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‘The Emoji Movie’ elicits a solid ‘Meh’

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(‘The Emoji Movie’ Official Facebook Page)

“The Emoji Movie” features Gene (T.J Miller,) a multi expressional emoji trying to fit the status quo of possessing one facial expression within Textopolis—a bustling city where all emojis live. When he fails to hide his exuberant emotions, and is exposed as a malfunction amongst the sea of other popular emoji’s, he goes on a journey through Textopolis to return to normal and avoid deletion by Smiler (Maya Rudolph).

Meanwhile, there is also a secondary plot happening outside of Textapolis, following Alex (Jake T. Austin,) and his quest to get classmate Addie (Tati Gabrielle) to go to the dance with him. Unfortunately for Alex, things get murky when Gene can’t correctly expel the intended situational emoji “meh” like he’s supposed to, creating ambiguity and tension between Alex and Addie.

As if two loosely related plots weren’t enough wreckage, there exists a tertiary plot featuring Gene’s parents Mel Meh (Steven Wright) and Mary Meh (Jennifer Coolidge). Their drama  revolves around the developing tension in their marriage as a result of Gene’s malfunction as a traditional emoji.

If the plotline was a stumbling escapade, not much can be said for the film’s character development. The main characters in “The Emoji Movie” felt just as forced as the writing. This was particularly applied to Smiler. Her voice was ear-piercing, so much so that it could have been compared to nails on a chalkboard. And each line delivered in this shrill package was ever the more agonizing.

While there were countless embarrassing writing blunders in the film, there were some instances that deserved  appreciation for the writers efforts in making room within the context of the movie. I was surprisingly/ironically moved when Gene says, “What’s the point of being number one if there are no other numbers?” The writers also managed to work in a “Bye Felicia” and “world’s smallest violin” reference, which landed for me, and could be appreciated by an older crowd.

After all was said and done, the soundtrack was somewhat strong in “The Emoji Movie.” The choices were upbeat, while remaining unwaveringly mainstream, which is something I’m sure was predicted to land with the target audience. The soundtrack  included “Cheerleader” by OMI and “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by Silentó.

A random bizarre moment from the film that’s still sitting funny with me was when they reveal that Alex was planning on exposing his love for Addie via e-mail. What happened to emojis being the most important form of communication ever invented? How does that translate to email communication? The scene is inconsistent with that message and it contradicts Gene’s bold statement at the beginning of the film. This said e-mail also contained a verse to Rihanna’s song “Diamonds,” which, as you may have guessed, definitely did not correlate well.

Overall, this movie is just not worth the effort it takes to roll down to your local theater. Simply put: the jokes are dry, the plot is boring and the characters are overbearing. While the soundtrack was solid for its intention and there were some tiny bright spots in an otherwise dark cloud of  writing, this movie was a disaster.

Tyler Movsessian can be reached at [email protected]

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