The Emoji Movie: A dire effort to pick the pockets of young, vulnerable cretins

This is a hopeless effort to make a universe from product placement

New 3D computer-animated comedy film 'The Emoji Movie' directed by Tony Leondis stars the voices of TJ Miller, Anna Faris, Sofía Vergara and Patrick Stewart. The film centres on Gene, an emoji who lives in a teenager's phone. Courtesy: Sony Pictures

The Emoji Movie: Unmediated rubbish

Film Title: The Emoji Movie

Director: Tony Leondis

Starring: TJ Miller, Anna Faris, Sofía Vergara, Patrick Stewart

Genre: Animation

Running Time: 91 min

Wed, Aug 2, 2017, 09:40


We should give the makers of this wad of spume some small credit. The Angry Birds Movie was better than it needed to be. The Lego Movie was far better than we had any right to expect. The Emoji Movie manages the seemingly impossible feat of being a little bit worse than it sounded. That is a genuine achievement. How can this be possible?

The worst thing in this consistently dire effort to pick the pockets of young, vulnerable cretins is its determination to exploit the unworkable premise to death and beyond. This is a story about the little emoji that doesn’t quite fit in. Our ugly duckling is expected to represent “meh” – that’s pointed lack of interest, granddad – but he can’t stop himself from being outwardly happy, angry, surprised and so forth.

So he must journey about the menu screen in search of reprogramming. This brings him to a popular mobile game (available to purchase at a touch), a busy messaging app (get tapping, junior), and a visit to Instagram (here’s a photo of me throwing up treated with a noir filter).

The hopeless effort to make a universe from product placement is annoying enough. The shocking entry-level animation is shameful in a project from a major studio. The ability to pick up the worst bits of much better films is genuinely hurtful (the emojis share the same creepy devotion to the phone’s owner as the toys did to the despotic Andy in Toy Story).

But none of this premise-straining is quite so painful as the attempts to make sense of a wildly misplaced moral. As ever with such stories, the message is to do with being yourself and not worrying about fitting in. But uniformity is what makes emojis what they are. This is nonsense talk.

We should reluctantly admit that there are a few decent jokes. Emoticons are represented as senior citizens and . . . okay there is one decent joke. The rest of it is unmediated rubbish. Everybody else is making unimaginative cracks about it being worthy of five poop icons. We do the same. It doesn’t deserve even an original kicking.