Thumbs down for Emoji Movie

Actress Anna Faris (with her son Jack) at the Los Angeles premiere of The Emoji Movie, in which she voices a character named Jailbreak.
Actress Anna Faris (with her son Jack) at the Los Angeles premiere of The Emoji Movie, in which she voices a character named Jailbreak.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

WASHINGTON • There is perhaps no single emoji to reflect just how savagely film critics are trashing The Emoji Movie. A succession of skulls and dumpster fires would only begin to suggest the intensity of the verbal carpet-bombing.

Reviews began strafing the movie last Thursday, one day ahead of the Sony flick's big debut.

By last Friday, the only metric worse than the average reviewer score of nine (on a 100-point scale) on Metacritic website was the zero rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (As of yesterday, the score on the Tomatometer had crept up to 8 per cent.)

Emoji is being panned so badly that the cheeky review headlines might offer more punch lines than the film. Amid all that snarky display type, Screen Crush is the early leader out of the gate with: "We're Gonna Need a Bigger Poop Emoji."

The Wrap's headline says of Emoji's depths of dreckness: "There Are No Words."

Yet Screen Crush's Matt Singer counters that claim by unleashing a volley of scathing words: "It would be fitting if there were no words to describe The Emoji Movie; if the ephemeral experience of consuming this unique entertainment could be summarised only in a couple of small pictures dashed off in a text message. But, no, there are plenty of words that can describe The Emoji Movie. Here are a few of them: Unfunny. Saccharine. Nonsensical. Painful. And, of course, cr***y. (If you prefer the poop emoji, that works too.)"

The verdict from The Wrap's Alonso Duralde can be boiled down to one description: "soul-crushing disaster".

The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore gets at the crass soullessness of the cartoon enterprise, writing: "Tony Leondis' The Emoji Movie... is fast and colourful enough to attract young kids, but offers nearly nothing to their parents. If only this smartphone-centric dud, so happy to hawk real-world apps to its audience, could have done the same in its release strategy - coming out via Snapchat, where it would vanish shortly after arrival. But even that wouldn't be fast enough."

In the film, emoji Gene (voiced by T.J. Miller) teams with cast-off emoji Hi-5 (James Corden) and, as Variety nimbly characterises it, "set off on one of those Generic Animated Journeys - in this case, to find the Cloud, where they think they'll escape. They team up with a scruffy punk hacker named Jailbreak (Anna Faris), who is really a Princess emoji running from her real self... and they navigate a series of apps, such as Spotify, that begin to feel uncomfortably like product placement".

Summing it up on social media, Vulture's Emily Yoshida tweets her review by distilling the drudgery down to a tight emoji triptych (a bath, a high-voltage sign and an electric plug) and a three-word confession: "I give up."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Thumbs down for Emoji Movie'. Print Edition | Subscribe