This one works as punishment.

Just… Fuck you.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, here we are. We finally got this far. We’re making movies about smiley faces and smartphone symbols now. You finally insisted that obnoxious cry-laugh faces and cartoon monkeys are the most amazing/hilarious thing on the planet enough times that someone in Hollywood went “oh hey, that’d make us a lot of easy money such a good movie”. Are you happy now? Are you proud of what you did? Are you really?


On the surface, The Emoji Movie seems like the sort of thing that would play as a desperately uncreative cringe-fest even if it wasn’t Sony at their most pandering and was actually made by those obsessed enough over these modern-day hieroglyphics to think it was a genuinely non-idiotic idea for a film. Alas, The Emoji Movie doesn’t even have the decency to sell itself as the inane cash-in it is. Instead, it aims to be the Wreck-it Ralph or Lego Movie of the smartphone world.

Yes, both those films proved surprisingly smart and well-made in spite of seeming like giant product placements, but when you can instantly deduce which films Sony were attempting to mimic with Emoji, the pleasant surprise seems a less likely outcome. One way it may have worked – and this is very much the only way – is if the entire movie was like the first trailer and had the character of Steven Wright continuously narrate how soulless and transcendentally stupid it all is right before he commits ritualistic suicide and tells you to shut your damn phone off and go outside.

To be exact, the story is in some ways an inversion of The Lego Movie. Instead of being too dull and unremarkable, our hero is a “meh” emoji (T.J. Miller) who exhibits too many character traits and emotions. Think Divergent except it isn’t even as smart as the less intelligent Hunger Games. He lives in Textopolis, a cityscape inside your cellphone, and his condition causes trouble for both himself and the owner of the device in question. He’s surrounded by such supposed “characters” as Hi-5 (James Corden), Smiler (Maya Rudolph), a hacker named Jailbreak (Anna Faris), and indeed, a piece of poop voiced by “Sir” Patrick Stewart. I’m just trying to figure out how I would explain any of this to Charles-Émile Reynaud if he were to rise from the grave.

Certain other phone applications also turn up, rarely for any other purpose than to remind you that they exist and you can buy them. And also some more stolen ideas and concepts courtesy of Toy Story, Inside Out, ReBoot, and probably every other movie ever made. I can’t be sure but it wouldn’t astound me.

So, you’ve heard critics call this the “Poochie of movies”, “one of the darkest and most dismaying films I have ever seen”, and “almost as bad and brutally depressing and everything else in 2017” (not to forget the 0% on Rotten Tomatoes or the 1 star on IMDb). Another quote I enjoyed when the reviews started dropping (essentially becoming an Internet meme in and of themselves) was one by Peter Sobczynski who called it “a work so completely devoid of wit, style, intelligence or basic entertainment value that it makes that movie based on the Angry Birds app seem like a pure artistic statement by comparison”. That, or the one entirely about Minions.

Similarly, websites have pointed out that this is the film that finally broke critics; the one that made reviewers give up on the hope of anything ever getting better again (that or they’re simply realizing they’ve finally come upon a film too dumb to ridicule). With all the unrequested remakes, astonishingly pointless sequels, and unoriginal reboots, you can at least give their makers this: they didn’t look at a bunch of icons in their text messages and go “Heureka”.

The obvious joke to make here is that the only thing left to do now is make a movie about living Snapchat filters but it’s so obviously going to happen at some point that it won’t even be funny when we say it as a joke and Sony does it anyway. Nothing is a “what if” or “that’d be like” anymore. Hollywood have made themselves immune to parody, and even if it didn’t start with The Emoji Movie, it may just be the motion picture that solidified it once and for all. A film this bereft of style, inspiration, comedy, performances, and originality would usually be washed away by the sands of time, but the fact that someone actually thought to take this premise any further than a Robot Chicken sketch is a joke that will never be forgotten, nor matched by anyone who actually intends to be laughed at.

Oh but please, by all means, publish more think-pieces about how this animated comedy about sentient emoticons where Patrick Stewart voices a talking turd is going to teach kids valuable and progressive lessons or how it will destroy Donald Trump. Furthermore, don’t look at yourselves. It’s better that way.

Seriously, though; this is the best movie ever made and the fact that it inspires us to give up on smartphones and filmmaking is Jodorowsky-level brilliance. Leave the Holy Mountain. Real life awaits us.