The Emoji Movie

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The Emoji Movie
Extremely 😡👎, 💀, 🤮 and 😱.
Genre: Comedy
Directed By: Tony Leondis
Produced By: Michelle Raimo Kouyate
Written By: Tony Leondis and Eric Siegel
Based On: Emojis
Starring: T.J. Miller
James Corden
Anna Faris
Maya Rudolph
Steven Wright
Jennifer Coolidge
Jake T. Austin
Christina Aguilera
Sofía Vergara
Sean Hayes
Patrick Stewart
Photography: Color
Distributed By: Sony Pictures Releasing
Release Date: July 23, 2017 (Regency Village Theatre)
July 28, 2017 (United States)
Runtime: 86 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $50 million
Box Office: $217.8 million

"The Emoji Movie is about the "meh" emoji and how he has other expressions besides "meh." Today, I went and saw it. And... it... SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKED!!!!!"

Chris Stuckmann, ["The Emoji Movie - Movie Review"]

"I remember when the first trailer dropped it was hated in a similar way to the Ghostbusters reboot. It is joyous to see that every now and again the people of the world will put their foot down and just say: "NO! No, Emoji Movie. You will not get away from this unscathed". Aaaand it hasn't! At the time of me writing this, The Emoji Movie is the 6th lowest-rated film of all time on IMDb."

I Hate Everything, ["I Hate The Emoji Movie"]

"From the first line to the last scene, my heart slowly turned into a black hole of hatred and-and despair that slowly pulled my internal organs towards it painfully."

Treesicle, ["The Emoji Movie Killed Me"]

"This is not a deep message about emotional repression; Sony said this because they know that's exactly what the generation wanted to hear. No challenge whatsoever, just pandering! This is the most sinister experiment Sony has ever made, where they finally realize they can make absolute food trough, pig trash as long as it has a popular cultural reference in it and it would still somehow sell enough to make a profit! Please! I implore you, don't see this movie!"

PhantomStrider, ["The Worst Sony Animated Movies of All Time"]

"It's not even the worst Sony movie. But it is a bad movie, and it deserves all the hate it gets because it embodies pretty much everything that's wrong with the modern film industry in the sense that it's a shallow, soulless cash-grab made to capitalize on a well-known, pre-established property while at the same time pushing as many product placements as possible."

Possum Reviews

"I told myself this is what i supposed to do today! This is what i'm supposed to do as work or as entertainment, and i'm like, why? There's so many other things i can talk about that's awesome! Why am i spending time with The Emoji Movie?"

Black Nerd

"I-i'm done. I'm gonna gouge my eyes out."

Ouro Kronii

"🖕👉💩 "

Nostalgia Crtic

"Normally I don’t like to review lowest common denominator mockbusters that aren’t worth my time, but The Emoji Movie deserves livid infamy. I want Sony to remember this for a long time to come. I want them to hold it up as warning to their future creative decisions. To let it be a guiding light in the correct direction. I never want Sony, or any other studio, to do something like this ever again. And I am sure that most people are on the same page. And you don’t give that, by giving The Emoji Movie a pass as being not that bad. It is a tedious, slow, insulting, cliched, awful, insidious, piece of shit that should have never been made. And I have absolutely no reservations and no hesitation in saying that it is the worst animated film that I have ever seen."


The Emoji Movie (initially titled Emojimovie: Express Yourself) is a 2017 American computer-animated science-fiction comedy film directed by Tony Leondis, written by Leondis, Eric Siegel and Mike White, produced by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It is based on emoji faces, smileys, and graphics used in electronic messages.

The film premiered on July 23, 2017, at the Regency Village Theatre and was theatrically released in the United States on July 28, 2017, to overwhelmingly negative critical reception. Despite this, the film was, shockingly, a box-office success.

Plot 📖

Hidden inside a smartphone, the bustling city of Textopolis is home to all emojis. Each emoji has only one facial expression, except for Gene, an exuberant emoji with multiple expressions. Determined to become "normal" like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his best friend Hi-5, and a notorious code breaker called Jailbreak. During their travels through the other apps, the three emojis discover a great danger that could threaten their phone's very existence.

