Let’s face it, the second you heard “The Emoji Movie”, you groaned. If I knew about it then, I would have too. But, the first I heard about it was when my 9 year old daughter and 12 year old nephew came running out of a room to tell me that they “HAVE TO SEE THE EMOJI MOVIE. ERMAHGAWDDD!!”
I thought it was a phase and hoped they would forget it. Fast forward to last month, when my daughter marched up to me in my office (ahem, the dining room), and asked why I hadn’t taken her to a screening for The Emoji Movie. She was serious, and she doesn’t ask for much, so right then, my fate was sealed.
I full on planned on napping during the movie, and letting Sofia do this review, but you know what? Contrary to all signs pointing to this being some odd form of torture for parents, it actually wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great but my eye rolls were minimal, and I even genuinely chuckled a few times.
Gene (TJ Miller) is an emoji. The meh emoji, to be precise. He lives in the land of emojis (or is it emojii?) which in turn, operate inside the phone of a young teenager named Alex (Jake T. Austin). It’s Gene’s first day ‘on the job’, and like anyone on their first day, he’s nervous. But, he’s nervous because he’s unlike all the other emojis. He’s different. He may have been born a ‘Meh’ but Gene actually has more than just meh in him. He tries to bury this self declared flaw, and be the best ‘meh’ emoji there can be, like his parents Mary Meh (Jennifer Coolidge) and Mel Meh (Steven Wright). So, when Alex tries to send the perfect emoji to the girl he’s crushing on in school, Gene is picked and as he is being scanned, he gets so nervous, that he fails to be a meh, and instead changes to many emojis, and is accidentally sent to Alex’s crush. Queen Bee of Emojis, Smiler (Maya Rudolph) declares Gene’s unique characteristic to be a malfunction and orders him to be deleted by some crazy bots. Gene leaves his home, and with the help of Hi-5 ?(James Corden) and Jailbreak (Anna Faris), searches for a way to kill what makes him unique, so he can just be a regular emoji.
Listen, it’s not Disney or Pixar, and it doesn’t try to be. It’s a somewhat sweet story about being yourself and even has a great girl power twist that embraces the fierce and feminine. Kids get it. Kids LIKE it and it’s not something that will make a parent regret it either. It has a lot of branding, and yes, sometimes it can read as an ad for apps, but this generation knows how to let go and enjoy a fun thing when it sees it. Us grown ups, and especially us critics, have long forgotten what it’s like just to go to a movie for fun. That’s what EMOJI is: a fun, mindless, colorful 86 minutes that doesn’t take itself seriously. It won’t go down as a classic, but sharing a laugh or two with your kids in a theatre is always something good…even when there is Poop (Patrick Stewart).