Critics eviscerate ‘The Emoji Movie,’ often without words

Critics went in on The Emoji Movie, which Mashable described as “\_()_/” and we’re hardly the only ones getting cute with symbols here.

It was enough to warrant the use of poop emoji in headlines and in one case, a direct order not to see it.

Here’s what critics are saying about The Emoji Movie:

The Concept

John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter:

The project’s first hurdle is imagining how an emoji icon, which by definition represents only one emotional state (or object), can be a character capable of experiencing a story. Its solution is incoherent. We’re told both that “the pressure’s always on” for the face-emoji residents of Textopolis to keep their expressions convincing smiley or smirking, angry or puzzled and that they have no choice: That weeping guy keeps gushing tears even when he wins the lottery; he’s just programmed that way.

Owen Glieberman, Variety:

The notion of a digitally animated feature that brings emojis to life does have its hokey-irresistible side. It goes right back to the feeling you had the first time you ever used an emoji … The bad news is that The Emoji Movie really is meh. There have been worse ideas, but in this casethe execution isnt good enough to bring the notion of an emoji movie to funky, surprising life.

Alissa Wilkinson, Vox:

Most likely, it was going to be a garbage fire. And now that Ive seen it, I can confirm that suspicion: The Emoji Movie is a waste of time, resources, and a bunch of comedians voices, plus a premise that actually had the potential to do some small good in the world. Its less of a movie and more of an insult.

Katie Walsh, The L.A. Times/The Chicago Tribute:

For a film that wants to imagine the world inside smartphones, this story just feels so unimaginative and low-stakes. It’s tied too closely to the way we use smartphones to create a transporting, wild new world. Every step of the journey is to prevent Alex from restoring the phone to factory settings … it’s hard to care about whether Gene can consistently make a meh face and if he’ll be eaten by anti-virus bots.

The Script

John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter:

Dialogue is even lamer when the pic’s three scribes depict the life of Alex, the high-school kid who owns the phone Gene inhabits. When Alex wonders what to text the girl he has a crush on, his pal scowls “words aren’t cool” … nearly all of the laughter was directed at this sort of line, where three grown men try and fail to convincingly imagine how kids talk. Hell, they can’t even come up with fresh-smelling one-liners about the movie’s resident poop icon.

Alissa Wilkinson, Vox:

The Emoji Movies grand contribution to our world, alas, will be a new dance called the Emoji-Pop, in which you do whatever you want with your legs to loud club music while putting your hands up to your face repeatedly, in a kind of hellish game of peek-a-boo, with a new expression every time you take your hands away.

That Product Placement

Jordan Hoffman, New York Daily News:

The only thing worse than the dialogue is the absurd product placement. In addition to “riding the Spotify streams” to make it all the way across the phones, there are a few glimpses hawking Crackle, a streaming service no one uses but just so happens to be owned by the same corporate entity that is distributing the film.

Alissa Wilkinson, Vox:

Its amazing to witness the baldly commercial attempt to shove as many recognizable apps as possible into The Emoji Movies sad excuse for a plot: Crackle (owned by Sony), WeChat (hugely popular in China, where this movie is aiming to make a killing), Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Dropbox all make appearances, with Dropbox in particular representing a kind of heaven that some of the emojis are trying to reach. And there are two whole sequences that add nothing whatsoever to the story, but suggest that Ubisoft and King the makers of the apps Candy Crush and Just Dance, respectively paid handsomely for their inclusion in the film.

Vadim Rizov, The A.V. Club:

Perplexed as to why lesser-loved streaming channel Crackle is on the homepage of this smartphone? Sony owns it, and sticking around for the end credits confirms that many of the musicians on the pop soundtrack are signed to the corporations various imprints. Vertically integrated product placement is to be expected, though the movies most egregious plausibility-breaking move is that it takes place on a Sony smartphone; these emojis are halfway between Droid-designed purgatory and their vastly more popular Apple variants.

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