It’s easy to be cynical about the The Emoji Movie, anticipating a cash cow for Sony, exploiting a modern trend to make a bit of money in the box office. It’s even easier to feel this way having seen the movie, as a film that is devoid of heart and soul, implementing as many buzzwords as you could imagine possible in a single screenplay. Hashtag not impressed.
Our protagonist is Gene (T.J. Miller), and he’s the ‘Meh’ emoji, starting work in Textopolis, whereby every character serves their master, as it were, a teenage boy who will call upon each different symbol as a means to communicate with friends, and more importantly, his high school crush. Problem is, Gene is not very good at maintaining his one facial expression, and in turn is labelled a defect, and his inability to perform his one single action could result in the user getting a new phone – thus destroying the entire city. So when head of the Emojis Smiler (Maya Rudolph) he teams up with Hi-5 (James Corden), an Emoji that has been cast aside (who high fives anymore?) to leave Textopolis and navigate their way around the contents of the phone, dipping in and out of different apps, hoping to find Jailbreak (Anna Faris) who they hope can hack into the system, to find the code that will fix Gene.
With any animation, no matter if we’re dealing with talking fish, monsters, or litter-picking robots, we strive to find a semblance of resonance, something that we can relate to in the real world and therefore allow us to project ourselves into this fantasy world. But there’s nothing. It’s so shallow and the script so simplistic, we have nothing to cling on to. In turn, we’re left with a film that feels so out of date, not only in a few years time, but about halfway through it feels as though it’s already run its course.
Evidently inspired by the likes of Wreck-It Ralph and Inside Out – this film comes without the charm not comedic sensibilities of either film, instead we just have loads of characters chatting absolute crap. And on the subject of talking shit, why Sir Patrick Stewart signed up to voice Poop is anyone’s guess, as not a single actor comes out of this project with any dignity. Not to mention the fact that our heroes are hackers – and we’re intended to root for their cause as they guess the user’s password and try to get behind firewalls. Bit rich, Sony.
But the leading issue is the inability to detect an audience for this film. It’s far too juvenile for adult audiences, and while there may be many colourful shapes and inane, contrived gags for children, it’s set in a world they don’t know anything about. Having watched this film you would perceive it to be aimed at those under the age of 10 – but those of that demographic don’t own smart phones, deeming the vast majority of the film’s jokes completely redundant. Though perhaps not having an audience is a blessing in disguise, for it means that very few will actually go and see this film – and if that happens, it may put studios off ever making anything like this again.