If the The Emoji Movie sounds like a cynical Hollwood -grab dumpster seepage of an idea that deserves your ridicule sight-unseen, then congratulations. You’re thinking exactly like my 12-year-old, who could not stop making fun of its very existence after weeks of expensive marketing blitz aimed squarely at him.
Of that, he was all too .
When I picked the kids up from summer camp to head over to a screening across town this week, my son presented me with this (um, disturbing) work of art, which he’d spent his free-time making that afternoon in anticipation:
He and his sisters ages 9 and 6 were fully amped up for a rip-roaring -watch, having a great time being in the car, generally just being . What they didn’t know was that the circumstances around this film were setting up to make it so much worse than they could .
Sony rushed this idea into production because they won a bidding war for the pitch, and no one owns the underlying intellectual-property rights to emoji meaning any studio could’ve tried to cut them off at the pass. It’s telling that none did.
The two voice leads are TJ Miller and James Corden. TJ MILLER AND JAMES CORDEN, TALKING FOR AN ENTIRE MOVIE . Writer/director Tony Leondis has exactly zero recognizable credits to his name (unless you count direct-to-video sequel Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch).
There are so many reasons this thing should be
There are just so many reasons this thing should be .
But somehow, some way, it’s not.
It’s more … \_()_/?
The Emoji Movie has just enough clever ideas to squeak over the line of acceptable family entertainment, just enough jokes, or otherwise, to elicit a few laughs. Though it’s unfortunately the story of Meh (Miller) and his unsettlingly fleshy hand friend High-Five (Corden), the main female character, a hacker named Jailbreak (Anna Faris), has an arc that turns the worn-out princess story upside down in a way you won’t see coming. Her story is actually kind of a . Faris has the best line in the movie just her yelling “Mom!” that tells a lot of her story in a syllable and also gets the biggest laugh.
And the central theme a where-do-I-fit-in tale somewhere between Wreck it Ralph and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is sweet and builds to a message that feels earned: People who are different are our greatest gift. It’s almost like they had an idea for a story and fit emoji to it, not the other way around.
Guys. I can’t believe I’m saying this but … The Emoji Movie isn’t terrible.
You might even a little.
Don’t get me wrong: Hard though it tries to be, The Emoji Movie is no Lego Movie or Toy Story. The achievement here is its passable-ness; the fact that a collection of mercilessly mockable ideas can cohere into anything is the depths of its .
The hard LOLs are too few and far between; the villainous (“Smiler,” Maya Rudolph) is all-too-obvious; in-real-life action (a boy, Alex, trying to get the girl, Addie) is lifeless and utterly without stakes. The character of (Patrick Stewart, yes, that one) is can’t believe I’m saying this totally underused. (Maybe can get a spinoff? A fling-off? I’m sorry. I’m sorry.)
And the world inside Alex’s phone has some serious logic deficiencies that probably can’t be reconciled no matter how you write it, which is a good enough reason not to have made this movie in the first place. (Leondis had once considered having emoji come out into the real , but his producer made him stick to inside-the-phone, because all electronics, toys, and other amusements must have inner-lives now, stand by for The Fidget Spinner Movie).
Despite all this, we piled out of the theater in good spirits and with charitable toward a thing we were really looking forward to hating.
In that way, it sort of disappointed us, I suppose. Which in a way is too bad, because …
… they really, really wanted The Emoji Movie to be total shit.