Why It’s 🤢

  1. The basic concept of having a movie based on emojis (while not the worst concept by all means) can be incredibly bland and confusing; the fact that the concept has a rather botched execution doesn't exactly help.
  2. Similar to Foodfight!, the film feels more like an advertisement product, except this time for phone apps and smartphones, extended into one film as it is overloaded with product placements from real-life phone apps. This movie's advertisement and product placement usage is just as bad, if not worse than in both Smurfs movies. Most of the products that the movie advertises include Spotify, WeChat, Facebook, Candy Crush, YouTube, Instagram and Just Dance Now. It also tries to leech off the popular smartphone culture even though the writers might not have done enough research about such culture despite Sony Corporation, the parent company of Sony Pictures Animation that therefore owns the rights to this film, being known for their technology and Xperia smartphones. The overwhelming amount of product placement combined with the portrayal of teenage people makes the whole movie look like cultural propaganda.
    • On the topic of the film feeling like an advertisement for phone apps and smartphones, it is made even more blatantly obvious by Gene introducing smartphones to the audience and then describing how great emojis are in the opening scene as well as when it is being explained how to play Candy Crush after Gene, Hi-5 and Jailbreak arrive there before they begin playing the game to free Gene.
    • In an interview for the film on the official YouTube channel for Sony Pictures Animation and in both a featurette and the director's commentary found on the DVD of the movie, director Tony Leondis stated that he wanted to incorporate real-life apps into the movie; while product placement can be used well in some films. But it should be taken into consideration the fact that not everyone is going to like it since some might assume they are watching an ad instead of a film.
    • On the topic of not knowing specific details, The Emoji Movie knows nothing about phones (and ironically, this comes from a studio whose parent company is better known for their technology and Xperia smartphones); in the climax when the phone is in the process of its factory reset, several apps get deleted. But after Alex unplugs the phone, the aforementioned deleted apps get restored. Upon deleting an app, it is permanently gone and there is no way of getting it back unless you re-install it, that is.
    • What's worse is that the movie's tie-in novel had actually made up alternative names of the apps shown in the movie or they simply hadn’t mentioned them at all, which makes you wonder why they didn't stick with those instead of the product placement shown.
    • The film also portrays teenagers as phone addicts who heavily refuse to communicate with each other aside from text messages. But instead of criticizing this problem, it encourages it which is a total red flag.
  3. Many poor attempts at humor which often take forever to finish, with many of them coming across as either poorly-written, immature, childish, disgusting, or unfunny:
    1. Poop and his "number two" joke.
    2. Hi-5 throwing up a corn candy before putting it back into his mouth and later throwing it up again.
    3. The scene at the "loser lounge" depicts a fishcake emoji who sounds like a person with a disability, and somewhat that in itself seems harmful to people with disabilities.
    4. Many of the jokes also come across as rather stereotypical.
    5. Even the innuendos are scummy, particularly one shot with the elephant and dashing away emojis which is supposed to represent how the elephant is flatulating.
    6. Some of the jokes suffer from being on-the-nose with one scene depicting a shrimp emoji joining his fellow shrimp emojis in a vehicle, resembling a shrimp cocktail.
    7. Perhaps the most unfunny examples of humor hinge around the one emotion each non-Gene and non-Mel emoji character has to represent; for example, in the scene in the YouTube app, Mary states "Don't blame me for this, Mel, I am hopping mad at you. See?" and makes a more tired face rather than an angry face.
    8. Hi-5 even twerks for about three seconds in the Just Dance scene while showing actual bare buttocks.
  4. Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard from Star Trek and Bullock from American Dad!) was severely miscast as Poop, the feces emoji; apparently, Stewart himself said that his casting was meant to be a joke.
  5. The story is very unoriginal, predictable and formulaic. It is about a misunderstood character who accepts oneself for who they are; it also features clichés used in other films, particularly the never-explained reveal of Mel having the same problem as his son (which feels rather rushed as an attempt to make audiences understand why Gene has this problem) alongside the fact that there is an ending where everyone dances, even with the "be yourself" moral.
    • Even Hi-5's motivation for joining Gene is pretty generic as he just wants to be popular among the other emojis once more.
    • The film's plot elements are rather similar to Wreck-It Ralph, The Lego Movie, and Inside Out, and are also similar to Sony's other animated film called Smurfs: The Lost Village which was released three months earlier; both are set in worlds where the characters have only one character trait. The main character is an outcast, they go on a journey with their friends to forbidden lands and end up with a preachy message of being yourself.
  6. Almost all of the emoji characters suffer from several issues:
