Gene: Welcome to the world inside your phone where everyone is expected to act one way their whole life.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
From the day it was announced, this movie has gotten the evil eye from audiences and critics alike. It was considered the lowest form of pandering for an animated movie as you could get. And when it came out, it lived up to those expectations and it has gone down of one of the worst in animation history.
The story takes place inside the world of a teenager’s smartphone where a city called Textopolis exists where all the emojis live. All the emojis have one facial expression except for Gene who has multiple expressions. With the help of his friend Hi-5 and a codebreaker named Jailbreak, Gene sets out to be a normal emoji.
The story blatantly rips off Inside Out with the Emojis’ connection to Alex and Wreck-It-Ralph with the huge world inside the device. However, the movie fails to comprehend what made the ideas in those movies so popular resulting in it being largely inferior to both. With Wreck-It-Ralph it was the idea of electronic components in the arcade all coming together and hanging out in a digital world. In Inside Out it was each emotion’s connection in shaping Riley as a person. However in ripping off Wreck-It-Ralph, it does so shamelessly to promote apps like Just Dance, Candy Crush, and Spotify. In regards to ripping off Inside Out, it’s executed in such a way that there’s no real connection to the emojis and the user of the phone, Alex. The message it’s trying to send about just being yourself is done in such an insulting way by pandering to its audience with its attempts to be with it with the lingo, the shameless promotion of phone apps, and the insult to its audience thinking they have no attention span and the assumption that all that goes on is one’s mind is cool lingo or a meme.
The animation is also lazy. When it comes to the character designs all the creators really did was take an emoji and give it a pair of arms and legs (with a few exceptions). The rest of digital world is nothing short of generic and it’s just a means to an end to show off the various apps as opposed to letting the viewer absorb the world. But in defense of the animation, it’s not given much to work with. The ideas of this movie are just so bad that there’s nothing that they could do to make this movie appealing.
This world is quite mean-spirited in trying to send its message. Just about everyone gives Gene a hard time because he is different. Gene himself is nothing more than your typical outcast who goes on an adventure to figure out his purpose. Hi-5 is nothing more than the comic relief. Smiler is just a generic villain trying to keep order. The only joke around Gene’s parents is that they don’t show any emotion. The real world character Alex doesn’t have much to him outside of asking the girl he likes out to the dance.
The Emoji Movie blatantly rips off other successful movies while horribly talking down to its audience. You feel every second of corporate pandering in the very existence of this movie. There is so much laziness in all of it. Movies like this give the world of animation a bad name as some view animated movies for kids and executives use that as an excuse to put less effort which results in movies like this.