Starring: T.J. Miller, Anna Faris, James Corden
Director: Tony Leondis
Running Time: 86 mins
The Emoji Movie is an American film about Gene, a ‘meh’ emoji who can pull more than one face, who ends up going on a journey of self-discovery after he is chased out of his home of Textopolis by the community of single-expressioned emojis.
I didn’t mind The Emoji Movie. It’s not a brilliant film, nor is it anywhere near as funny as it thinks it is, but it’s a vibrant, upbeat and light-hearted family adventure that put a big smile on my face. Yes, it may be a generic family movie, and some of its painfully blatant product placement is a real downer, but when it’s on form, it can be a genuinely entertaining watch.
If there’s anything that I really liked about this film, it’s how bright it is. Its generic ‘be who you truly are’ message doesn’t feel all that emotional in practice, but set against a vibrant visual pallette and a few imaginative takes on the world inside the smartphone, it does make for a lot of entertaining sequences, and above all visuals that will easily make you smile.
Another plus comes from the film’s pacing, which is both consistent and rapid-moving enough to keep you interested throughout. Too often do kids’ adventure movies set out on a story that has only one end goal, and as a result feels like a 90 minute slog to get to the eventual happy ending (I’m looking at you, Trolls), but The Emoji Movie manages to keep things interesting by jumping between different scenarios (and I’m sure ultimately video game levels) that break the story up well, helping to keep the energy in the plot that would have otherwise been dissipated within seconds.
Also, the voice performances are pretty entertaining. I can’t say that the film’s characters are written all that well, but the likes of T.J. Miller and Anna Faris put in bright and smiley voice performances that keep the light-hearted and fun-loving vibes strong throughout the movie, while a few supporting characters, including Maya Rudolph as Smiler, and Stephen Wright and Jennifer Coolidge as the ‘meh’ parents, do a great job as their respective generic characters.
However, I don’t want to get carried away praising The Emoji Movie, because it’s still full of problems that prevent it from being a properly entertaining family movie. It’s nowhere near on the level of The Lego Movie like it wants to be, given its very thin story, but it still struggles to be a properly funny and entertaining movie anyway.
Above all, the comedy really isn’t that great. Although I chuckled a good few times, and the film’s vibrant atmosphere helped to make things more fun, The Emoji Movie very rarely makes for hilarious laughs, falling flat in a huge proportion of its many, many jokes, and even often creating cringeworthy silences where you should be laughing.
Also, and rather unfortunately, it’s filled to the brim with product placement. The film already starts off on the wrong foot by suggesting that smartphones are the only thing that children ever look at nowadays, but then it goes the whole hog and starts shoving adverts for various apps and technologies in your face, and not in a cleverly satirical way that would have been acceptable.
So, when the characters land in the Candy Crush app and the game’s logo is thrust in front of you, or when the Twitter logo itself comes flying down to save the day, you know things are just a little too much, and that really disappointed me, given how well the film does as a simple, lightweight family comedy.
Overall, however, I did enjoy The Emoji Movie. It’s not a perfect film by any means, and definitely isn’t as funny or heartfelt as it thinks it is, but it’s by no means an awful movie, thanks to a vibrant, energetic and fast-paced atmosphere that should put a smile on your face and give you 86 minutes of simple family fun, which is why I’m giving it a 7.0.