    1. All of the non-Gene and non-Mel emojis have rather flat characterizations as they are only supposed to feel the emotions they represent; almost every emoji character has this flaw, especially Mary who mistreats her son for his problem.
      • The characterization is also inconsistent. Every single emoji seems to express other emotions than the one that they have to do when they are used on the phone. As a result, the entire plot is pointless.
    2. Gene Meh, the main protagonist, is an unlikable and incredibly generic and basic protagonist who wants to fit in but has something that gets in his way.
      • The romantic relationship between him and Jailbreak is also rather forced and bland.
    3. Jailbreak is an obvious ripoff of Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie in terms of personality and character design; she also shares too much in common with Olivia "Sombra" Colomar from Overwatch as both characters are notorious hackers and have skull insignia designs.
    4. Hi-5 is very annoying and obnoxious and even more than Chuck and Bomb from The Angry Birds Movie, with regurgitating candy, which adds more insult to injury as mentioned above is a good example. It gets to the point where it makes Gene and Jailbreak likable by comparison. He also does several bad things:
      1. When Red Wagon asks if she could come too in the loser lounge, Hi-5 pushes her and says "Talk to the hand, red wagon!", which doesn't even make sense considering that she was talking to the hand itself.
      2. When Jailbreak warns Hi-5 to be careful when they are trying to save Gene in Candy Crush, he ignores the warning completely.
      3. While he does offer to allow everyone else in the trash to escape after he is saved by Gene and Jailbreak, he then deliberately knocks the rope over causing everyone in the trash to die (including innocent characters such as Akiko Glitter).
    5. Even Smiler is inconsistently portrayed; she initially gives "be yourself" advice to the other emojis and later sees Gene as a malfunction as he is a multi-expressional emoji, not to mention she is nothing but a gender-swapped version of Mr Burns from The Simpsons.
    6. They also suffer from rather poor representation; Smiler is depicted as the antagonist even though all she intended to do was to protect Textopolis from being deleted; similarly, Gene is depicted as the main protagonist despite him being the one responsible for most of the problems that occurred to the point where he almost caused the entire phone to have its data be wiped. The film tries to force its audience to sympathize with the protagonist and to root against the villain without giving them the usual proper characterization as a reason to do this.
    7. On the topic of sympathizing with the protagonists, it was already hard to sympathize with Hi-5 since he was already self-centered and arrogant by the time he was introduced in the film.
  7. Several scenes are rather inappropriate for a film targeted towards children, particularly when Poop nearly utters "shit" before it cuts away.
    • There's a scene that briefly plays the song "Bubble Butt" by Major Lazer.
  8. At several points in the film, specific details in the background feel rather distracting; for example, the first scene in the film is riddled with several message bubbles that appear as the characters communicate with one another, which gets in the way of the story the film is trying to tell. Some of the details also come across as rather nonsensical with Alex being stated to have a social security number, and such is very questionable for a fourteen-year-old freshman in high school.
  9. False advertising: Despite the heavy marketing of Poop on posters and in the trailers, this character only gets around two minutes of dialogue and he doesn't even have an important role in the movie whatsoever.
    • In the teaser trailer, Mel says "It's my pleasure to announce our first movie", noting that this movie was intended to be the start of a franchise. However, its overwhelmingly negative reception makes it pretty clear that any sequels will be very unlikely to happen.
  10. The advertisements and the marketing for the film look pretty awful which doomed its reputation already. Aside from the heavy marketing of Poop on posters and in the trailers (mentioned above), there was a promotional image posted on the film's Twitter account that parodied the Hulu dystopian series The Handmaid's Tale. In the image, Smiler was depicted as being the series' main character Offred, with the caption, "A Smartphone Original: The Emoji’s Tale" and the tweet reading, "Blessed be the Emoji." The image was widely criticized and sparked controversy online for being inappropriately marketed towards a kids' movie as the aforementioned series involves women being forced into ritualistic sex to repopulate the country (due to the plummet of fertility rates as a result of environmental issues), so then it’s not a kid-friendly film. Even though the tweet had since been deleted, the damage was already done due to the film's overwhelmingly negative reception.
  11. The movie completely forgets about Hi-5's subplot of becoming a favorite once more and focuses only on Gene until the end.
  12. Jailbreak claims that female emojis are being stereotyped as only princesses and brides but it falls flat on its face upon taking into consideration that several emojis in the film are female, including Mary and Smiler, and yet almost none of them are princesses or brides; in fact, Smiler was even the original emoji and founder of the texting company she, Gene and his friends work at.
