Director: Tony Leondis
Starring: T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Patrick Stewart, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara
Written by: Mike White, (also story) Tony Leondis and Eric Siegel
Running Time: 86 mins
Release date: 4th August 2017
Animation is going through a renaissance of late. The rise of Pixar, the return to form of Disney, Studio Ghibli still producing some outstanding work, even small independent films like My Life As A Courgette has taken the animated form to new pastures. While these have not only been great movies, they have been great story telling too. Alas, the message hasn’t got through to Columbia Picture and Sony Animation Studios because they have managed, in one fell swoop, to take the art of animation backwards by several years with The Emoji Movie, a film lacking in any charm, wit or invention, that relies on the most basic of computer generated animation and is keen to spend its time being nothing more but an extended advert for apps for your phone.
Meh is an emoji who sits in a boy’s phone and he dreams of becoming the best at his job. The only problem, Meh cannot keep his own facial expression and so one day, when he is chosen for a text message, he messes up, almost destroying the whole of Textopolis. Angering the emoji council, led by Smiler, Meh has to escape into the wallpaper to be reprogrammed. With the help of Hi-5 and Jailbreaker, they must reach the cloud before Smiler’s robots catch them and delete them forever.
Let’s start with the good points! There are no good points!
This looks like it longs to be The Lego Movie, yet it doesn’t have an ounce of surreal humour in its body. It then swiftly turns into a wannabe Inside Out, only without the wit, the emotional content and the intelligence. In fact, the moment there was a sentimental sequence, in which Meh realises that he can be whatever he wants to be (and that’s not a spoiler. You can see that coming a mile off) I gave out a verbal “Jeez!”
This whole film plays constantly for the lowest common denominator. It suggests that all kids, and I do mean ALL kids, cannot live without a phone and that all they do is send emojis as if writing a text message has become a thing of the past. They even suggest that kids favourite place to “hang out” is a phone shop!
We then get the “journey” that Meh and his friends take, bouncing from one app to another. So one moment they are in Instagram, then they go to Spotify and so on. Yep, this is the opportunity for plenty of product placements. In fact, this might as well been a 90-minute advert for apps. The most surprising thing was that they didn’t try and sell their Sony phones!
Finally, the voice talent is completely wasted. As you listen to the likes of James Cordon and T.J.Miller, you immediately think, is this going to help their careers? Or has this just paid for a conservatory or a house in Malibu? Worse culprit is Sir Patrick Stewart who lends his voice to the character of the Poop emoji, only there for a string of woefully unfunny poo puns “We’re number two!” One of our great theatrical giants has just let himself and us down massively.
The Emoji Movie is horrible! There is no other word to describe it. It has nothing to merit it whatsoever and for 90 minutes, this gaudy, annoying and pathetic excuse for a movie just leaves you feeling that family entertainment has just been pushed in the mud and trampled over. If there is one film you must avoid this year, it’s this!