Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
longing to find one’s purpose and place in life
pressures from parents / not being able to meet their expectations—or not wanting to
feeling like you’re not “normal” like others
rebellion against parents
a girl character says she does not want to just a “Princess” or a “Bride” —Is Feminism really the answer? Or is there something more?
The worldly mantra that you should “just follow your dreams”—Is that really what life is about? Contrast this to what Christ desires for us—becoming a willing slave to Christ, a loving servant to those in need, and striving not for fleeting worldly pleasures and gain, but for rewards beyond this world promised by our eternal Savior.
➤ Learn about biblical LOVE
having friends that you can depend on
What happens when one acts like something they are not.
obessive (and excessive) cellphone and tablet uses by teenagers and others
Sofia Vergara … Flamenca (voice)
Patrick Stewart … Poop (voice)
Anna Faris … Jailbreak (voice)
T.J. Miller … Gene (voice)
James Corden … Hi-5 (voice)
Maya Rudolph … Smiler (voice)
Steven Wright … Mel Meh (voice)
Jennifer Coolidge … Mary Meh (voice)
Christina Aguilera … Akiko Glitter (voice)
Rachael Ray … Spam (voice)
Sean Hayes … “Devil” Steven (voice)
Jake T. Austin … Alex (voice)
Tati Gabrielle … Addie (voice)
Jude Kouyate … Poop Jr. “PJ” (voice)
Jeff Ross … Internet Troll (voice)
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|Director:||Tony Leondis (Anthony Leondis)—“Igor” (2008)|
Sony Pictures Animation
|Distributor:||Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures|
“the secret world inside your phone”
So, because I’m in an empty theater (on opening weekend) seeing a movie aimed at children and pre-teens, I’m going to try writing this review while I watch “The Emoji Movie”: a live stream review, of sorts. It will also keep me from getting antsy, if the movie is as bad as it sounds. Judging from early reviews, the size of the crowd is indicative of the quality of the film, and also proof that just because a movie targets kids with an all-out television and social media assault/campaign, parents won’t shell out money at anything and everything, just to occupy their kids for an hour and a half.
The movie is preceded by a short film called “Puppy” featuring characters from the film “Hotel Transylvania.” The bathroom humor has already started, as the eponymous new puppy is appropriately named Tinkles. Adam Sandler’s Dracula character is having to dogsit Tinkles for his grandson (?). I haven’t seen the Transylvania movies, so I’m not sure of much. Tinkles is now chewing skeletons that are trying to escape from his mouth—skulls and bones and slobber flying in all directions. And… that’s it. Wow. Short and very pointless.
“The Emoji Movie” starts with a scene from the galaxy, and the narrator tells us what a magical world we live in. No, not that one, he says. The magical world of the greatest invention in all of mankind… the smartphone. The narrator is Gene, the “Meh emoji,” and he lives in Textopolis, where all the emojis are bound to the one emotion or activity they represent. The devil and and poop emojis have already made an appearance in the first few minutes, surely a sign of things to come.
Meh has a hard time following the constraints of Textopolis, as he can’t seem to always stick to the Meh schtick. He desires to be whatever emotion comes to him naturally.
A cloud emoji has been placed behind an elephant emoji, much to Meh’s delight. And a father and son poop emoji walk out of a bathroom chanting “We’re number 2.” I won’t be bringing up every instance of bathroom humor, as my typing fingers will get tired, and because there have been two more instances of it since I started typing the last sentence.
Meh works in Alex’s phone, where all the emojis sit in cubes waiting to be scanned and sent in a text or email. Alex is sitting in class learning about hieroglyphics, and the teacher is comparing hieroglyphics to emojis to get the kids to understand the concept.
Okay. So, I lied. The poop emoji just started to say “Oh shhh…” before being cut off. Kids might not get this, but parents certainly will.
Alex is bored in class, and goes to send a Meh emoji to a friend, but when Meh is about to be scanned, he freaks out because he can’t be an emotion he’s not feeling. The text cubes all crash, causing a system malfunction. Meh is in trouble, and a meeting is held in the boardroom to determine Meh’s fate.
So, it just dawned on me what this movie might be subtly portraying. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but Meh just said he isn’t sure who he really is, but he doesn’t think he is who he was designed to be. He doesn’t consider himself Meh, and wants to figure out who he is. In a world where transgender topics are front and center, is this film using emojis to make a point about changing how you were originally made, if that doesn’t fit who you feel that you are?
Meh is under threat of being deleted, but he escapes destruction. His friend Hi-5 comes to his rescue, taking him to the Loser Lounge, where emojis that don’t get used anymore are sent to waste away. Hi-5 encourages Meh to find the Piracy App, where a hacker named Jailbreak can reprogram Meh to be “the Meh I was Meh-nt to be.”
Side note: A mom walked into the theater with her son, just as the movie was starting, but 30 minutes in I’ve yet to hear a single laugh from them. Telling.
