An emoti­bomb of a film

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

THE EMOJI MOVIE ★ Di­rected by Tony Leondis. Voices of TJ Miller, Anna Faris, Sofía Ver­gara, Pa­trick Ste­wart. G cert, gen re­lease, 91 min We should give the mak­ers of this wad of spume some small credit. The An­gry Birds Movie was bet­ter than it needed to be.

The Lego Movie was far bet­ter than we had any right to ex­pect.

The Emoji Movie man­ages the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble feat of be­ing a lit­tle bit worse than it sounded. That is a gen­uine achieve­ment. How can this be pos­si­ble?

The worst thing in this con­sis­tently dire ef­fort to pick the pock­ets of young, vul­ner­a­ble cretins is its de­ter­mi­na­tion to ex­ploit the un­work­able premise to death and be­yond. This is a story about the lit­tle emoji that doesn’t quite fit in. Our ugly duck­ling is ex­pected to rep­re­sent “meh” – that’s pointed lack of in­ter­est, grand­dad – but he can’t stop him­self from be­ing out­wardly happy, an­gry, sur­prised and so forth.

So he must jour­ney about the menu screen in search of re­pro­gram­ming. This brings him to a pop­u­lar mo­bile game (avail­able to pur­chase at a touch), a busy mes­sag­ing app (get tap­ping, ju­nior), and a visit to In­sta­gram (here’s a photo of me throw­ing up treated with a noir fil­ter).

The hope­less ef­fort to make a uni­verse from prod­uct place­ment is an­noy­ing enough. The shock­ing en­try-level an­i­ma­tion is shame­ful in a project from a ma­jor stu­dio. The abil­ity to pick up the worst bits of much bet­ter films is gen­uinely hurt­ful (the emo­jis share the same creepy de­vo­tion to the phone’s owner as the toys did to the despotic Andy in Toy Story).

But none of this premise-strain­ing is quite so painful as the at­tempts to make sense of a wildly mis­placed moral. As ever with such sto­ries, the mes­sage is to do with be­ing your­self and not wor­ry­ing about fit­ting in. But uni­for­mity is what makes emo­jis what they are. This is non­sense talk.

We should re­luc­tantly ad­mit that there are a few de­cent jokes. Emoti­cons are rep­re­sented as se­nior cit­i­zens and . . . okay there is one de­cent joke. The rest of it is un­medi­ated rub­bish. Every­body else is mak­ing unimag­i­na­tive cracks about it be­ing wor­thy of five poop icons. We do the same. It doesn’t de­serve even an orig­i­nal kick­ing.

Sad-face: The Emoji movie

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