Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review: "The Emoji Movie" is nothing more than fluffy cuteness

The Emoji Movie Review

In a world where everybody has a cell phone seemingly attached to their wrist, I suppose it was a matter of time before we started seeing movies about them. I figured one of the easiest, most accessible ways to communicate smartphones and cell phones was through animation. But just because there is a logical choice at hand, doesn't automatically make it the right choice. I know that may sound weird, but I hope it makes more sense as you read on.

Emoji's are just a weird, lazy way to communicate with others through our cell phones. They don't exist in a fantasy land. There is no story behind them. They are not based off of anything. They exist merely to help us show emotions, feelings and communication. That is their sole purpose. In that regard, making a movie about cell phone emojis couldn't have been an easy feat. How do you make a feature length movie about something that are just lazy ways we talk to each other? The idea of an emoji is a silly, lame concept. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they spawned a silly, lame movie.

First of all, making an emoji movie and selling it to kids seems like a strange idea, creatively. I work at a daycare. Most of the target audience for this movie is full of people who couldn't tell you what an emoji is. Except perhaps, the poop emoji, which for some reason has become popular. But most four and five years old children are not using cell phones, so why try and sell them something they don't understand. For most of the film's running time they will not understand that the movie literally takes place in a smartphone. They won't understand the purpose of the emoji. They will just see bright yellow things walking around, floating and talking without any idea the point of the story or why there is a major crisis of any kind. Sure, kids are getting cell phones younger and younger, but they are texting people. They certainly are not sending emojis to people. At most, they are playing video games and that's it.

Second of all, Sony made a movie targeting an audience that doesn't understand the essence or the culture behind emoji's and they just made a typical Disney movie. We follow Gene, voiced by T.J. Miller, who is growing up to be a "meh" emoji. When he is ready, he is going to sit in a cubicle (hardy har har) and when his owner picks his emoji, he makes a "meh" face so his owner can send it. Gene's family doesn't believe he is ready, and honestly he isn't. At first, he nearly destroys all the emojis in his owner's cell phone. He faces destruction for his malfunction, but goes and tries to prove that he really can be a true emoji. Sweet. Heartwarming. Unoriginal. I guess that was their only hope of selling this movie? Just take the regular Disney template and apply it to cell phone animations. It doesn't help that their idea of humor is safe and unimaginative from the start. (Oh, let's pretend that the Poop Emoji is going to say shit but then cut away to a different "sh" word before he does!) Sony couldn't have done more to show me that what I was watching was just another Hollywood animated movie.

The movie barely ties the emojis to the cell phone in any significant way. The movie doesn't use each character in a clever way. Its just taking one specific emoji, then giving them the easiest of easy jokes as personality. This is the least developed, least interesting animated movie I have seen in a long time. With talent like James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Patrick Stewart, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara and Rob Riggle. I could hardly believe they all signed on to do this. It would have been better if this was targeted towards adults. I am not saying make a raunchy film like "Sausage Party," but since cell phones are used by so many adults worldwide and so many send emoji's daily, why not make a movie about that? If this was geared towards the right audience, perhaps it could have worked. But this just another familiar kids movie, lacking in imagination and emotion.


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