Friday, July 28, 2017

The Emoji Movie Review

The movie we've all been dreading for has arrived. Sony Pictures Animation Studio has brought Hollywood to an all-time low by making a movie based on emojis in our phone that we use to communicate with our friends. No one was excited for this movie based on that premise. The reaction on the internet was poisonous. And yeah, I was one feeding that negative fire. This just seemed like a bad idea, especially after the disaster that was last year's "The Angry Birds Movie," that somehow made a bunch of money, giving Sony the confidence moving forward with this movie. When the trailers for this movie finally arrived, I personally thought they were so bad that I was cringing through every second of them. The only thing that brought me joy was looking at the like/dislike ratio on YouTube and seeing that it was 80 percent dislikes, a ratio similar to that initial female "Ghostbusters" trailer or Rebecca Black's "Friday" song. It's great seeing the world unite against such a horrible Hollywood premise. For various reasons, I decided to bite the bullet and see this movie. Now that I've done so, I am here standing as a warning to all of you. We were all right. This movie IS just as bad as we all thought it would be. In fact, it somehow may have managed to be worse.

Welcome to the city of Textopolis. I wish I made that up. But I didn't. That's the actual name of our place in our movie. In Textopolis, the job of every emoji is to act the exact way that they are supposed to. If they are good enough to successfully express their emotion, they can earn a job at this fancy studio where they stand in a giant Hollywood Squares style box and be scanned when the owner of their phone decides to select an emoji to send. The conflict in the movie arises when Gene, the Meh emoji, doesn't want to be a Meh emoji. There's a whole range of other emotions that he wants to be able to express, but is forbidden. When he gets his Meh job anyways, the owner selects a Meh emoji to send and Gene panics and the wrong face is sent, which destroys our giant Hollywood Squares box and causes Gene to be labeled as a malfunction and ordered by the evil robots to be permanently erased. Not wanting to be erased, but promised by the rejected Hi-5 emoji that there was a hacker in the phone that could reprogram him, the two set out on a journey to find this hacker and set things right. Thus we have a painfully awful, disjointed adventure through just about every popular smartphone app riddled with an endless amount of smartphone jokes and references.

I'm just going to give all of you a fair warning. I'm going to spoil this movie. I'm not going to dive into every last detail or every plot point, but I'm going to speak liberally about the major aspects of this movie that bothered me the most and I'm not going to care about what point in the movie they happened. If you are one of the few people on earth that care about this, feel free to exit this review and come back later. But seriously. Who actually cares about this? I don't. And you shouldn't. That's why I don't care about spoiling the movie because no one should see this and no one should take their kids to see this movie because they might hate it, too. But I'll get into that a bit later. Yet if the current 3 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, the 1.5 on IMDb and my personal angry review does nothing to convince you that this movie is complete trash, I suppose you have the freedom of finding out for yourself. And who knows. Maybe you'll be the first person ever to find enjoyment out of this. If so, then more power to you. I'm glad you had a good time at the theaters. But if you end up as miserably horrified as the rest of us, don't say I didn't warn you. If your kids end up as restless, miserable and bored as the kids in my theater, at least I can say that I tried to prevent it.

Shall we carry on? Now if you read my plot description or watched the trailers and made the connection that this movie sounds like a bad ripoff of "Inside Out" and "Wreck-It Ralph," then you are exactly right. In "Inside Out" and "Wreck-It Ralph," we have central characters with a specific assignment or job who become unhappy with their role and end up on an adventure through the mind or the arcade that causes them to discover a sense of self-worth through a certain chain of events. Copy and paste those premises, but insert emojis, and you have "The Emoji Movie." The problem here is that both "Inside Out" and "Wreck-It Ralph" had likable characters, well-timed humor, a focused storyline and a whole lot of depth that resulted in the kids being entertained and the adults being blown away. There is not a single redeemable character and the talented cast of voice actors all sounded bored. The movie is criminally unfunny as every single joke in the movie lands wrong and becomes extremely awkward. The storyline is extremely erratic and unfocused as if the writers had an idea of 20 minutes of movie and somehow had to figure out how to extend it to 86 minutes. And there certainly isn't any depth to this embarrassing ripoff of a film.

When push comes to shove, the biggest reason why I hated this movie so much is that it just felt like the epitome of everything wrong with Hollywood right now. How many times have you heard people say that Hollywood has run out of ideas. In an effort to make money, every studio is trying to copy each other by coming up with the next best remake, adaptation or major franchise. And we've had so many crazy ideas that now we have scraped the bottom of the barrel by making a movie based on emojis? Seriously?!?! This is not a video game. This is not a comic book. This is not a board game. This is not even a smartphone game. This is a movie based on the messaging app in your phone and the inner workings of that app. I don't think it can get any more lame than that. And what's worse is that with everyone trying to setup their own cinematic universe after the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we now have Sony dipping to the lowest of lows by attempting to setup the Smartphone Cinematic Universe? I'm not even making that up. That seems like exactly what they were doing here with over half of their 86 minutes being spent wandering through various smartphone apps like Candy Crush, Just Dance, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram and Dropbox.

