Not every movie can be a winner. Some ideas — no matter how promising they look on paper — inevitably fall flat.
The thing is that most of these failures are obviously terrible, so it’s a wonder that they ever get greenlit in the first place. Nobody was asking for another Zoolander, Fantastic Four hasn’t been relevant since the 60’s and everybody’s tired of seeing Adam Sandler comedies. Even movies that turned out well-enough in the end — like Legend of the Sword and Ghostbusters — tanked at the box office for easily predictable reasons.
If you would have asked me a year ago what the worst movie of 2017 would be, the elephant in the room would be The Emoji Movie: a soulless cash-grab for iOS games and faces people sometimes make. Then again, if you would have asked me the same question about 2016, I would have said Trolls, and that ended up being one of the pleasantest surprises of the year.
But somebody at Sony Animation did actually think that a movie based on a thing your phone does between drunk texts was a good idea for a movie. Sure, kids’ movies don’t have to try that hard to turn a profit, but they still need to convince people to shell out upwards of $10 a ticket for it. And now that we’ve seen its first trailer, it’s obvious that somebody’s losing their job for greenlighting what might go down as the biggest flop of the year.
The movie follows Gene, a young “Meh” Emoji who wants to express emotions other than ironic detachment and indifference. After making the wrong face when texted to a girl his phone’s owner likes, he gets sent to the “loser lounge:” a place where unused Emojis live. Determined fit in with the rest of the Emojis, Gene goes on an adventure to the phone’s Source Code with best-friend “High Five” and the rebellious “Jailbreak” in order to… fit in… somehow… for reasons.
The story boils down to “Inside Out, but as a shameless commercial.” The characters are designed from the ground up to be simplistic, one-note concepts, like a Smiley Face or a Poo. And if the extended Candy Crush Saga bit is any indication, an inordinate portion of the movie’s run-time will be devoted to crossing paths with any App whose developer was willing to pay for product placement.
The thing is, I honestly have no idea who this movie is aimed at. Young children that would like the cheap, colorful animation won’t care about Emojis. Teens with phones won’t care about a movie whose interests skew so obviously young. And the adults that made Frozen and Moana box office hits won’t have any desire to see Patrick Stewart as a walking poop joke.
And while it might turn out to be better than it looks, I seriously doubt it. This is the kind of movie that shows you exactly what you can expect from it from the outset. Even another ribald Patrick Stewart performance isn’t enough to get me to so much as care about whatever else this movie has to offer.
In short: “meh.”
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