The Emoji Movie is basically Inside Out, except instead of taking place inside of an awkward teen’s head, it takes place inside of an awkward teen’s phone. Instead of sharing a universal story about the pain of growing up, it shares a universal story about the pain of having too many lame apps on your phone. Instead of featuring a melancholy voice performance by Richard Kind as a forgotten toy, it features an annoying voice performance from James Corden as a forgotten emoji. Instead of being really wise, funny, and sad, the Emoji Movie is dumb, stupid, and idiotic. Otherwise, it’s just like Inside Out.
Gene (voiced by T.J. Miller) is a Meh Emoji. He lives in Textopolis. His job is to look like he’s always meh but instead, he’s always full of emotion and positivity. His boss, Smiler (Maya Rudolph), says that Gene must be a malfunction and therefore, he has to be deleted. Gene says, “No, I must discover who I actually am!” With the help of the forgotten hand emoji, Hi-5 (that would be James Corden), Gene flees from app to app. (It’s kinda like The Lego Movie but not funny, touching, or clever.) They track down a hacker named Jailbreak (Anna Faris) and, at one point, they’re all rescued by a blue bird that comes flying over from the Twitter app. They’re all chased by a bunch of bots and I have to admit that I liked the bots just because they were trying to destroy Gene and Hi-5. Anything that would have ended James Corden’s lameass Ricky Gervais imitation would have been fine with me.
Nobody (or, at the very least, nobody who writes for this site) is as enthusiastic a capitalist as I am but the naked commercialism of The Emoji Movie really tested my patience. Essentially, it’s just an 86-minute advertisement with a vapid “Be yourself!” message tacked on. (If The Emoji Movie was sincere in its message of individuality, it wouldn’t celebrate the idea of people communicating exclusively in emoji.) Early on, when Gene and Hi-5 escaped into Candy Crush, I rolled my eyes. Later on, when an awed Gene said, “This is Spotify?”, I nearly threw a shoe at the TV.
(I did enjoy the scene where the Just Dance app got deleted, just because the dancer — who was voiced by Christina Aguilera — let out a terrifying scream as the app collapsed around her. I’ve always imagined that’s what happens whenever I delete anything.)
Usually, I try to force myself to come up with at least 500 words for every review that I write but the really does seem to be more effort than this movie deserves. (I was actually tempted to write this review exclusive in emoji but then I realized I was just be playing the movie’s game.) I will say this: children will like The Emoji Movie because children are stupid. Ask them again in five years and this will be their response: