There wasn’t a 🙂 to be found among the critics who reviewed Columbia/Sony Animation’s “The Emoji Movie,” as early reviews released Thursday were emphatically and unanimously negative.
So far, 15 reviews have been entered on Rotten Tomatoes, and every one has given the celebrity-filled family film a thumbs down. Taking place in a digital city called Textopolis that’s located inside a teen’s phone, “The Emoji Movie” lends itself to comparisons to Pixar’s “Inside Out.”
But critics like TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde couldn’t find an emoticon to express how below par the movie lands. “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,” he wrote in his review.
“Despite wanly espousing the importance of individuality,” ScreenDaily’s Tim Grierson also said, “this anonymous product couldn’t feel more strained or cautious, playing down to its childhood audience while offering plenty of screen time to the myriad brands featured in this movie-length advertisement.”
Criticism was also leveled at the film’s protagonist, Gene, a “meh” emoji played by T.J. Miller who struggles to do his job as a digital expression of indifference because of his ability to express other emotions. Critics said that Gene’s conflict failed to be engaging, and that the stakes failed to be properly conveyed. Combined with repetitive jokes and characters that rely on the name recognition of their voice actors for laughs, such as Patrick Stewart as the poop emoji — “The Emoji Movie” left nothing for critics to praise.
Read more of the scathing reviews below:
Alonso Duralde, TheWrap
“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.”
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“There are so many life lessons contained within this sloppily-tied knot of faux-inspirational morals that they all tend to cancel each other out. And yet, there are definitely less pleasant ways for kids to learn that self-expression is something you have to pay for, and that anyone who can’t afford a smartphone isn’t even worth acknowledging. Once upon a time, something like ‘The Emoji Movie’ would be regarded as a dire commentary on the culture that produced it. These days, the culture so consistently comments upon itself that something like ‘The Emoji Movie’ just makes you wonder what’s left to be said.”
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.”
Emily Yoshida, Vulture
“This is a film that seems beamed from a near future in which nothing goes right; ‘words,’ as the kids in the film agree, ‘aren’t cool’ anymore; and Patrick Stewart making jokes about soft shits is the new prestige TV. But what do I know? At my screening, which was for both press and a handful of unfortunate families, at the first sighting of her favorite rainbow-colored icon, a little girl behind me cried out, adoringly, ‘It’s Instagram!’ A new age of heroes is born.”
Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
“It’s amazing that we can put a man on the moon but movies like this still somehow get made. 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!’
It’s amazing — or maybe it isn’t — that in addition to its poorly conceived ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ stunt, the filmmakers saw fit to have a character sing, ‘Nobody knows the touch screens I’ve seen / Nobody knows the screenshots,’ while sitting atop a pile of trash, to the tune of ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,’ a spiritual written by slaves to bolster their spirits while toiling in the pre-Emancipation American South.”
Mike Reyes, CinemaBlend
“What could have been another example of a film rising above the cynicism that met its inception, ‘The Emoji Movie‘ turned out to be an even worse idea in execution than it did on paper. Its characters are weak, its story lame, and its purpose unclear. Do yourself a favor, and swipe left on this one.”