From the second it was announced, “The Emoji Movie” was destined to be infamous. For many, it was hard to believe that such a film was really being made. The immediate consensus was that it would probably be awful.
“The Emoji Movie” focuses on the journey of T.J. Miller’s Gene, a “meh” emoji who has problems because he is different. If you have ever seen a film where the protagonist is someone who is dismissed by society for being different, only to eventually save that society and become accepted, then you know exactly how his story will go.
In fact, nearly everything in the “The Emoji Movie” has already been done in countless other films. Nearly every character seems stock and the last 20 minutes feel like the writers are just trying to fit in every cliche that they possibly can. It’s incredibly hard not to see the similarities to other far better films, such as “The Lego Movie,” throughout its runtime.
The jokes are about as high in quality as anyone who saw the trailer would assume, which is to say that it’s not very funny. When the high point of a film is arguably Patrick Stewart voicing Poop, the emoji who seems to best fit the quality of the film, it’s clearly not a movie that will be funny to anyone except small children.
Some of the worst scenes in the movie are actually the ones that occur in the human world. The kid who owns the phone seems like an absolute halfwit, and we are given no reason to care about him or his crush who we know next to nothing about. Nearly every second the movie spends in the human world is too removed from an actual depiction of the human world, to the point that they offer no interesting juxtaposition with the emoji world and instead just serve as a dumping ground for more unfunny jokes.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the scenes inside the kid’s phone aren’t also often just slightly more watchable than the average Uwe Boll film. Just when you think that the scene set in Candy Crush was the worst thing the movie could throw at you, the one in the “Just Dance” app hits you like the lightning of an angry Zeus. It’s the kind of movie that you keep hoping will somehow get better, but deep down you have to admit to yourself that it simply won’t and that your suffering is your own fault for daring to hope.
Possibly the oddest part of “The Emoji Movie” is its creator’s intentions. The idea that the film is a shameless cash grab created only to make a quick buck off of the fact that kids like emojis is not a hard conclusion to jump to, but it is apparently not the truth. Director Tony Leondis apparently considered it a “very personal” story and Miller said that it would help children, “understand and adopt progressive values.” Knowing this makes the film seem all the more tragic since it manages to feel like a cash grab despite the people behind it having actual intentions. However, it should be noted that, while the film is likely to seem bland and ham fisted in its messages to most viewers, it is possible that children with less knowledge of cinema and less cynicism about the film industry could enjoy it and take its messages to heart.
Overall, “The Emoji Movie” is by no means the worst film of all time, but there isn’t much to praise it for either. From its incredibly unfunny opening scene to its incredibly hard to invest in climax, it is simply not a movie for anyone old enough to need more than emojis making poop jokes to feel entertained.