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 Thursday like drone strikes, one day ahead of the Sony flick’s big debut. And by early Friday, the only metric worse than the average reviewer score of “9” (on a 100-point scale) on Metacritic.com was the dead-flat “zero” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Emoji” is being panned so badly that the cheeky review headlines might offer more punch lines than the movie. 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.”
“It would be fitting if there were no words to describe ‘The Emoji Movie’; if the ephemeral experience of consuming this unique entertainment could only be summarized 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, crappy. (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” (if only that blurb would make the film’s national ad spots). But Duralde wants to be clear about his critical forensics:
” ‘The Emoji Movie’ is not a soul-crushing disaster simply because its dramatis personae are the range of emotive faces and symbols that live inside your cell phone. It is a soul-crushing disaster because it lacks humor, wit, ideas, visual style, compelling performances, a point of view or any other distinguishing characteristic that would make it anything but a complete waste of your time, not to mention that of the diligent animators who brought this catastrophe into being.”
Sooo … no silver lining?
Let’s turn to the Hollywood Reporter, where critic John DeFore gets at the crass soullessness of the cartoon enterprise, writing: Director “Tony Leondis’ ‘The Emoji Movie,’ a very, very dumb thing, … is fast and colorful 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 — on the off-chance your interest is still piqued as to actual plot — the emoji Gene (voiced by T.J. Miller) teams with castoff emoji Hi-5 (James Corden) and they, as Variety nimbly characterizes 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’s really a Princess emoji running from her real self … and they navigate a series of apps, like Spotify, that begin to feel uncomfortably like product placement.”
So just how dreadful is the dialogue? Well, Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson — in calling the film “an insult” for which all involved should be ashamed — writes: “It’s amazing that with all that partner money, Sony couldn’t pay for a better script, with better lines of humorous dialogue to be delivered by the emojis than, ‘Throw some sauce on that dance burrito!’ ”
And then there is the social-media summation by Vulture’s Emily Yoshida, who tweets out her review by distilling the saturated drudgery down to a tight emoji triptych and a three-word confession: