The Emoji Movie
No firewall is strong enough to protect this malware of a movie from disrupting cinema screens.
Writer and director Tony Leondis recently said he hoped to recreate his own version of Toy Story with The Emoji Movie, in the sense that he’ll shed light on what goes on behind the scenes of a big part of kids’ lives.
Sadly, unlike Toy Story, Inside Out or The Lego Movie, this new offering is more focused on mediocre advertising than the characters and the storyline itself.
There’s no Woody and Buzz, no Sadness and Joy, and certainly no Emmet and Batman; in fact, The Emoji Movie has no idea of its target audience - as while it sells itself as a kids' film, the sheer array of references to phone software, apps and general digital talk is enough to go over 99 per cent of the audience’s heads - and even the adults watching won’t find it amusing.
The film follows Gene (voiced by T. J. Miller), who is set to start his first day of work as ‘meh’ on the emoji keyboard of Textopolis on a phone which belongs to Alex (Jake T. Austin), an awkward teenager trying to impress his high school crush with the perfect text message.
But Gene’s parents Mel (Steven Wright) and Mary (a strangely toned-down Jennifer Coolidge) aren’t convinced he’s ready for the job, as unlike all the other emojis in the headquarters such as Poop (Patrick Stewart) and Flamenca (Sofia Vergara), Gene can express multiple emotions.
In fact, he struggles so much to stick to his ‘meh’ face that when he is chosen by Alex as the emoji to send to Addie (Tati Gabrielle) he panics and pulls too many different expressions, resulting in a strange, spliced emoji.
After causing disruption, Gene is called to the head office by Smiler, the original phone emoji, voiced in a funny and scary manner by Bridesmaids’ Maya Rudolph.
Unconvinced that Gene can get a hold on his emotions, Smiler demands he be deleted, though Gene makes a quick escape along with Hi-5 (given an annoying touch by the vocals of James Corden) to seek out the hacker known as Jailbreak (Anna Faris) who can hopefully fix Gene AND put Hi-5 back on the favourite emojis list.
If the plot wasn’t so driven by software, including majorly highlighting apps such as Spotify, Candy Crush and Dropbox, and focused more on appealing to the viewers, The Emoji Movie may not be such a mind-numbing film.
Even as an adult, it’s a struggle with the jargon-based humour, so to include such jokes in a movie aimed at children is completely and utterly pointless.
While Toy Story gave us characters we could see ourselves in, The Emoji Movie doesn’t give us anything to relate to whatsoever; rather than suggesting feelings come from deep down within, it appears to indicate that technology is the only way we can express ourselves and our emotions. Is this really the message people want to be giving to their kids?
It’s hard to avoid the obvious fact that big companies like Instagram and Spotify are the only parties who will be taking something away from this as, surprisingly, it’s already been doing well following its opening weekend in the U.S.
There is one silver lining though - the film opens with a Hotel Transylvania short called Puppy! which at least gets some laughs in before the disaster that’s to come.
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