  13. The voice acting (aside from Patrick Stewart and Anna Faris) is shockingly mediocre even for a Sony Pictures Animation film. Everyone nearly and constantly underacts and sounds as if they just want to get out of the project, except for Maya Rudolph who actually goes about overacting (see RQ#6).
  14. The film feels the apparent "need" to spout random and dated slang (even by near-late 2010s standards) especially when Gene and Hi-5 mention "#truth" and "#blessed".
  15. The film has pretty excruciating and stupid dialogue. (Example: "We're number two!")
  16. Much of the events of the film are rather pointless as Gene, Hi-5, and Jailbreak can go around the apps rather than through them to reach their destination, and thus it would've taken much less time to get there had they gone around the apps instead. This was done just to pad out the movie's runtime.
    • What makes the story even more pointless is when it is taken into consideration that Alex will eventually decide to replace his phone with a new one.
    • Another large portion of the story, specifically the climax, is pretty pointless since Alex does not need tech support to wipe his phone. It is more than easy to do it himself.
    • What’s even worse is that since Alex jailbroke his phone, his warranty would have been voided which should have prevented him from taking it to “Wireless Wireless” (the phone shop in the movie). This does not seem to be the case here.
  17. There are issues with the pacing as it has a hard time maintaining a balance between the four main subplots, focusing on Gene, Alex, Smiler, and the former's parents, ultimately resulting in several scenes being either too fast or too slow; this is extremely noticeable in the climax which happens way too quickly.
  18. The film wants its audience to believe that emojis are more important than actual words, but it’s pretty much false moral; for example, in the opening scene, Gene mentions how "Emojis are the most important thing in the history of communication" and Alex's friend later states that "Words aren't cool." It is also rather hypocritical given the fact that the film was very obviously written with words.
  19. Uneven and uncanny character designs even for emojis standard as well. Gene can be comparable to a rejection of Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. Hi-5 is just a hand with limbs and a face and it of course seems uncanny as well. Smiler, well, literally just always smiles no matter what.
  20. Outdated references to popular culture and internet phenomena, specifically the music video for "PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen)" by Pikotaro briefly appearing in the scene in the YouTube app; one can also clearly hear "Watch Me" by Silento briefly playing in the background during the scene in the Spotify app.
  21. At one point, the film seems to preach feminism when Jailbreak complains about how "women are always coming up with stuff that men are taking credit for". As mentioned before, she also asks Gene "Did you realize that in the first emoji set, a woman can either be a princess, or a bride?" for assuming that she is a stereotypical princess, which is later retconned when she calls for the Twitter bird later on to save Gene (and even Mel) from getting killed.
  22. The film also features some anachronisms:
    • The Hammer emoji appears as a judge's gavel during specific scenes. It resembles Apple's original graphic for the iPhone, which changed with iOS 6 in 2012.
    • While most of the emojis in the film are part of the set standardized by Unicode, Toaster, Broom and Disco Ball were not as of mid-2017. The Fortune Cookie and Takeout Box emojis were officially added to the Unicode Standard in June 2017, a month before the movie came out, so they would not have been on phones during production although it is possible that they added them during the last minute.
  23. Plot holes: Hi-5 tells Gene that he needs to find Jailbreak if he wants to figure out how to save himself from being deleted by Smiler. When they finally meet her, however, Hi-5 seems surprised to see that Jailbreak is a female, indicating that they never met before. How does he know who she is in the first place?
  24. While the animation is very nice solid and fluid in terms of overall visual design, it looks rather highly uncreative and unimaginative and the art style looks really generic for the most part. This has a huge lack of creativity put into it as well because of the character designs (previously stated in WI🤢 #20).
  25. Abysmal direction by Tony Leondis who also directed Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch and Igor, also it kills Tony Leondis's career.
  26. It’s overall no surprise that, just like Batman & Robin (or any terrible movie, and/or piece of media to a lesser extent), this movie is notorious for ruining the reputations, and to a lesser extent, careers of people who were involved in the movie.
    • On that note, this film also nearly damaged the reputations of both Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Entertainment as a whole after the amount of backlash this film received before and after the film's release, which resulted in Sony Pictures Animation being hated and infamous for making this film as well as being unable to be taken seriously as a major animation studio. Fortunately, the studio was able to recover from this after the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which thanks to the critical and commercial success of the latter, managed to save the studio from further decline in quality.