Hi-5 is preaching the importance of being popular and getting to the top by being the most liked by the most fans. Meh says he just wants a few close friends, likely a plot point for later.
They reach the Piracy App, which is an app designed to look like a dictionary app, so Alex’s parents won’t know what he’s hiding on his phone.
“What could a teenage boy want to hide from his parents?”
Meh asks, to which Hi-5 just stares at him. If any kid doesn’t know that apps like that exist, they do now. Jailbreak is the hacker they meet in a grungy rock bar on the Piracy App. They escape the bar when Bots show up, who were sent to “delete” Meh. Lots of things (including Internet trolls) are blown up in the process of escape.
They escape into Candy Crush—impressively blatant product placement.
We are back in Alex’s world, where he goes to talk to a girl he likes. As he starts to talk to her, his phone, which is in Candy Crush mode, finishes his question of “Hey, I was wondering if you were…” with the words “Tasty. Delicious.” The girls are grossed out and then laugh and walk away. Alex, embarrassed, makes an appointment with the phone store support team, since he thinks his phone is acting up. The emojis who are out to delete Meh are freaking out now, thinking they’ll all be deleted, too, if Alex decides to reset his phone.
Just Dance and Dropbox make an appearance. And there’s YouTube, where Meh’s parents go looking for him. Meh’s dad talks about their son being a “mehlfunction” who never should have been allowed to go to the text box in the first place. Meh’s mom says she and her husband should go their separate ways, since Mr. Meh isn’t who she thought he was. Emoji separation trying to create a dramatic moment.
Hi-5 makes a joke about getting the middle finger (kids probably won’t understand). And I just saw Hi-5’s “butt.”
A character got stuck in an app that got sent to the trash, and Meh gives a speech about going back to rescue them, because that’s what you do for your friends. The other character says “I guess I just always thought you should look out for number 1.” To which Meh replies “What’s the point of being number 1 if there are no other numbers?”
The characters take a canoe through the Spotify “streams” to quickly make their way to the trash bin to save their friend. A “Bubble Butts” song comes on. This Spotify bit is probably the one mildly clever part of the movie.
Meh’s parents reunite in a rather well-animated Paris photo album. Meh’s dad admits to having always had other feelings, just like his son, but has never let himself admit it or show them.
To rescue their friend from the trash bin, they travel through other apps to get there. As they attempt to escape the Bots sent to destroy Meh, they run around all the app icons. Not sure if I missed the explanation, but that doesn’t really mesh.
Meh just professed his love for Jailbreak, the female hacker they teamed up with. She says she’s not the kind of girl waiting around for her prince in shining armor, and that she appreciates the fact that he is struggling with figuring out who he is and what he wants, but she rejects him, nonetheless. Meh has now officially become “meh” out of heartbreak and gives himself over to the Bots for deletion (execution).
The movie is almost over, and the only kid in the theater just laughed for the first time, when a character yells, “Not now Mom!”
The finale involves Jailbreak and Hi-5 setting out to rescue Meh, while at the same time racing to return the phone to normalcy before Alex resets it, which would delete all of Textopolis.
“The Emoji Movie” voice cast of features T.J. Miller as Meh, James Corden as Hi-5, Anna Faris as Jailbreak, and a host of other celebrities, including (embarrassingly) Patrick Stewart as Poop. In a year where Oscar nomination talk is already being stirred up for his supporting performance in Logan, this Stewart voice performance might wind up being in a Razzie-nominated movie as well.
Here’s the thing: “The Emoji Movie” feels like a contradiction. It seems to explore messages that it doesn’t follow through with—or maybe it was trying to be all things to all people. The front end of the movie is loaded with Meh trying to figure out who he really is, since he supposedly isn’t who he was designed to be. That theme is heavy early on, even with Jailbreak, who was created as an entirely different emoji than she now lives as, and who seems to have built a reputation for helping emojis become what they feel like, instead of what they look like. She also makes a few comments early on that could be taken as “Feminist.”
By the end of the movie, roles have reverted back. Meh really just wants to be a man who can show more than one emotion, and Jailbreak might be more susceptible to being swept away by her “prince” than she so forcefully let on earlier.
King David said,
“I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” —Psalm 139:14 NKJV
“Why did God make me this way? Why was God so unfair?” Answer
“Does God feel our pain?” Answer
“Why does God allow innocent people to suffer?” Answer
The Enemy cannot create—besides chaos and confusion and strife. He uses what God the Father has already created to “create” doubt in, or defiance of, the true Creator.
We live in a time where people are encouraged to question, even revolt against, how they were made. Satan and his army know that if created beings begin to question how they were made, it will create a negative view of the Creator. But the Bible reminds us how wonderfully made we truly are, in the image of God. And that is something to be recognized, respected, and rejoiced in.
While “The Emoji Movie” may not have been trying to make any point to the contrary, it came to my mind nonetheless as I watched. And in a movie this hyper-active and humorless, you’ll have plenty of time to think. This isn’t the worst kids movie ever made. But it’s pretty bad. And worse… forgettable.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.