The following review was originally written and published by Caillou Pettis at http://dailyfilmfix.com on 8/4/17.
Just when you thought Hollywood was finally stepping up its game with its quantity of great films, they prove everybody wrong with The Emoji Movie, directed by Tony Leondis.
The city of Textopolis is a gigantic world inside a smartphone which inhabits various emojis. One of the many in the bunch is Gene (T.J. Miller), who is embarrassed with himself as, unlike the other emoji, he has multiple possible facial expressions. The other emojis only have one possible expression. Gene then takes it upon himself to embark on a quest in hopes that he can fit in.
Even when I first heard, let alone watched a trailer for The Emoji Movie, I was not looking forward to taking this one in. A film based entirely about little icons we type in messages to friends and family on our cellphones, should in no way translate to a feature. This truly is without a doubt, the worst picture I have viewed all year, and that is certainly saying something. I have seen dozens of motion pictures this year, some great (see Logan), and some not so much. But in the case of The Emoji Movie, this truly is a disaster of epic proportions.
As soon as the film gets into the first ten minutes, you can tell that the screenplay tries to wriggle cheap laughs, but it falls flat on every level. I saw this film surrounded by a bunch of energetic children and toddlers, and even they, the target audience, almost never laughed. Throughout the very short run-time that felt longer than it was, I actually did cringe at the jokes. When one of your film’s characters is literally named Poop, you know you are in for a quite unfunny ride.
The plot to The Emoji Movie is also stale, and drastically uninteresting. You never once feel connected to any of the characters as they are all very mundane and one-note. Gene, for example, his entire journey throughout the movie is just to have one facial expression. If these characters were further detailed, and were given more characterisation, then perhaps I would have felt a bit of sympathy for our protagonist, but I did not.
Also, there is product placement galore as we constantly get references to social media giants like Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, and the emojis even play a game of the largely popular app, Candy Crush. There is even some scenes that completely abandon the emoji characters and follow a boy named Alex (Jake T. Austin), and these scenes dragged for the audience, similar to the scenes I aforementioned.
The Emoji Movie really has no reason to exist, or to even be a film idea. The entertainment industry has pumped out some brilliant films this year; films that surprised audiences and took them by storm. Something that this film certainly will not do. It is honestly devastating to see what movies have come to – a film about emojis has been made. Let us pray that we do not get a full length feature about fidget spinners next.
Filled to the brim with dry, and unfunny jokes, annoying characters, and a ridiculous amount of product placement, The Emoji Movie is one of the most unnecessary films I have seen, and bores its target audience. The worst film of the entire year so far.
Overall Grade: F
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor
Cast: T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph
Directed by: Tony Leondis
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Running Time: 86 minutes