Can you imagine the brain-numbing consequences if this becomes successful? Do you want our summer lineup in the future to include "The Candy Crush Movie," "The Just Dance Movie," "The Spotify Movie" and others? The fact that we have "The Angry Birds Movie" and "The Emoji Movie" is bad enough. I don't want this cinematic universe to continue and I hope Sony gets the message that they should end this and come up with something intelligent. The fact that they took such an awful premise and attempted to setup an awful universe is bad enough. But on top of that the story they come up with is completely void of new or creative ideas. In theory, you can have a really dumb premise that works if you have creativity. A lot of people were pointing to "The LEGO Movie" as an example of this because there were a lot of people that thought a movie based on LEGOs sounded like the worst, but it ended up being fantastic due to the imagination and creativity. This movie has none of that. They just took the "Inside Out" script and replaced emotions with emoji, threw in a bunch of "Wreck-It Ralph" stuff and called it good. The movie follows practically every beat of those two movies, but in a horribly cringe-worthy way. I was in utter shock while watching.

Shall we dive into some specifics? Our main character Gene is barely worth caring about. And you know from the very start that he's going to be the one to save their phone once their owner decides that it's malfunctioning enough to go to the store shop and get it erased. He's going to follow the same arc as Sadness or Ralph and he does. To a "t." Then we have the absolutely hilarious James Corden voicing the sidekick Hi-5. I don't know how they did it, but they turned James Corden into the most annoying piece of trash that I ever seen in a movie. And I don't blame James Corden. I think he tried his best. But sometimes if you are given a piece of crap to work with, there's no much you can do with it. And speaking of piece of crap, Patrick Stewart literally voices the poop emoji. Luckily he was only a side character, but one poop joke from the trailer was bad enough. Poop jokes and puns happened throughout the movie whenever that character showed up and it was horrible. The smiley emoji was almost as annoying as the poop emoji and Hi-5 as she played the villain of the movie, which is one of the most predictable twists in this horribly predictable movie. I mean, I was literally predicting plot points with my friend the whole movie and we were right every time.

One example of my genius predictions was when they came to the firewall that was going to be the gateway to reprogram if they got past it. They spent like a minute guessing the passwords and getting burned over and over in the process. The whole time I was saying that the password is the girlfriend's name. Like, the owner of the phone's girl crush. Oh, and what do you know? Bingo! And how about that lovely transition to the romance in the film? Because, yes, it exists. Both outside the phone and inside the phone. The only storyline that we follow outside the phone is our phone owner trying to figure out how to ask this girl to the school dance. It was worthless. And of course we have this phenomenal message thanks to "The Emoji Movie" that the way to get the girl is not by talking to her, but through texts and emojis. But the worse love story is that of Gene the Meh and the princess. Because... SURPRISE... the hacker girl that Gene and Hi-5 are searching for is the princess emoji in disguise. She's ran away because she doesn't want to be a princess. She wants to do her own thing. So while we're travelling through all the apps, we are setting up a love story between Gene and the princess, whose name is Jailbreak? No words. Just pure shock and cringe.

Lest you think I'm being a grumpy old man by being super harsh on this kids movie, one of the main goals I had going in was to pay close attention to all the kids in the movie and see their reaction to this. Because even if the movie failed to entertain the adults in the audience and critics writing their reviews, if it ends up entertaining the young kids, then the movie has done its job. There's actually a "Hotel Transylvania" short film to start the movie off and that had the kids laughing hysterically. I payed close attention to that reaction and every time a joke landed in the real movie, I was waiting for the kids around me to react in a similar way to that short film. And it never happened. There was the occasional chuckle, especially when the butt and poop jokes happened, but the kids never laughed. A noticed a lot of them asleep in their chairs or yawning throughout the film. A lot of the younger ones got up and started wandering around, causing the parents to chase them. A lot of loud chatter. I've been around kids enough to when they are bored of a film and I have never sat in a theater where the kids that the movie was trying so hard to entertain were so bored and restless. When you can't even entertain your target audience of easily entertained 3-5 year old kids, that's embarrassing.

I could probably go one, but this review is long enough and I think you get the point. The only entertaining part of the movie was my friend next to me snapping pictures of my reactions to the film. I was in a constant state of pure disgust and horror throughout the film and those pictures do a great job of showing my reaction. Many of you have already seen them and if not, you can head over to my personal facebook and check them out. They sum up my feelings rather well. And it was also fun to sit there and make fun of how awful and predictable the film was. Normally I am a strong advocate of not talking and not using your phone while watching a movie in theaters, but this time I just didn't care and neither did anyone around us. This movie is flat out trash for kids and adults. Don't see it. You will hate it. Don't take your kids. They might hate it. Stay home and put on "Inside Out" or "Wreck-It Ralph." If your kid gets sad, then promise them a trip to see "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" in September because you don't want to waste your time and money with this. Whatever your grading scale is for movies, I'm going to confidently say that "The Emoji Movie" deserves the lowest score. For me personally, that score is a 1/10. And I rarely give that score out.

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