though, that this movies take so long to make that a few of the apps they use for their worlds are already outdated by this point. Just Dance and Candy Crush immediately come to mind. My mom loved Candy Crush like two years ago, now she's over it and she's on to the Home/Gardenscapes of the world. And this is a movie made for idiot kids, where if they haven't seen it within the last week, they've already forgotten about it. I can imagine some kid asking his/her parent what the hell Candy Crush is. That's only two of the worlds. Let me just list off the brands that bought some space in this movie. Instagram, Facebook (logo only, since you only see their world from outside), Twitter (the bird logo helps Jailbreak and Hi-5), Spotify, Dropbox, YouTube, WeChat. And that's on top of Candy Crush and Just Dance. Off the top of my head, that's NINE different brands shoved into this movie. I'm sure there's plenty others, but I just forgot about them. Remember how people were up in arms about The Lego Movie being a cynical marketing exercise for the Lego brand instead of the movie. Yes, it was meant to sell the Lego brand, to be sure, but at least they used that brand to tell an insightful story on the importance of creativity for children as they're growing up. It was an actual movie with characters, a story, humor and a lot of heart. It ended up surprising a lot of people with how entertaining it was. Where are those people now??? I mean I guess the fact of the matter is that since this movie wasn't called the Sony Cross-Promotion Marketing Experiment Movie then people couldn't overreact, but goddamn, guys, THIS movie deserves the outrage. I think that's what pisses me off the most. This isn't really a movie as much as it is Sony shoving a lot of brands in there to give them some shameless promotion. And the sad thing is, I'm sure Sony Pictures Animation has a lot of really talented artists that worked hard as fuck for a long time to produce such a cynical piece of trash. And it's not their fault, I'm sure that this was a Sony mandate. And, even if it wasn't, even if it started as a legitimate movie surrounding emojis, Sony got their greedy little hands on it and they absolutely destroyed any chance this film might have had of being good. This movie's existence is unacceptable. I struggle to even think about stuff that I did like. The animation is decent, but really bland. The voice acting is fine, but not particularly inspired. This felt like just a paycheck for everyone involved. I imagine there's no real passion involved once you read the script and you see how this is actually gonna play out. This isn't the worst movie I've ever seen, not by a long shot, but as far as cynical marketing exercises go, this is, by far, the worst. Even worse than Cars 2. And, as an animated movie (even though this really isn't one), it's the worst I have ever seen from a major studio. I rarely ever count movies done by smaller, independent studios, because they don't have the resources. This is a terrible movie, you know how Lavar Ball 'speaks things into existence', well I'm gonna wish this movie into obscurity. Everyone who had the unfortunate task of watching this will forget they ever spent 80 minutes of their lives they will never get back with this piece of trash. I'm embarrassed for our species after this movie. Where's the Patrick Stewart facepalm meme when you need it?
I guess it had to happen, we live in a time now where nothing is sacred, nothing is safe from being milked dry, and anything is free game. We've seen it all from various obscure choices in the videogame archives; to [i]Barbie[/i] to [i]Thomas the Tank Engine[/i] to board games and to [i]Lego[/i]. They will make a movie out of bloody anything given half a chance. I'm half expecting an animated movie about the world of marbles to roll along anytime soon (yes I'm proud of that pun). I think its fair to say I wasn't expecting anything much from this movie, if anything I only saw it out of pure morbid curiosity. I was simply intrigued at how they could construct a narrative around some mobile phone app icons. And my God do they try their best here! They [b]really[/b] stretch and reach and twist that thin ass plot as best they can. Does it work? Not really no, but kudos for trying. I mean I can't deny there are some nice little touches here, its not all terrible. The emoji's live inside a phone (duh) which is owned by a young boy named Alex. Said boy is going through the usual pre-pubescent angst with girls and whatnot and of course being young he uses his phone a lot. Within the phone the emoji's dwell in the city of Textopolis (I like it), their daily job is to produce their emoticon or expression on demand (when Alex uses it). Gene is a 'meh' emoji but he can also make other expressions which is looked upon as freakish, or like having a rare disease. When Gene gets his chance to be used by Alex he has a nervous breakdown and fudges it up. He then finds himself listed for deletion because he is now deemed a malfunction. Gene must now flee the city with another has-been emoji to help him find a hacker to hopefully get himself fixed. So the plot is pretty much the same old shit we've many times before. The protagonist must go on the run to evade the antagonist and her henchmen (henchemoji's). Along the way the protagonist meets new friends that are considered losers basically; and in the end after numerous scrapes they all discover themselves and make friends (whilst saving the day). Its a standard plot mapped on top of this emoji concept. Despite that its still flippin' convoluted though, the nonsense they set up to explain how emoji's are used on a phone. Its kinda treated like a gameshow scenario where talented, experienced and obviously popular emoji's are used regularly (almost like a sports team). But if an emoji shows good promise or whatever then they get the chance to be 'promoted' onto the phones main app screen. It sounds ridiculous because it basically is. Then all the emoji's that aren't used anymore get lumped into a loser lounge type scenario. Very predictable but also somewhat daft as I'm sure most emoji's actually get used a fair bit the world over. Call me stupid but one of the main fun things about this movie was spotting all the different emoji's (sad I know). And sure enough they're all here, right down to the national flags. I quite like how the old emoticons are presented as old age pensioners, umm...that's about as clever as it gets really. Aside from that the entire movie plays out like a long TV advert for various smart phone apps like [i]Twitter[/i], [i]Candy Crush[/i], [i]Just Dance[/i] etc...The movie also uses every flippin' bit of computer jargon it can muster, in a very predictable and cringeworthy fashion. For instance, pirating is represented by...yep...pirates. A Trojan horse is...umm...a big horse. A firewall is a big fiery wall (ugh!!!), and a virus is a sick looking electronic bacteria (fuck me!). Add to that a whole bunch of nauseating pop songs, modern trendy teen lingo, various brands and voilà! The sidekick characters bland and unfunny (hi-five and a princess), again totally predictable. Alex decides to completely wipe his phone when a few apps play up, why not just uninstall them? When the phone is almost wiped Alex stops because of an unusual emoji?? (Gene pulling a stupid face). This emoji is then sent to the girl he has a crush on and she instantly likes him because of that?? Most of the emoji's in Textopolis are erased during this process, but they all come back perfectly OK when the phone is rebooted? No side affects from that? Overall the movie certainly isn't as bad as I thought it was gonna be (but its still quite bad). There are some kernels of a good idea hidden away within, the odd sparse highlight. But again overall its still very very basic, bland, uninspiring, unfunny, and it doesn't even look that great really. This was always gonna be an uphill battle simply because what the hell can you do with emoji's?? I stand by my kudos to all involved for actually managing to produce something that isn't a complete train wreck, but at the end of the day I think we can all agree with was a complete waste of time and money. Heck the aim seems to be to push young kids towards their phones more than ever. As if youngsters need that kind of encouragement these days.
Amidst some buoyant animation and some inventive flourishes, The Emoji Movie touts a story and style that is all too disconcerting to the future of film in general. Technology is no doubt a prominent force in our modern world almost to a fault. Instead of critiquing our use of phones and apps as our sole interest, The Emoji Movie practically worships the devices, insisting that we are only getting worse so we might as well embrace having our faces plastered to an electronic. There is no celebration of actual one-on-one dialogue (the entire climax revolves around sending a text to a girl), and there is no optimism about kids growing up in a technology driven landscape. It's rather cynical. Throw into that the fact that the film often is diverting, but grates the longer and longer it drags on with over the top vocal work and lowest common denominator jokes and music cues. The world it does present within the phone is colorful and clever enough, but the film never tries and find a way to not celebrate consumerism. It is a dispiriting animated film in almost all aspects. Wait for Pixar's next instead. Rating: 38
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