Review: The Emoji Movie – The Emoji Movie (2017)

The Emoji Movie – The Emoji Movie (2017)

Directed by: Tony Leondis | 86 minutes | animation, adventure, comedy, family, science fiction | Dutch voice cast: Arjen Lubach, Jandino Asporaat, Bracha van Doesburgh, Jelka van Houten, Roman Derwig, Patty Brard, Boris van der Ham, Bibi Breijman, Cees Geel | Original voice cast: TJ Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Patrick Stewart, Christina Aguilera, Sofía Vergara, Rachael Ray, Sean Hayes, Jake T. Austin, Tati Gabrielle, Jude Kouyate, Jeffery Ross, Hunter March, Tony Leondis, Melissa Sturm

Who doesn’t use them? Emojis: pictures to express thoughts and often the source of confusion (is it a zucchini or something else?). In that tradition, ‘The Emoji Movie’ continues effortlessly, because sometimes the film variant is also difficult to tie up.
The story is about Gene, the meh or mwah emoji. Gene should be expressing indifference, but turns out to have a whole palette of emotions in the house. The mobile in which these Emojis live cannot handle that and so a story follows in which Gene embarks on the adventure while all kinds of external threats come at him. If this seems too basic a description of the film, then it is correct. It is quite difficult to discover a line in the whole.

Gene goes out with Hi5 and Hackie, two other Emojis who carry their own problems with them. For example, Hi5 has trouble with its declining popularity and Hackie wants to escape to the Cloud. All this during a kind of road trip through the mobile of an adolescent Alex, who again has his own storyline. In short: there is enough happening and that is exactly the problem. No motif lasts long enough to become compelling and it is also difficult to recognize the real plot problem. Is it about Gene learning something? Should the entire Emoji community evolve? Does love have to win?

The makers of ‘The Emoji Movie’ have put a lot of time into creating a compelling film world. They all live in Textopolis, which is within the messaging app. In addition to that app, there are others such as Candy Crush, Dropbox and Youtube. Admittedly, there are quite funny finds among them, but that remains at an abstraction level of which the young viewer does not get much. And these finds contribute little to nothing to the plot development. They are nice gimmicks but nothing more than that. The attention that apparently went massively to the form of the film could have been better focused on the content. How do we tell a compelling story with funny useful scenes?

It seems as if the makers were inspired by Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’, only this is not set in an adolescent’s head but in his phone. People could make all kinds of socially critical observations about this, but it does not seem that this is the intention of the makers. It just feels more like cheap, lazy, uninspired stealing that is sometimes, very sometimes funny. Post your poo emoji here.

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