The Emoji Movie (2017). 1/5 stars for this unsophisticated animated film.

image still emoji movie

Film review, by Claire Durrant, of The Emoji Movie featuring the voices of James Corden and Anna Faris.


1 Star/Awful/Give this one a miss



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Inside your smartphone lives the city of Textopolis, a place of home and work for all emojis. Each emoji only had one designated emotion, except Gene (T.J. Miller) a ‘meh’ emoji who can make many expressions. After failing his first day at work, and threatened to be deleted, Gene along with ‘Hi-5’ (James Corden) and code breaker ‘Jailbreak’ (Anna Faris) travel through the phone to get to ‘Dropbox’, a place that can help with all their problems.

Review, by Claire Durrant

I have made it quite apparent on social media, that I believe a good amount of American animated films are becoming unsophisticated.

Not only in their style and design, but also in their narrative. Animated films can at times be art at its finest; from stunning scenes in hand drawn 2D animation, to great storytelling and detail in stop motion, to the visual feasts and fluid motions of 3D/ computer animated films.

The latter and most modern style has now become much in demand. Children have become reliant on the bright and energetic imagery. Producers have caught on to this, and film companies such as Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me 2010 and Secret Life of Pets and Sing both 2016) rely more on easy animation, and less on intelligent humour to persuade mindless children. Ticket and merchandise sales are valued higher than great content.

Therefore “animated films for children” rather than “for family” is now said as an excuse for this. Writers don’t have to rely so much on stories and jokes for all ages, now they just throw in a lazy fart joke to please the younger audience.

If you look at the animated films that have come out recently this year; Smurfs; The Lost Village, Boss Baby, Captain Underpants, the style of these films are vividly colourful yet juvenile. The reviews from critics aren’t favourable.

This brings me to The Emoji Movie. The concept could have been successful, it’s a brand and a language that many people know (which giving its young target audience – is also a social issue on how much technology children are exposed too.) The Lego Movie (2014) also proved that making a world out of a product can be ingenious. The Emoji Movie however, is the most soulless piece of garbage I have ever seen.

The jokes are lazy, and the story aspires desperately to be like Inside Out (2015) and Wreck It Ralph (2012), when in reality, it is more like Food Fight (2012). Food Fight is an animated film about known brand mascots set in a supermarket. It’s terrible, it doesn’t make sense, and yet the surreality of it all can make you laugh. The Emoji Movie is similar in the way that it too is terrible and the logic in the phone world also doesn’t make sense. However, the film is not so bad it’s good. It’s just bad.

The Emoji Movie is damaging to the brains of impressionable minds. If you don’t have Dropbox on your mobile, then you’re practically not allowing emojis to have a heaven like world – get it, because of The Cloud. Ugh! In fact the whole film is a corporate sell out and is one big advertisements. A huge chunk of the film is spent travelling between apps, from Candy Crush to Spotify. It’s so blatant.

When the story is not focusing on Gene and his group getting to Dropbox, we spend time with Alex (Jake T. Austin) who owns the phone the emojis live in. He spends the entire film deciding which emoji to text his crush. The stakes are that high!

What’s even more upsetting is the fact that this film has roped in an impressive voice cast on this mess. Miller and Faris are talented and humorous people, so I am sympathetic as they are wasted in a bland and lacklustre script.

Sir Patrick Stewart is the Poop Emoji! That sentence alone is greater than the movie. Unfortunately his character is reduced to easy jokes about, that’s right, poop.

There is a line in the movie where Poop tells another emoji to “aim higher.” My boyfriend and I speculated that that line was not in the script and was instead Sir PatStew in the voice recording booth talking to the writers. We found that idea funnier than the film.

The Emoji Movie and its message of being yourself is overdone and unoriginal. The film is boring, unfunny and painful to sit through. With animated companies, such as Disney or Pixar, Studio Ghibli and Laika producing amazing and beautiful films (most of the time,) it’s awful that The Emoji Movie is yet another film that tarnishes what great spectacles animation can be.

I don’t want to be gratuitous and say that The Emoji Movie should replace the video in The Ring as the film that ends up killing you in a week, but ever since I watched the film, the world seems a tad more grey and depressing.

Cast and Credits

Director: Tony Leondis. Columbia Pictures, LStar Capital, Sony Pictures Animation.

Producer: Michelle Raimo.
Writers: Tony Leondis, Eric Siegel, Mike White.
Music: Patrick Doyle.
Sets: Carlos Zaragoza.

T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Patrick Stewart, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara, Jake T. Austin.


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