Review: The Emoji Movie | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Review: The Emoji Movie

Film Editor John James clues us in on just how terrible The Emoji Movie is

I saw this film alone. Alone on a damp August morning I saw it all; I saw Christmas trees talking to faeces, I saw a fat hand gorging himself, I saw Textopolis in all its shimmering malevolence and there amongst the flames and the smoking embers of human potential, I saw the ‘Emoji Bop’. And they saw me. Dozens of parents staring slack jawed at this odd man sitting amongst their children, their incriminating glares raked over me throughout this hour and a half ordeal, but I sat firm upon my moral high ground. After all, they were indoctrinating their children (THEIR OWN CHILDREN) with this s**t.

This film cannot just be passed off as a silly kid’s film, they will speak of this film in centuries to come as the turning point in human progress, where foot met mouth again and we returned to the caves. It cannot be a case of critiquing this film, rather aggressively hounding it to the far reaches of human taste and decency if not for your sake but that of your children and the world they’ll inherit.  

It cannot be a case of critiquing this film, rather aggressively hounding it to the far reaches of human taste
Let’s get into it, shall we? I haven’t researched the director or the producer as I can only assume it was devised by a committee in the seventh level of hell, and it really doesn’t matter anyway unless we eventually want to prosecute them for producing it. It begins on a preachy monologue as the aptly named Gene (he’s a rare changing emoji that glitches WOW) attempts to justify the importance and wonder of the smartphone and the emojis that inhabit it. There is nothing poetic here, just the films obnoxious proclamation that its premise is cool and relevant, and who are we to argue? We paid a fiver to see it. A blatant copy of Pixar’s Inside Out, the film juxtaposes its torturous plot across the LED, primary colour nightmare of the smartphone and its awful owner’s (a teenage boy called Max but does it really matter?) attempts to fix the glitch. Where Inside Out was immersive and realistic within its own world The Emoji Movie is stupid and confusing. Emojis work in a big building where their job is to pose when needed then scanned onto text messages, thus the film seemingly presents a separation between appearance and personality. Only it doesn’t. All the characters minus Gene strut around in their unfunny stereotypes (the Christmas tree dances, the shrimp yells that he wants to get on the BBQ...) doing nothing.

There is nothing poetic here, just the films obnoxious proclamation that its premise is cool and relevant, and who are we to argue?
As in nothing.

I’m not expecting world building or ‘The Emoji Code’ but seriously how does this world work. Stop thinking, look here’s two poo emojis chanting ‘We’re number two! We’re number 2!’. There, now you’re entertained, aren’t you? Every joke in the film is based on the idea of two conflicting emojis doing something together. Who thought that was a good idea? The rigidness of the emoji's characterization doesn’t just ruin any humour but also the emotional ‘tugs’ (desperate clawings for substance) that the film attempts to crowbar in. A side plot revolves around Gene’s parents, the two ‘meh’ emojis struggles in their marriage is strangled of even the shallowest depths that these trashy films sometimes achieve by its own stupid concept. But it seems odd to rationalise the reasons why this film is bad, not when there so much to instinctively hate. Like James Corden’s hand. Yes, James Corden is in this; playing the deliciously ironic role of a chubby high five who fallen from grace, is on a desperate quest to boost his profile and receive his god given share of empty gratification from the user. He isn’t the worst part of the film, that’s its existence, but he runs it very close with his shrill intrusive voice delivering many of the films worst lines (‘Yeahh baby! Do the finger dance!’) and there are lots to choose from.   

James Corden isn’t the worst part of the film, that’s its existence, but he runs it very close.
The film is arrogant enough to cram not one but three offensive morals into it, and so in its own spirit of tasteless excess let’s break down each one. The first is that Gene should embrace his individuality, to appreciate his glitch for what it makes him, not what it doesn’t. Which would be fine if we remotely cared about him. Which we don’t. Is this the protagonist's struggle we’ve been reduced to? Is this the hero's journey? Now maybe I just have a heart of stone, but please forgive me if I can’t summon any empathic identification with Gene’s wish to be a ‘working emoji’. Meanwhile JailBreak, the film's obligatory love interest and heroine is given the latest ridiculous message in Hollywood’s spewing back catalogue of PC-ness for the sake of PC-ness. A capable hacker, she yearns to escape to ‘The Cloud’ where she’ll be free of the objectification that being a female emoticon bears (‘Did you know in the first emoji update you could only be a dancer or a princess!’). Yes, there is a problem (if we’re going to give in and admit emojis matter) with female and ethnic representation across the ‘emojisphere’ that has been continually rectified since their insidious conception. But surely a better way to address it is to display capable and charismatic female characters who are so without the condescending ‘GIRL POWER’ tag that they just can’t help stitching on. Oh well, progress is clearly just screams in the dark now.

The film is arrogant enough to cram not one but three offensive morals into it

Finally Max, our user, spends the film courting his beloved Addie, not helped mind by the repeated malfunctions of his meddling phone aha! He just can’t seem to connect to her, but maybe he’s trying in the wrong ways. ‘What shall I say to her dude?’ he asks his friend. ‘Nothing dude’ dribbles his friend ‘Send her an emoji, words are stupid’. Yes, I suppose they are. Words can only go so far, the monkey with his hands over his eyes, he’s universal. He eventually wins her when Gene comes through and sends her a ‘super cool emoji’ that illustrates to this vapid cultural troglodyte that he’s ‘one of those guys who can express his feelings’. And that’s it, that this film has the audacity to present its subject matter as anything other than the antithesis of positive, intimate and individually devised emotion and expression is monumentally offensive. We could take this film as a joke, we could imagine that the filmmakers are in on it. That it’s a satirical play on the unholy cultural apocalypse that surely awaits us. But are some things to dangerous to joke about?

Verdict: This review isn’t necessary, none of you were intending to watch this, this won’t be a success. We didn’t ask for this, so don’t watch it.

Rating: N/A

Tinged with tragedy, touched by greatness.



Published

5th August 2017 at 9:00 am



Images from

Sony



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