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Film review: The Emoji Movie is a shameless, witless piece of poop

Failed jokes, poor execution and over-the-top product placement combine to create a real stinker of a film that even Patrick Stewart can’t save

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 6:04pm

1/5 stars

As the Lego movies showed, films which take inanimate objects from everyday life, give them personalities, and construct storylines around them can work. But that’s not the case with The Emoji Movie, a disastrous, shameless attempt to cash in on the ubiquity of the icons that populate our text messages.

Banal and uninteresting, the film will even fail to impress the very young children it’s targeting – they won’t know enough about the workings of a phone, or the history of the internet, to understand what’s going on. Parents, meanwhile, will be irritated by the constant slew of product placement which includes Spotify, Dropbox and many other digital companies.

It might have worked if the execution wasn’t so appalling. In the world of Textopolis, each emoji must develop a single side of their personality to do their job – smiley icons must never look “meh”, for instance. The problem with Gene (T.J. Miller) is that he’s so emotional, he can’t get his face to stick in one position.

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After Gene pulls a weird face in a text, the phone’s owner decides to delete everything on the phone and start anew. This, though, will wipe out the inhabitants of Textopolis, so Gene and some emoji friends, including Hi-5 (James Corden), journey through the phone’s inner architecture to fix the problem first.

The Emoji Movie is littered with failed jokes, most of which centre on the digital world. The animation is competent, but with today’s standards so high, it also looks unimaginative. Even the recent kids’ film Smurfs: The Lost Village established a more distinctive animation style.

And quite why Shakespearean actor and former Starfleet commander Patrick Stewart signed on to voice the part of an emoji turd called Poop will remain one of cinema’s great mysteries.

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The Emoji Movie opens on August 3

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