“The Emoji Movie” defies all sense, reasoning

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Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

What emoji best exemplifies the existential dread I feel after forcing myself to watch “The Emoji Movie?”

Gene (T.J. Miller) is an emoji whose inability to stick to one single emotion causes contention in the emoji community he lives in. When the leader of the text center Smiler (Maya Rudolph) orders the termination of Gene on the basis of his malfunction he escapes seeking a hacker named Jailbreak (Anna Faris) who can access the code that will allow him to become a the emoji he was originally designed to be. A rapid race against time begins as Gene, Jailbreak and Hi-5 (James Corden) travel through several apps in the hope they will reach the cloud.

Anyone aware of the release of “The Emoji Movie” would have assumed its greatest fault would be how senselessly it would pander to children, but I haven’t watched a film in a long time that hates the things kid’s enjoy more than “The Emoji Movie” does. This film spends its first ten minutes with horribly written narration about how the emojis carry out their everyday lives in their home of Textopolis. In this sequence this film gets in about ten sarcastic licks that pretty much convey that whatever angsty, cynical grandpa who wrote this movie despises technology and young people’s fascination in it.

“The Emoji Movie” doesn’t know if it’s an over-glorified advertisement for unknown and forgotten apps, or a thinkpiece on how tech-obsessed millennials are. This entire mess of a film is written and directed by Tony Leondis who is clearly unhappy that not enough people liked his last movie “Igor.” That or he just wishes his nephew would hang out with him instead of texting all his friends. Please, please Bradley, hang out with uncle Tony before he makes a sequel.

Other than the film’s tattered and misshapen plot which fails to actually convey a meaningful narrative and thematic sentiment that isn’t trying to actively insult its target audience, the other elements of “The Emoji Movie” also spectacularly fail. Every character is an annoyance and then made even worse when you realize the impressive talents behind them all that don’t deserve to be thrust into a movie so terrible. The only cast member who actually deserves to be in this movie due to his lack of talent is James Corden, whose character is literally just an open palm with a face on it. The film makes deliberate time to make a joke about how his popularity has dwindled in favor of the fist bump emoji. Which truly can’t read as anything a tasteless racial joke, not to mention there are a few jokes about the character who is a hand being a part of unmentionable acts. Yes, in a kids film.

That’s the central question of “The Emoji Movie” though. Is this film for kids? It seems to be attempting to pander them throwing in really dumb and banal references to Rihanna and Christina Aguilera that feel less like the decision of a trendy young writer who understands the youth and more thousands of old guys in suits smoking cigars who speak like carnival barkers.

“The Emoji Movie” is a dismal experience. The film’s incessant desire to advertise and pander to children while simultaneously insulting them and their interests makes for an experience that literally breaks the mind. Despite its colorful and beautiful animation every other element of “The Emoji Movie” kills it as soon as the opening credits begin. Writing so bad it made me yearn to watch “The Waterboy,” character designs that lack any inspiration whatsoever and a Candy Crush segment so long you’ll wonder if 10 years have passed. I almost want to remove my phone’s battery in the hope it kills the annoying emoji living inside.

Rating: 0/5 stars