2017 in Cinema:
The Emoji Movie, 2017
Directed by: Tony Leondis
Starring: T. J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara, Sean Hayes, Patrick Stewart
(For this and future animated films I’ll simply be given them an overall rating on a scale of 1*-5*, rather than the usual combination of the four main elements.)
The Emoji Movie. A film about living emojis.
This film is set within Alex’s phone, in a digital city called Textopolis, and we follow the journey of Gene, a ‘Meh’ emoji who, unusually, can have multiple emotions. In this world if you’re an emoji your emotion matches that (Smiler (Maya Rudolph) always smiles, Mel Meh (Steven Wright) and Mary Meh (Jennifer Coolidge), Gene’s parents, are always meh) but Gene is considered a malfunction because of his unique ability. From there he is escaping robots trying to delete him with his new friends, Hi-5 (James Corden) and Jailbreak (Anna Faris), and they journey through various apps on Alex’s phone. And in the real world Alex has a crush on a girl but the actions of all the emojis cause Alex to assume his phone is broke.
This film features a variety of popular apps (from Just Dance to Candy Crush) and talks of The Cloud and the Recycle Bin. For children watching it they will enjoy seeing all their favourite apps being played on the big screen (to navigate through Just Dance they have to dance, to navigate through Candy Crush they need to match all the colours to rescue Gene, to navigate through Spotify they have to ride the sound waves) and the emojis look quite decent on the screen; ‘decent’ in the sense that the emojis look on the screen as they do within a phone. But that is where any compliments for the film end.
For a supposed comedy film this film falls mightily flat with its comedy. Its noticeable where they intend certain scenes to be comedic (Hi-5 suffering a sugar rush and vowing never to eat sugar again … then he eats more sugar) but they just do not work. The plot of the film is also very simple: he’s not meh so he must be deleted. He has the usual friends (the joker and the love interest) and, speaking of the love interest; it just pops up out of nowhere and suddenly becomes a thing. There’s no building up towards it or subtle hints early on: it just arrives and is a thing.
The length of the film can be seen as a blessing or a curse: a short film at not much over an hour, it doesn’t give enough time to build the world or the characters, and we are just left to assume we understand the characters because we understand they all have one emotion. If we see Smiler we, as an audience, understand that character will always smile, and that supposedly negates the need for character development. The only characters with a real arc are Mr. and Mrs Meh, who search for their son and have their own little journey of love, but given that they must abide by their meh emotion it’s presented as comedic and doesn’t work.
Poor jokes. A poor plot. Poor characters. Poor film.
Overall Rating: *