I touched upon the more sinister side of cinema and how studio’s treat its audience like idiots in my last SMReviews Hates post. But that example was just a drop in the ocean, for this SMReviews Hates, let’s go swimming in it shall we? Though it wasn’t the winner of my worst film of 2017, The Emoji Movie is still a brown stain on a time when studios felt invincible to criticism. The actual announcement of this film told us that studios believed they could get away with mass producing trash films like this and that we would just consume it like entertainment craving pigs. But no. No. Audiences thankfully realised how non-essential it was for this film to exist and what followed was a remarkable show of collective hate for this film.
The Emoji Movie, directed by Tony Leondis, follows Gene (TJ Miller) a Meh Emoji who is different because whereas the other emojis can only do one expression, he can do multiple. Gene lives in Textopolis, a world inside the smartphone of a teenager called Alex (Jake T. Austin) and when Alex uses Gene in a text to his crush Addie (Tati Gabrielle) Gene messes up. Gene’s superior Smiler (Maya Rudolph) says gene is a malfunction but Gene escapes before Smiler can delete him. Gene is rescued by Hi-5 (James Corden) who tells Gene he knows a hacker emoji called Jailbreak (Anna Faris) who can fix him.
I knew within less than 20 seconds of this film beginning that I was going to absolutely hate this film. The opening scene is the most sickening and insulting first few minutes of any film I have seen. It actually sees the laziness of society as something to be celebrated. Don’t believe me, TJ Miller literally has to say that the world of the smartphone is more wonderous and magical than the real world and teenagers don’t even have the attention span to communicate with words. But the one that pushes me over the edge, the one that quintessentially assaults my capacity is when the film says that Emojis are the most important invention in the history of communication. Do Tony Leondis and fellow writers Eric Siegal and Mike White actual understand what they were saying when they wrote this dialogue? Did they think everyone would agree with them? Did they think? Did they truly engage in the cognitive process of having a thought? I don’t think I need to say anything else about the dialogue.
I can however say more about the other stories that are going on besides Gene’s journey. The first is with Alex, the user of the smartphone who has a crush on his classmate Addie. Oh how much I could talk about Alex and Addie’s will they, won’t they dynamic. Oh wait I can’t because I literally do not know who they are. I don’t know anything about these two except they’re teenager and they like their phones. Its ironic to think that the reason they get together is Addie liking how emotional Alex can be in the most unemotional way possible. The next subplot centers on Gene’s parents Mel (Steven Wright) and Mary (Jennifer Coolidge) who could get divorces *gasp*. Again this subplot is just as disinteresting as the other one, the film doesn’t even try to convince you that this is an integral part of the whole picture and just slots it into the plot for the sake of having a longer running time. Now I know these two characters are Meh emojis so it’s technically correct to have them speak in a disinterested manner, but by god put some emotion into this “conflict”.
Let’s move on to what everybody wants to see in a film these days, product placement (because of course there is). So in Gene’s journey we venture outside of Textopolis and enter the other apps in Alex’s phone such as Candy Crush, Just Dance, Spotify, Instagram, the Twitter icon makes an appearance as well as many, many more apps you would find on a typical smartphone. In most cases the writers use these apps as a barrier to stop the plot progressing from point A to B, and if this film isn’t already soulless enough, during the scene in the Just Dance, the films attempts to push this dance called “The Emoji Pop” onto you in an attempt to become some sort of new viral dance meme. So has it worked the way they wanted it to? Well when’s the last time you saw someone do “The Emoji Pop”?
When I think about it, soulless is the perfect word that summarises The Emoji Movie. I can’t even bring myself to identify this as a film because of how little it cares about you, the audience, and itself. There is such a big disconnect with it’s target audience that the pandering is off the charts. The level of disconnect the writers have to their target audience is on the same wavelength of that “Are ya winning son” because that’s the only way I can describe the people who wrote this “thing”, people who try too hard to understand something they will never understand in the first place.
So is there anything remotely positive in The Emoji Movie? Uhhhh…Uhhh… Patrick Stewart is Poop?