Visit MaineToday's profile on Pinterest.

About The Author

mainetoday

Wire Services

Send an email | Read more from Wire







Posted: July 31, 2017

‘Emoji Movie’ could not be more meh

Written by: Wire Services
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Alex, voiced by Jake T. Austin, in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation's "The Emoji Movie." Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation via AP

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Alex, voiced by Jake T. Austin, in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s “The Emoji Movie.” Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation via AP

“Words aren’t cool,” is the courtship advice imparted by one texting teen to another in “The Emoji Movie.” That statement is the canary in the coal mine that “Cyrano de Bergerac” this movie is most decidedly not. Will Alex (Jake T. Austin) choose the right emoji to express his ardor for Addie (Tati Gabrielle)? Or will “meh” emoji Gene (T.J. Miller) mess it all up for him? Perhaps we should just throw our smart phones into the sea and let the waves take us now.

Watch the trailer:

“The Emoji Movie” is an easy, cheap target for abuse. The marketing campaign has centered around a chocolatey brown you-know-what named “Poop” (voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart), adorning our bus shelters and billboards, for crying out loud. If we are trolled in this way, the only answer is to troll right back. And the truth is that “The Emoji Movie” is exactly what you expect: There’s no need to wait and see if it surprises, if maybe it’s potentially great. Nope, it’s a perfect reflection of its main character – meh.

If you were to imagine the story told by “The Emoji Movie,” it’s likely this would be the one you’d dream up. It’s just that obvious. When malfunctioning “meh” emoji Gene starts a glitch in Alex’s phone, he goes on an odyssey from app to app, hoping to reprogram himself to only express one emotion, the way emojis should. But, of course, what makes him different, his “malfunction,” is what makes him unique. On his journey, he makes new friends, falls in love, learns to accept himself, and manages to become a new, more evolved emoji, expressing a multitude of emotions at once.

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Smiler, voiced by Maya Rudolph, in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation's "The Emoji Movie." Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation via AP

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Smiler, voiced by Maya Rudolph, in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s “The Emoji Movie.” Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation via AP

Director Tony Leondis co-wrote the script along with Eric Siegel, and surprisingly, Mike White (“School of Rock”) is also credited. But for a film that wants to imagine the world inside smart phones, this story just feels so unimaginative and low-stakes. It’s tied too closely to the way we use smart phones to create a transporting, wild new world. Every step of the journey is to prevent Alex from restoring the phone to factory settings, destroying the world of Textopolis, where emojis live. But there’s no explanation as to why the emojis can’t just come back, if it’s all digital detritus. Therefore, it’s hard to care at all about whether or not Gene can consistently make a “meh” face and if he’ll be eaten by anti-virus bots.

There aren’t any real jokes, and most laughs come from app recognition – Candy Crush, the Twitter bird, and look, now they’re taking a row boat on the “music streams” of Spotify. It’s truly just “Intellectual Property: The Movie.” If we’re laughing at simple brand recognition, then yes, it’s true, words aren’t cool anymore, and smart phones have made us dumb.

“The Emoji Movie” isn’t terrible, it isn’t offensive or outright bad. It just is, and there could be far worse ways to spend 86 minutes. But maybe, just maybe, it’d be the better choice to spend those 86 minutes outside, or reading a book, or talking to another human being’s face. Because “The Emoji Movie” could not be more meh.

‘THE EMOJI MOVIE’

1 out of 4 stars
Cast: T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Sir Patrick Stewart, Maya Rudolph
Directed by Tony Leondis
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes
Rated PG for rude humor.


MOVIES & SHOWTIMES

Up Next: