Inside teenager, Alex’s, phone lives a whole computerized world where a messenger app is home to hundreds of Emoji’s. Gene is a “Meh Face” emoticon who finally gets his chance to be used in the phone, but he doesn’t quite fit the bill since, unlike everyone else, he has a great range of emotions. He is now in danger of being trashed in fear that his mistake will be seen as a phone malfunction resulting in them all getting erased. He teams up with High Five, a formerly popular emoji who wants to regain his high status, to find Jail Breaker, a female emoji hacker. And just typing that out, this movie sounds ridiculous.
With a technology world and a main character that desires to be more than what he was programmed to be, the movie appears to be of the Wreck-it-Ralph variety. But if done wrong it could end up more like the last product placement atrocity, Foodfight. Thankfully The Emoji Movie is not Foodfight terrible, but avoiding that low bar doesn’t say much.
“There’s a lot wrong with this movie, and I don’t know if there’s an easy way to fix it. There’s just no way to escape the fact that they are blatantly talking about Smart Phones and respective apps. If nothing else, The Lego Movie was based around a product that’s been around for a while now. ”
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The Emoji Movie desperately wants to be The Lego Movie, right down to the “guy on the run enlist the help of a tech-savy girl” to the forthright titles that are only one word different. After all, The Lego Movie was about as blatant as a product placement movie gets and yet despite all odds it pulled it off thanks to deeper metaphors and clever writing. The plot of The Emoji Movie isn’t new or original enough to rise above it’s subject matter. Much of it feels recycled from the previously mentioned films. Gene’s problem is understandable but one that has been seen before and better. High Five’s dilemma would seem identifiable but he’s a bit too entitled that it comes off as just selfish. So it doesn’t make much sense when Gene later decides he wants to stall the mission to risk his life saving him. The movie attempts to have a few soft moments between Gene and Jail Breaker but it just can’t escape the hackneyed feeling it produces. But honestly, criticizing the plot almost seems pointless.
There’s a lot wrong with this movie, and I don’t know if there’s an easy way to fix it. There’s just no way to escape the fact that they are blatantly talking about Smart Phones and respective apps. If nothing else, The Lego Movie was based on a product that’s been around for a while now. Emoji’s are still from the past decade so the whole movie just feels like it’s chasing a fad. Maybe if they tried to avoid product placement by using parody names for everything it might not have produced such an “off” feeling, but even then it would have to work very hard in all other aspects to come out on top. And as is, all its positive elements are just ok. It’s got some good clean animation, the occasionally clever visual, and the voice cast is all giving it their best effort, but sadly The Emoji Movie is one where any extra effort just feels like a waste.
It’s hard to say how it would have turned out if the movie had a smarter or self-aware script. This may have just been an idea that couldn’t have worked from the beginning because no matter how good it could have been, it will be dated in 3 years.
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Cameron Metrejean — an actor, writer and film critic who loves to review films through the lens of an actor.
Cameron Metrejean is a local actor, film critic, writer and jack of all trades. You will find him around town in front of the lens and behind.
He is a passionate cinephile with a unique voice forged through industry experience.
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