Film Review: The Emoji Movie

Frances Winston feels that The Emoji Movie is pretty standard fare for kids, who seemed to love the film, but parents may be annoyed at the in-your-face promotion of apps throughout

Directed by: Tony Leondis – Starring the voices of: T. J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofía Vergara, Sean Hayes, Patrick Stewart

I don’t claim to have much in the way of psychic ability, but I’m predicting that before you even stumbled upon my review you were already aware of this film, thanks to reports of its Rotten Tomatoes rating over the past few weeks.

I’m not going to lie, in light of those I was somewhat apprehensive going to see this, but I believe in giving things a chance. And you know what, it’s not as bad as it has been painted in some circles.

The story is pretty standard kids fare, with messages about friendship, loyalty, and being yourself peppered throughout. Gene (Miller) is supposed to be a “Meh” emoji, but finds he can make different expressions, which causes all sorts of problems.

About to be deleted, he flees Textopolis, and encounters Hi-5 (Corden), a once hugely popular emoji who has fallen out of favour. Together, they work their way through the phone and the various apps, searching for a hacker to help fix Gene’s expression issues, and restore Hi-5 to favour.

As I said, it’s a pretty simple concept. And it is colourful and fun on the whole. There is nothing new here. You’ve seen the same characters before in different formats, but every child at the screening I attended loved it. While some of the emojis prove more engaging than others on screen (bearing in mind that they are usually inanimate) overall, the interpretations of them work well.

However, there is a huge amount of marketing in this. Shamelessly so. Apps are referred to, displayed or promoted every few minutes or so, and I did find myself wondering about just how long it took to sort out all the licensing and deals this entails. No doubt this will heavily influence younger audience members.

And I also wasn’t quite sure they would understand jargon about Trojan Horse viruses and malware (because, let’s face it, many adults don’t know what the hell they are). While for me this is a grumble, I’m sure some parents will be annoyed at this in-your-face promotion targeting their LOs. However, for many others it will be a mild irritation.

This isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, or indeed do anything new. But it is engaging enough to keep the mini-me’s entertained for its 86 minute running time. It is not the best or the cleverest animated movie ever made, but it is not as bad as you may have been led to believe.

And as we come to the end of the summer holidays, it basically could equate to an afternoon of peace for frazzled parents. Without trying to sound like I’m sitting on the fence, I would say give it a chance. After all, it can never be as bad as Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill, which, in my opinion, is the worst movie ever made.

In Cinemas Now!

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The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
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