Some movies, you watch because they are great art. Others are fun popcorn spectacles. Others are guilty pleasures. Some are so bad they are good. Some are so bad that they make you question your choices. Some are so bad they become some kind of endurance exercise. A few make you wonder exactly how cocaine factors into the way that studios greenlight things. A special group are those that your kids make you watch because they have a pre-schooler’s taste for brightly colored torture replayed 150 times a week. Or, they are movies that your teenagers watch because they get off on causing people pain to everybody else in the room. Then there is the Emoji Movie.
Summarizing a movie that asks “What if emojis were alive and had real feelings” is like trying to explain investment banking to two dogs humping. Nobody will understand what you’re trying to say and both sides of the conversation feel kind of weird that you even bothered. So, now that you can’t get that image out of your head, the Emoji Movie is about a “meh” emoji named Gene who lives in the phone of a kid named Alex, only Gene can show different emotions, which gets him into trouble and makes Alex think his phone is malfunctioning. Thus, the Smiley emoji declares Gene a malfunction that must be deleted. Gene and Hi-5—an emoji that has overstayed its welcome in Textopolis and thus is appropriately voiced by James Corden—team up with Jailbreak, a hacker emoji dressed in the kind of slouchy, emo uniform that your daffy aunt thinks computer criminals wear. Anyway, Jailbreak is really a Princess icon who disguises herself to protest stereotyping, which is a laugh because if there is one thing this movie does well, it’s stereotyping. They all gang up and run through the various apps in what-his-face’s phone to upload themselves into the cloud and be free, which is a plot stupid enough to make screenwriting teachers everywhere contemplate ritual suicide by covering themselves in chocolate sauce and riding a winch into a gigantic pit filled with feral pigs.
This movie took $50 million to make. A better use of that money would have been to give a free measles vaccination to every single resident of the city of Detroit. Or, to fund a Space X Falcon 9 launch just to burn the rocket fuel. Or, to buy a McDonald’s Happy Meal for every single person in the province of Ontario and then dump all that food into the mouth of a volcano because Canadians are way more into Tim Hortons. Or, to drop 18 Bugatti Chirons out the back of a cargo plane onto the salt flats of Utah in the hopes of crashing them in the formation of a smiley face. Anyway, this movie went ahead and made $217 million, which proves that there either is no God or that if there is, he clearly works for Columbia and Sony.
You know, I once accidentally cut my index finger with a rusty woodsaw so badly that I saw large, round droplets of blood sprinkle into the air, and I lost all feeling in that fingertip for six months afterward. I had a better time then than I did watching the Emoji movie, which even by the cynical standards of half-assed, hyper-branded movie-making for children and village idiots, is an extravagant way to insult one’s desire for entertainment.
I once swallowed some food without chewing sufficiently, and felt like I was choking and rushed to drink something to wash it down, but all I had on hand was a diet soda, and the carbonation just created this massive gas bubble in my throat which made me feel like my trachea was going to explode but instead it just made me explosively cough up that mouthful of sandwich and a spew of foam all over my suit and made me look like a moron in front of people I had only just met. Even then, I still had a better time humiliating myself in a near-Heimlich situation than I did watching the Emoji movie, which is such a lazy and threadbare excuse for storytelling that one imagines the whole thing was written by somebody spamming their phone for predictive text, got 86 pages worth, and then called it a day.
I once lost a hermit crab because my brother’s hermit crab killed it and escaped the tank only to be discovered a few days later, having gotten behind the television set, pinched the power cord, and electrocuted itself, much to the despair of my brother and the schadefreude of myself, for which my parents punished me anyway because it’s not nice to laugh at your younger brother, and even then, I still had a better time than I did watching the Emoji Movie because at least my brother’s crab died for its crimes and in the Emoji Movie, all of these stupid characters managed to survive, even the bad guy who the movie had the obnoxiously overambitious artistic pretension to include one more time in a mid-credits epilogue scene. No, I didn’t break that up into multiple sentences. You don’t deserve them. See, that is what the Emoji Movie does to people. It’s sad.
When you finish watching a movie that might make you feel stupid for not having spent that time doing something more productive, like scanning your choices in Netflix for an hour and a half without choosing any of them, you will know that no choice you ever make will be worse than the one you just made. Thus, you can go ahead and quit your job, mail envelopes of white powder to public officials, and then claim to be a sovereign citizen in court, and it won’t be the dumbest thing you ever did. That is this movie’s moment of truth. You’re welcome.