I’ve been struggling to start my review of The Emoji Movie. It’s bad. It’s reeeaaaal bad. It’s so fucking bad. And I think that would probably be the cool way to approach it. You shouldn’t watch the The Emoji Movie because it’s shit. It’s a bad story, incredibly poorly told. It features some of the most grating and uncharismatic voice acting you’ve ever heard in one of these things. It is profoundly, profoundly unpleasant to look at for any long period of time. And despite the fact that it steals it’s every idea from a panoply of better movies not a single gram of their greatness rubs off onto it.
It’s unoriginal weak-ass trash. Y’all see, somewhere a few years ago some producer was looking for a project to take off the ground. Disney’s Wreck-it-Ralph had made bank a couple years ago, Warner had just released The Lego Movie to rave reviews and Inside Out had finally entered production, the script was available without looking too hard, and people were reportedly feeling pretty positive about it. Then this soulless husk of a human being had a realisation, emoji aren’t copyrightable, nobody owns Unicode so you don’t have to pay anything for the rights. Then he masturbated everywhere, content that the little idea he had just had would keep him in business for years.
I know this is true because if you pay enough attention the besuited masturbating businessman is hidden somewhere in every single frame of this joint. If you really focus on it very hard you’ll see most of the time he’s staring directly at you and laughing. Laughing that you are enough of a chump to line his pockets by seeing this crap.
Not that he really needs your business, all the business done in this joint was carried out years ago. More grey boardrooms full of people desperate to inject brands into pop-culture, we got major plot points here that reference twitter, facebook, youtube, dropbox, spotify, candy crush, a whole sequence with some shitty Just Dance app that nobody ever heard of. It’s frankly a surprise that phone all these hateful characters live on ain’t some Samsung Galaxy™ EX10 or something like that. Maybe someone decided that that would be a step too far, but then they didn’t for the rest of this bullshit. Nah, I don’t believe it, they were probably asking for too much.
The plot of this ridiculous turd, as far as it matters, is that Gene is an emoji who just don’t fit man, he got too many emotions, i.e. more than just one and that makes him an outcast. He teams up with a High Five emoji, jealous that he’s been replaced from the favourites bar by a black fist bump, not a great scene given how fucking white this movie is. Anyhow they break outta the texting app and go on a quixotic mission to upload themselves to the internet and fix their dreaded nonconformity.
Y’all can see how this ties into that just be yourself narrative that was all the rage about three years ago. Y’know when it was all fine and cool to devote a whole movie to telling the white boy protagonist that, just be yourself man and everything will work out fine. See most movies have caught onto the fact that intersectionality might be a thing and that some people in this world may in fact have a harder time by just being themselves. film don’t need that though, it got a cool, kick-ass, off-brand version of Wyldstyle just ready to spout off white-feminism 101 talking points unheeded as if that give any credibility to this being a social picture.
So now we in the real world and the kid who owns this phone notices it acting weird and decides to wipe it, so if the emojis don’t put things right, their whole world be destroyed. Now this boy also got his own thing going on, he crushing on a girl and the film contorts its way around to the ultimatum, dude can only get her attention by using the one perfect emoji. My fucking god it lame. For all the talk of feminism we get the film don’t actually manage to learn any of these lessons cause guess how many lines the object of his desire gets?
None. Of course she don’t get nothing to say because the film made by dudes in their fifties who just don’t fucking get it. You’ll notice this anytime the film tries to make a joke about technology or the internet. They all fucking flop. Goddamn, at one point they go to the ‘piracy app’ like fuck that’s a thing and then that whole sequence is just a wide array of jokes that don’t connect because none of them relate to anything close to reality. I’m certain that none of these people has ever used a P2P service in their lives, if they had at least they’d be able to come close to a functional gag.
More wasted than the gags though are the spaces that this film lazily tries to palm off to us. In literalising the spaces of a constructed world the filmmaker gets to take their own opinions and imbue the world with them. This an even greater power in the animated medium where the creators aren’t even limited by the frameworks of reality. See on our screens a website, let’s say youtube, is a working manual to its own operation. The very way the site is manipulates and guides our habits until youtube exists not within the videos or on the screen but in our very minds, dictating how we interact with it.
In creating a representation of these places, as The Emoji Movie gets carte blanche to do, it is irresponsible for them not to question the authorial intent of their design. To just accept that these things be the way they be is to propagandise the very states of mind that the developers of these apps wish to trap us in. That what the movie do. It is unthinkingly reverential to the brands it chooses to depict and that is a weak and pathetic way to go. The one exception is that piracy place, which it obviously hates, but doesn’t understand enough to properly condemn.
Look, I’m sure it must have been a lot working on this movie, I’m sure there were a lot of big egos contained within the office’s cum stained walls, but did no one have the courage to admit that the emoji’s themselves look repulsive? Cos they do. They look like hideous disgusting dump. They are certain to haunt my nightmares. Look at one too long and you’ll start to feel physically sick. It might be much, but the film fails on this one basic level, one of the earliest things you gotta get right. No wonder the rest all goes to fuck.
I usually mention people’s names in these reviews. I’m not gonna here, I think the stigma of being related to The Emoji Movie is embarrassment enough.
The Emoji Movie is currently screening in UK cinemas.