The Emoji Movie review: An audacious waste of everybody's time

Steve Hogarty
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The Emoji Movie

One time, I fell asleep wearing my contact lenses after a heavy night out with some friends. When I awoke at around 3am, my eyeballs were on fire.

I tried carefully to peel the lenses out, but they had adhered themselves to the surface of my eyes, like price stickers on a second hand book, or sellotape on a grape. I scratched and gouged and pinched and screamed until my burning eyes turned blood red and my cheeks became soaked in hot sticky tears. A housemate drove me to Moorfields. I had to administer eye drops once every hour, throughout the day and night, for four days.

I was reminded of this time that something very unwanted happened inside my eyeballs when watching The Emoji Movie, a film – well, a series of bad, animated puns – set in an imaginary world where emojis live out little lives inside your phone. It’s painful viewing, lifting wholesale the plot of Pixar’s Inside Out, stripping it of any kind of moral message besides a vague theme about “being yourself”, before smearing itself and the audience in the gross indignity of relentless and jarring product placement. There are entire scenes devoted to Candy Crush, which is a credible enough inclusion, but Ubisoft’s Just Dance?

At one point the emojis hide from deletion inside the Dropbox app, because it’s the most secure place on the phone. It’s probably unrelated that Dropbox suffered one of the largest breaches of user data ever last year, when 70 million of its customers’ credentials were hacked. The poop emoji never mentions this.

Showing a damning ignorance of its source material, there’s a scene in which we visit “the least used emojis” and see the aubergine which, if you’re not aware, is the agreed upon emoji shorthand for a cock. An open goal for a one-for-the-grown-ups gag, the aubergine goes unmentioned. The writers don’t know what the emojis mean, and apparently didn’t run the script by anybody who does.

There’s potentially a good comedy to be written about emojis, there really is, but The Emoji Movie is far from it. A vapid, joke-free movie about not much at all, written by an advertising team without a soul between them. I’d prefer to fall asleep in my contacts than ever see anything like it again.

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