When The Emoji Movie arrived in theaters this past summer, most mainstream critics weren’t exactly kind to it. In fact, there was already some negative buzz swirling around it since it was first announced – and even I questioned just how, exactly, Sony Pictures was planning to execute a feature film based on the characters than live within our phones. Thing is, that’s exactly what they did – with filmmaker Tony Leondis crafting a tale of a world that literally exists inside of our devices, connecting everyone. Emojis have been everywhere these past few years, and The Emoji Movie gives them purpose, because even those who openly detest the creatures who evolved from emoticons, now harbor them within their purses or pockets every single day. Thing is, this isn’t a movie for grownups, but very much a tale for tech-obsessed kids, which is always something of a double-edged sword here in our house.
Out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD from Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Emoji Movie makes a perfect stocking stuffer for the holiday season – especially for a younger-skewing crowd. My wife and I actually rented a theater to show the film to our oldest daughter and her friends for her eighth birthday party, and the kids loved it. It’s cute, good-hearted, and essentially everything a movie about emojis should be.
Set within the world of Textopolis, Gene (a Meh emoji) discovers he has a range of emotion, but this is considered a terrible glitch. With the help of Jailbreak (a hacker of sorts), he sets out to find a solution to his code, all in a race against time that finds them at risk of their entire world being wiped out at the hands of an Apple Store-style tech, who just may wipe the phone and start over. As the crew explores Textopolis, they jump from app to app, making their way through scenarios that range from humorous to nightmare fodder, but all within the feasible realm of a digital reality. In the end, it all wraps up and makes for a good time.
Viewers may notice similarities to other, more well-known films in here (definitely Inside Out in a few spots, plus Wreck-It Ralph, Tron and even the recent Barbie: Video Game Hero), which should be expected from Leondis, who noted Toy Story as an inspiration, and previously did time at DisneyToon studios, where he made his directorial debut on Lilo & Stitch 2. The screenplay was penned by Leondis with Eric Siegel and Mike White.
The Emoji Movie features an all-star voice cast including T.J. Miller (How To Train Your Dragon) as Gene Meh, James Corden (“Late Late Show with James Corden”) as Hi-5, Anna Faris (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) as Jailbreak, Maya Rudolph (Big Hero 6) as Smiler, Steven Wright (Louie) as Mel Meh, Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie, Legally Blonde) as Mary Meh, Jake T. Austin (“Wizards of Waverly Place”) as phone owner Alex, Grammy® Award Winner Christina Aguilera as Akiko Glitter, Emmy® Award Nominee Sofia Vergara (The Smurfs) as Flamenca, Rachael Ray (“Rachael Ray”) as Spam, Emmy® Award Winner Sean Hayes (“Will & Grace”) as “Devil” Steven, and Emmy® Award Nominee Sir Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Poop.