I tried to like The Emoji Movie, I really did. I was prepared to ignore the awful press, the soulless premise and the cringeworthy advertisements and give it a go. But, ultimately, The Emoji Movie just has nothing to give.
It opens like the Disney version of an Apple Keynote (in the worst possible way), singing the praises of the modern smartphone, laden with that creepy feeling of cynical, faux-chummy marketing. What makes this tone even worse is its inconsistency throughout the movie – we’re bombarded by conflicting messages. At once told both about the wonders of a smartphone, and simultaneously lectured on the pitfalls of Facebook and social media.
We follow Gene, a ‘meh’ emoji who doesn’t fit in, and his attempts to escape the dystopian confines of the emoji society after he screws up his only job. He joins forces with Hi-Five, a high-five emoji (played by a depressingly uncharismatic James Corden) and the hacker Jailbreak to escape the oppressive emoji regime.
Having the meh emoji (and in a woefully unfunny subplot; his parents) as the main characters was a shockingly poor decision. The joke of their apathy, if it ever was funny, loses any comedic value after the second line delivered in that monotone voice. The hacker who acts as a sort of love interest for our meh hero is a ham-fisted attempt at jamming in feminism or any sort of social conscience – it’s as if it’s written by marketing executives who only understand feminism through the lens of a trending buzzword.
Everything the movie touches turns to ash – Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, once acclaimed veteran of the stage and the RSC, plays a ‘Poop’ emoji whose only lines in the film (this is no joke, trust me) are strictly related to toilet humour (if you can count Sir Patrick chanting “we’re number two” as humour). The whole affair is fuelled by laboured jokes that feel like they’re the result of a thirty minute ‘brainstorm’ by Sony’s interns. If you can in any way, shape or form avoid seeing this movie – please do.
Image: user Abbyarcane (via. Wiki Commons)