Redeeming Qualities 🙂

  1. The concept of sentient emojis is creative and unique.
  2. Like many of the other films from Sony Pictures Animation, the animation is very solid in terms of rendering. And although the art style looks generic for the most part, some elements look rather nice.
    • To add to this, despite the overuse of blatant and obvious product placement, the way the animators were able to create the world of the phone and the different apps pretty much was well done.
  3. The scene on Instagram where Mel and Mary make up with the former opening up to the latter and revealing his inner emotions to her explaining how he kept them bottled-up inside and how he was afraid of showing them is very emotional; it is also paced properly in comparison to almost every other scene in the film. The conversation between both Mel and Mary feels organic and it feels like a conversation between two parents going through problems.
  4. As weak as many of the attempts at humor are, some worked:
    1. There is an amusing moment with the Columbia Pictures opening logo with an emoji.
    2. Old-school emoticons, specifically ":)", are portrayed as elders in one scene.
    3. One scene where Akiko Glitter is dancing in the trash wondering why she keeps dancing while crying.
  5. Excellent soundtrack for the film composed by Patrick Doyle (who also did the soundtrack for Kenneth Branagh movies Brave and Artemis Fowl); in particular, "Good Vibrations" by Ricky Reed is decent too.
  6. The human characters, Alex and Addie, are tolerable characters and their chemistry is adorable.
    • Smiler is well-developed and sympathetic as a character as her intentions and motivations are understandable and were defined better than those of the other characters despite her still not being that likable. Everything she did was to stop Gene from essentially destroying the emojis' world; she wanted to kill him to protect the phone and its data from getting deleted. In addition to this, Maya Rudolph does a decent job playing her despite the overacting.
    • Akiko Glitter and Poop are also tolerable.
  7. Despite the performances from many of the actors being below average, T.J. Miller's performance as Gene stands out decently. The same can be also said for Maya Rudolph's performance as Smiler as well.
    • Most of the voice actors/voice actresses do better jobs and great jobs voicing the characters in the international dubs of The Emoji Movie.
  8. There are at least decent references to both Pong and Michael Jackson despite these references feeling a bit out-of-place.
  9. The film gives a good moral about accepting yourself for who you are and that it's ok to be different, but was executed.
  10. At least Gene, Hi-5, Jailbreak, and Mel do get their respective character development by the end of the movie.
  11. The novel adaptation, while also bad, does address some of this movie's problems and is a small improvement. For example, Alex and Addie talk face-to-face instead of using just the Gene emoji in the movie. Also, and as mentioned before, it replaces the product placement with in-movie versions of the apps shown.

Reception 🔴⬇️🟢⬆️

The film was universally lambasted by critics, moviegoers, and audiences, criticizing the humor, script, lack of originality, tone, plot, voice acting, and especially, the constant use of product placement. It was met with negative comparisons to The Lego Movie, Inside Out, And Wreck-It Ralph. It currently has a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 134 reviews. The critics' consensus is replaced with a prohibition symbol emoji ("🚫").

Comments 🗨️

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