Alex (Jake T. Austin) is an average kid, struggling to talk to a girl he fancies at school and completely addicted to his smartphone. Little does Alex know that inside his phone is a digital city called Textopolis, where emoji Gene (T.J. Miller) struggles with his own problems. Gene is meant to keep a constant ‘Meh’ expression on his face but he can’t help exhibiting other emotions like joy and excitement. Desperate to be accepted by his peers, Gene goes on a journey to become a normal emoji, enlisting the help of Hi-5 (James Corden) and Jailbreak (Anna Faris) along the way.
When the news hit that a film based on emojis was coming out, most people’s first thought was something along the lines of ‘Yup, looks like Hollywood is definitely out of ideas now.’ Still, it’s important to give these things the benefit of the doubt and hope that the filmmakers strive to make something more expansive and profound beyond this core concept. Unfortunately, nothing stands out in The Emoji Movie as particularly creative, imaginative or interesting.
The plot is formulaic and predictable, and the script is not funny enough to hold one’s attention. Even with some interesting casting from actors and TV personalities who are known for comedy, such as T.J. Miller (Deadpool, Silicon Valley), James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Patrick Stewart, Sofía Vergara and Sean Hayes (Will and Grace), no one can save the abominable script or do anything with characters who there’s nothing smart or fun about. Corden is particularly annoying and unlikeable in his role while the sequences that focus on Jennifer Coolidge and Steven Wright as Gene’s parents fall flat. To top it all off, there’s nothing interesting whatsoever about the animation.
Frustratingly, the film thinks it’s a lot funnier and smarter than it actually is and borrows from the likes of Wreck-It Ralph (most obviously in the Candy Crush segment) in a lazy, watered down manner. It makes comments about Facebook not being about friends but about popularity, turns apps into actual locations, personifies viruses, spam (into an suspiciously friendly character named ‘SPam’) and firewalls, and portrays emoticons as elderly. Basically, they use the most basic ideas anyone would come up while brainstorming what to include in a movie about emojis. It’s all so blatantly corporate as to make one queasy.
Ironically, the dominant emotion one feels watching The Emoji Movie really would be ‘Meh.’ While I’m sure kids are dying to see this, I’d advise any parent reading, if at all possible, to avoid taking them to it. It is a bad movie and will turn your children’s brains into Patrick Stewart’s character.