That’s right. It really happened. Sony pictures made an animated movie about emojis. If you’ve been scrounging the internet in search of saucy reviews, odds are you know by now that The Emoji Movie is bad. Really bad. In fact, so bad that it’s one of the lowest rated movies on sites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, despite its 50-some million-dollar budget. I mean, for crying out loud, it’s a movie about emojis. How good can it be? Despite the negative criticism, the movie actually made a decent profit. It’s hard to believe that a movie about emojis could manage to round up hundreds of millions of dollars, but it did. After watching the movie myself, I can honestly say that it deserves the ⅕ stars, 2/10 stars, and measly 5% and 12%’s it’s been getting from critics around the world. Let’s take a minute to analyze the awfulness that is The Emoji Movie, as well as its undeniable success.
Sensibly named The Emoji Movie, this film revolves around the life of a “meh” emoji named Gene. He lives in Textopolis–a technological city full of unique and diverse emojis. The hubworld of Textopolis exists inside of a smartphone–more specifically, the smartphone of a young boy named Alex. In the movie, there are two different stories being told; the story of Gene and his struggle to conform to the expectations of society while also trying to discover his identity, and the story of Alex and his struggle to sum up the courage to talk to his crush Addie.
The movie seems pretty reasonable, right? Well, maybe at first glance. The arguably worst part of the movie is the upfront, uncensored display of advertisements.
Throughout the movie, Twitter, Candy Crush, and the Just Dance app are only a few uninhibited product-placements to be found. They’re actually more than product placements, they really are full-fledged advertisements. The Twitter logo has the capacity to assist Gene in his endeavors by flying him from destination to destination. Gene and his friends Hi-5 and Jailbreak engage in an unplanned playthrough of the Candy Crush game–with the logo looming above them the whole time. Gene and his friends also somehow manage to wander through the Just Dance app, and sure enough, their ridiculous heads are blown up onto the dancers while they boogie happily to the licensed music.
If that doesn’t paint a bad picture for a movie, I don’t know what does. Unfortunately, that is one of the movie’s greatest downfalls–the advertisements. Product placements and advertisements should come few and far between when it comes to big production films, but the level of “selling out” in this movie gets to be too much for a mature audience to tolerate. Advertisements always manage to take the audience’s focus away from the movie and onto whatever product is being advertised. You shouldn’t have to go to a movie theater and wind up paying money to watch commercials you’d normally have to sit through at home. We pay good money on theater tickets and overpriced popcorn to sit through 90 minutes of commercials.
While the advertisements play a large role in the movie’s failure to entertain audiences, there’s actually another underlying issue with the film–its message about the role of utilizing emojis to express feelings.
I usually hate spoiling movies for people, but let’s face it, did anyone think for a second that this movie would have an melancholy, surreal ending for Gene and Alex? No? I didn’t think so. In the end, Alex finally talks to his crush Addie. She texts him a question, to which he responds with an emoji. The concerning part of this exchange in texts is what Addie says in response to Alex’s emoji. Instead of losing interest in a person who mainly expresses himself through the use of emojis in order to simplify conversation, she actually applauds him and says something along the lines of, “Wow! You really know how to express your feelings”.
This is not a good message for the children this movie is targeting.
The sole purpose of an emoji is to simplify the conveyance of feelings, not explain them. Emojis are easy to text back and forth because it’s both simple to understand and to text. It just takes a second to select and send a happy emoji compared to a full five seconds to text “I’m feeling great today!” Much in the same way, language is something that has to be analyzed to fully understand. Sometimes people have a hard time reading a text and understanding what the person means by it. It’s much easier to understand a happy face emoji than it is to understand a well-thought sentence explaining the complex way someone feels at any given time.
Ultimately, that’s why The Emoji Movie made so much money–it sold itself out to trends.
Emojis, Twitter, and Candy Crush have been popular for a while now, and they’re likely to stay that way for some time. The sad truth is that a major motion production is more likely to get money off of spending minimal amounts of time making a movie based on a trend than it is by developing intricate characters, complicated story lines, and concise plots. The risk is in the complicated and subjective movie, not the sell-out, trendy movie. The profit is already there, why not capitalize on it?
Movies like The Emoji Movie are always going to exist. Let’s face it, they’ll never be good movies until the people in charge of producing them attempt to build on characters and stories. Unfortunately, the simpler the product is, the easier it is to market.
Additionally, just to set things straight, if you use emojis frequently when you text your friends and family, that doesn’t make you a bad person. If anything, it makes you a culturally-aware subject of our society. It also means you don’t like to waste time! Where we should draw the line is the point at which we as a society accept emojis as a conventional display of our emotions. As coexisting human beings who text every day, we need to retain that essential, humanistic tendency to explain our most complicated feelings to one another in our own language–words.