A Project for Better Journalism chapter

‘The Emoji Movie’: a romanticized advertisement

Pictures have been an integral part of society for centuries. Humans have used them for communication before the creation of the writing system. Then, the emojis came. Humans evolved into using emojis to express emotions, which has permeated the movie industry.
Sony Pictures Amimation released “The Emoji Movie,” which is centered on a world in the midst of a change in communication- which is glorified and romanticized for 91 minutes.

“The Emoji Movie” follows a “meh” emoji known as Gene (TJ Miller). Gene is unable to remain a “meh” emoji, and is able to make different emoji expressions, which makes him insufficient at his new job as an emoji.

Alex is the user of the phone- he is a freshman in high school, the subject of the underdeveloped subplot. Alex can’t find the right words to express his feelings to his crush. The “plot” accelerates when Gene does not make a “meh” expression in a vital confession to Alex’s crush.

He decides to go on an adventure with a high five emoji named Hi-5 (James Corden) to get fixed by a hacker known as Jailbreak (Anna Faris) so that he can be a “meh” emoji forever. The trio runs through blatant advertisements for apps for the sole purpose of advancing a plot that should not have been conceived in the first place.

The movie was a disappointment in all aspects. Tony Leondis created a poorly made and rushed script, that relied heavily on defining elements of well-known animated films such as “The Lego Movie”.

The focus around an average character and bringing them on a great adventure with an edgy, punk, emo female protagonist was a central idea in “The Lego Movie.” Gene is a mirror image of Emmet in terms of their character trope. Meanwhile, Jailbreak is a parallel of Wyldstyle. Jailbreak, however, fails to implement a feminist angle of the movie as effectively as Wyldstyle and to develop a likable character.

The themes communicated through the movie are questionable at best. It appears as though the film disregards the target audience- children. The setup comprises of toxic ideologies on the importance of popularity on social media and obeying to social norms. The ending was ten minutes of pure contradiction and hypocrisy.

While messages on popularity and obeying social norms to be liked is a reality, it is not a truth that should be conveyed through a kids movie. In the end, there was no real negation of this theme. It is simply stated, leaving young children to believe that allowing yourself to be overtaken by an obsessive desire to be revered on social media is normal and acceptable.

The comedy in this film was potty-humor and forgettable punchlines, which was insulting to the intelligence of children. A majority of the 91-minute runtime of this movie was me waiting for a chuckle to arise from a joke. It never came.

There is one aspect that makes “The Emoji Movie” far worse than just a “bad movie” is clear advertising. The movie is ridiculously commercialized, padding the runtime with a barrage of advertisements. As the movie progresses, it dawns on people that there is no difference between an advertisement and “The Emoji Movie.” Both are shallow, fake, and push a corporate agenda. This is an unethical use of corporate power, swaying a gullible audience with a movie for a clean sweep for money.

Unsurprisingly, the $50 million budget prevented the film from achieving serviceable animation. The diverse character designs cannot be attributed to the originality of the animators, but rather the work of software designers. The simplicity of the world would appear cute, but it’s abundantly clear that it was an attempt to minimize the cost of animation. The color palette was unnecessarily vibrant, migraine-inducing, and eye-watering. It was almost as if the movie silently begging viewers to turn away due to the garish displays of color.

“The Emoji Movie” is another blemish added to the reputation of Sony Pictures Animation, a company whose past is tarnished by many poor quality animated movies such as “The Smurfs”. The film was overwhelming in its awfulness. Even worse, it could not even manage to be laughably bad. The movie was incompetent in every single way, and the only redeeming quality of this film is that it ended.