The Emoji Movie takes place in Textopolis, the world inside the phone of a teen named Alex. The Halloween dance is coming up and he's trying to ask out a girl he's known for a long time named Addie, but he's too unsure of what to ask and send her. Emojis, anyone? But he ends up picking the "Meh" emoji for a text message, and within this emoji is a glitch, an emoji named Gene played by T.J. Miller, who doesn't feel like a Meh. He feels so many different emotions and can pick so many different faces. So when he ends up sending the wrong one, Gene is seen as a glitch and is being chased by software bots and he and a friend he made called Hi-5, an emoji that was put to the back of the party because he hasn't been picked in a while, are off. They try to find a way to get Gene reprogrammed so that he won't require being erased, while Alex is starting to think his phone's messing with him. With that, we have our emoji movie.
Some people called this film derivative, primarily Wreck-it Ralph (for the videogame characters alive when the humans aren't looking, like Toy Story, and emojis this time), The Lego Movie (hence the similar name and a protagonist out of the norm of the rest of his community) and Inside Out (for some moments in the actual film that admittedly are similar.) I tried not to let any of that bother me, and it didn't as much as some others, I think.
Here's where some good things actually come through the connector cord into the cloud. The idea of Smiler (Maya Rudolph, who has a knack for having a role in many animated films these days) being the boss because she was the first emoji and being the antagonist was imaginative and realistic. The idea of the original emojis like this: :) D: ;) being grandparents in this time made me lightly chuckle. I think the animation's nice and the voice cast does a good job, especially Anna Faris as Jailbreak, who also played Sam Sparks in Sony's Cloudy movies. Faris as Jailbreak sounds taut and ready for action. And James Corden as Hi-5 gave a memorable enough performance. I thought the apps they go to in this movie and the ones they run around were nice. The idea of trying to escape to the cloud was a good touch too. I've had electronics and old files break on me in the past and even though I don't use iCloud, I bet something like it would massively come in handy. Some people saw the use of Candy Crush, Just Dance and other apps as advertisement funds, but I found them enjoyable enough.
And here's where my criticism starts. The more I think about it, the more I'm not sure a world like Textopolis would function properly. According to Gene and apparently all the other emojis, everyone's expected to act one way their entire lives because that's their function, and not doing so makes them a glitch. But what about the poop emoji, the cactus or maybe the monkey, skeleton, sushi or elephant emojis? I feel like their ambiguity on how they would perceive certain situations because their personality isn't in their names would give them the freedom to be that way. Also, the movie talks about how words aren't cool when they talk about Alex sending a message to Addie, and emojis are all the rage. Um...When I was in seventh grade, I accidentally said a phone could be your best friend when we were debating (as an assignment) whether phones should be banned in schools. I said some other things that made more sense, but my friend's rhetoric right after was that a phone can't be a real friend. She was entirely right. And I heard Tony Leondis got heart emojis from I think his mom and that made him feel giddy. But emojis are straight up not a tower above words. While emojis can make a text and even a text conversation more enjoyable, they can't make a best friend which this movie sometimes suggests. Maybe they're joking but I don't know. The movie ends with something happening between Alex and Addie because of an emoji, and it was a false rendition, overselling emojis to an obvious fault.
Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge play Gene's Meh parents, who are both actors I respect but are stuck playing roles that are meant to be funny how "meh" they are in situations. It was a hit-and-gravely-miss idea, feeling sometimes like because of the way the story is structured, they had to be like this and that was the only reason. They got more annoying than hilariously weird.
So in the end, I don't think The Emoji Movie is the worst movie ever made. I didn't even think it was the worst animated movie of 2017. But just like emojis are overhyped in this film, I can't overhype my praise compared to its flaws. I'm still, though, a Tony Leondis fan and I hope he will still be on board for Dreamworks Animation's shelved project, Boo: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations.