It's never a good sign when Adam Sandler serves up a better cinematic endeavor than your main feature, but such is the case with The Emoji Movie, a repulsive effort made only slightly better by the presence of the preceding short film Puppy!, a Hotel Transylvania-themed short that entertains far more greatly than the 90-minute cinematic load of crap that follows it.
Let's be honest. You're expecting, if you've ever been around a movie theater at all, The Emoji Movie to be an almost epic disaster, Razzie nominee so bad that it may actually be fun to see just how bad it really is. There are certain films that we watch just because they have the word "disaster" written all over them from day one.
The Emoji Movie is such a film.
I refuse to believe that at any point a group of high-powered movie exects sat down in a boardroom and thought to themselves "The Emoji Movie? What a fantastic idea!" I refuse to believe that once the film was finished that even a single exec sat in that same boardroom thinking "By God, we've got ourselves the year's best animated feature!"
It just didn't happen.
The odds are much stronger that the misguided souls who greenlighted this project sat in that same boardroom going "How can we minimize our losses?" "How can we market a film that a two-year-old is smart enough to figure out it sucks?"
I picture the film's otherwise talented vocal cast showing up to the film's world premiere and burying their heads in shame until they realize they made pretty good money for very little effort.
A few months from now, the only people who will remember The Emoji Movie will be Razzie voters.
Yes, it's really that bad.
The film takes place in Textopolis, please note I'm already groaning, the land where all Emoji to be found live together in relative peace. T.J. Miller is Gene, a multi-functional emoji who should express just one emotional but botches his first day on the job and ends up massively over-expressing himself and making young Alex incredibly unhappy. Risking deletion, Gene goes on the run with Hi-5 (James Corden) and a wild faux feminist called Jailbreak (Anna Faris) in an effort to reach the Dropbox and find The Cloud. " The Emoji Movie doesn't quite rip-off Inside Out and Toy Story, though it's unimaginative story and insipid dialogue are just close enough that you will be fondly remembering those vastly superior films during The Emoji Movie's 86-minute running time.
To call The Emoji Movie a massive disappointment would imply that one had hopes it might be something more. Perhaps most closely related to The Lego Movie, The Emoji Movie is completely devoid of that film's intelligence, wit and even emotional resonance. There's really nothing here to cling to, the film's product placement, such as Crackle, Dropbox and Spotify among others, takes the place of anything resembling a cohesive story and any items at creative vocal work fall far short of the film's immensely talented but poorly utilized vocal cast.
It's a complete shame to see such a talented comic actress as Anna Faris, whose career has been on the backburner as of late as she parents Jack and hubby Chris Pratt conquers the world, be stuck in such drivel when she's capable of so much more.Even Faris's dialogue, all girl power and bravado, ultimately is empty as Jailbreak compromises her well intended life lessons anytime the semblance of a story dictates it.
Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge, as Gene's Meh parents, practically drag the proceedings to a halt with their slow, intentional delivery that feels woefully out of place here. While one could speak volumes about T.J. Miller's underwhelming work here, the film's most egregious mishap, which I'm hoping at least paid some bills, is Patrick Stewart's fortunately brief appearance as, yes, the Poop Emoji.
Sigh. Just sigh.
In a world where Michael Bay sells millions of tickets to cinematic shlock, my worst fear is that well meaning parents desperate for a couple hours of cinematic quality time with the kiddoes will mistakenly believe this to be worth their attention. It's not. No one beyond the smallest of children should be entertained by this shameless money grab that fails in virtually every way.
Do yourself a favor. Delete The Emoji Movie from your moviegoing plans.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic