I’ve got to be honest, back when Emojis started, I’d assumed that they would be a fad. Destined to be forgotten like Troll dolls and Mood rings. Yet like cockroaches after Armageddon, they persisted, long enough to be more recognisable than a Tire Warning Light. In 2017 these colourful characters were given an adventure of their own in the 2017 eponymous film The Emoji Movie.
Meh emoji is ready to take his place among the other emojis, yet there’s one issue, he can’t feel meh, a big problem when that’s your one job. Meanwhile, when a young high schooler, Alex, responds to a message from his crush with a ‘broken’ meh emoji. Alex senses problems that throw Textopolis into chaos, determined to not let this mistake happen again, Meh goes on a quest with High-5 (a former favourite, now relegated emoji) to find an alleged hacker who could program this personality problem. While a zealous antivirus and a factory reset further complicate matters. But once he gets there, will it be worth it?
I’d imagine this film would be deceptively challenging concept to produce ideas for. Yet throughout the film, the audience is treated to a plethora of inspired gags. For instance, the emoticons are old citizens of Textopolis, and when you fly in Sir Patrick Stewart to play a sentient pile of faeces, you fully utilise him. He seems to be having a lot of fun with the role. He’s not alone of course. James Cordon fills the film with his brand of cheeky charisma and Maya Rudolph is delightful as the forever positive Smiler. (a position I feel the utmost sympathy for).
The whole-meta structure about the phones reveals a rich playground of ideas ready to be explored. Music streams are visualised as actual streams you could float on. Who knew that the Emoji keyboard is this Gameshow-esqe contraption, with a V.I.P. section for recently used, and a detailed basement for the forgotten? DreamWorks shines with the little animation touches on its characters and overall design of Alex’s Phone’s ecology. The product placement helps with this, with popular apps like YouTube, Dropbox and even hit game Just Dance getting represented in unique and creative ways that all makes sense within the reality, think Tron but a little less abstract.
Emoji Movie should probably be renamed The Internet Movie, as the film manages to reflect not just on Emojis, but the state of computing and the internet. It does so in a way that’s entertaining for the whole family, with astute tech observations, cute jokes, and a classic story about feeling good for what you are, The Emoji Movie will leave you feeling anything but meh!
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