Western Animation / The Emoji Movie

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A 3D CGI film produced by Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Columbia Pictures, released on July 28, 2017 (originally set for August 4th). It is the second theatrical film to be directed by Tony Leondis (known for Igor and the direct-to-video Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch). The film centers largely around the emoticons called emojis.

The film's setting is inside the core of a teenager's smartphone. One of the smartphone's residents is Gene (T. J. Miller), a meh emoji who discovers he has the ability to make multiple expressions, an ability that no other emoji has and one that proves to be dangerous to the entire smartphone. Destined to fit in with the rest of the emojis, he teams up with his friend Hi-Five (James Corden) and ends up on an adventure of a lifetime alongside the rebellious Jailbreak (Anna Faris), blazing through various smartphone apps and meeting other emojis along the way to discover his meaning.

It was first revealed under the working title Emojimovie: Express Yourself at CinemaCon 2016, a year after Sony won the rights to develop a movie based off the emojis. The teaser trailer can be viewed here. The first official trailer can be viewed here, and the second can be viewed here.


This film provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Whether or not Jailbreak has legitimate feelings for Gene but doesn't want to express things so soon, or whether she only likes him as a friend, is never truly resolved, as Gene expressing his feelings to her is never brought up again afterwards.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Casual cell phone games threaten to kill the protagonists if they lose.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • Poop is played by Sir Patrick Stewart himself and got his own character poster as well as appearances in most of the trailers and TV spots. He has about five lines in the movie, all of which are either puns or punchlines.
    • The same goes for the devil emoji, who got his own poster as well, despite having about as much screentime and lines as Poop (if not less).
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Gene is looked down upon among his fellow emojis because of his ability to make multi-facial expressions. There's also apparently a section in phones for dozens of emojis that either no one uses or are just misfits in general.
  • All Trolls Are Different: The phone has trolls living in it.
  • An Aesop: Be Yourself!
  • Artistic License - Technology: Oh boy.
    • Alex is able to stop the factory reset process mid-way, a feat impossible under normal circumstances. The Emojis could still be recovered later on, as phones lack the capacity to delete their data.
    • Emojis are not confined to SMS apps like the film seems to imply. All they are are blocks of Unicode, and can be placed anywhere that has a text field.
    • The princess emojis look nothing like their mobile counterparts.
    • The main plot point of "Emojis can only convey one emotion" is not exactly true. Ignoring that emojis can look entirely different depending on what device they're on, plenty of emojis have been used to express different things, either ironically or unintentionally (the eggplant emoji being a popular example of this). Yes, there's a lot of emojis that only have one meaning and are solely used for that meaning, but it's far from what the movie seems to portray.
    • Dropbox is far from "malware-free" like the movie states. Not saying they don't have procedures to prevent it from happening, but still.
    • The emoji are able to interact with Internet trolls, even though trolls are real people and not smartphone programs.
    • There's no such thing as a "hacker" emoji, and there's no equivalent. This is Foreshadowing to Jailbreak actually being a princess emoji.
    • One scene has Poop punching a fan emoji. Again, there's no such emoji.
    • Akiko Glitter looks nothing like an actual Just Dance character. For one, they don't have faces.
    • Smartphones do not use Recycle Bins for file deletion. It's much more streamlined.
  • Asshole Victim: The internet trolls spend all of their screen-time being obnoxious Jerkasses to the protagonists. When they end up getting sent to the dump, it's hard to feel sorry for them.
  • Author Tract: "MEN ARE ALWAYS GETTING CREDIT FOR WOMEN'S WORDS AND I'M SICK OF IT!" Uh, sure, Jailbreak.
  • Big Damn Movie: For Emoji, duh.
  • Big Red Button: Hi-5 has a compulsion to hit these.
  • Black and White Morality: The intention was for Smiler to seem reprehensible, while Gene is meant to be an innocent victim of a caste system.
  • Broken Aesop: The movie doesn't do a very good job at conveying its heavy handed morals.
    • Gene and Jailbreak's stories essentially cancel each other out, message-wise. One wants to conform and learns to value freedom, while another wants freedom and ends up conforming. This is especially ironic considering that the main focus was about Gene learning to reject the oppressive caste system and express himself.
    • If Jailbreak is meant to be a strong independent minded female role model, then why does she learn to fit in with the expectations of society? It seems to suggest that you can only save the day by following tradition. And why does the movie treat her as being selfish for rejecting Gene's fairy-tale views of romance?
    • If the movie was supposed to mock the excessive use of technology, then this was sure as hell broken when sending a text ultimately saves the day. Also, none of the human characters learn the drawbacks of their obsession with technology.
    • Hi-5 has to learn to stop being a narcissistic jerk and yet he still yearns for popularity through the entire movie. After he says he learned his lesson, he shouts about how "they love us" without any humility. Lesson learned.
    • For a movie where women "have limitless potential" there don't seem to be any interestingly written female characters. The only female emojis we see with major speaking roles are the generic order obsessed villain, the generic princess, the generic tough girl, and the generic love interest. Note that the only female character of significance other than the villain fits three out of those four characters.
    • The theme of Emoji prejudice against Gene is pushed hard to represent the struggles of the LGBT community, according to Word of Godinvoked... but Gene actually experiences very little Fantastic Racism when he's just walking through the streets of Textopolis making various faces. Society actually gave him a chance to use his talents, and he failed miserably. The only time he does get treated with major hostility is when he screws up majorly on the job in a way that puts the entire city in danger.
    • Wisecrack Edition made the case that the lesson of "you should reject societal expectations and express who you truly wish to be" couldn't escape unbroken. Sure, Smiler was defeated and the Emojis learn that it's perfectly fine to express more than one emotion. However, there is still the fact that they are stuck with one function, to serve Alex. What a brilliant life. Emojis were invented for this very specific purpose, so Textopolis is a terrible metaphor. The movie constantly validates the idea that they should only peruse society's intended purpose for them. In Real Life, this can easily prevent people from being themselves.
      • If Emojis wanted to become more than merely vessels of conveying ideas, then Alex could simply delete them as they would have outlived their usefulness. After all, Gene didn't stop the phone from being erased. It was Alex who prevented it because his crush was so Easily Impressed.
      • Aspects of the caste system still remain intact as the unpopular Emojis remain in the Loser Lounge.
      • Jailbreak learns to stop valuing freedom and reverts back to being a Princess.
      • Gene quickly discards the idea of leaving the phone forever.
      • Hi-5 never dumps his narcissistic ways to become a more well rounded Emoji.
  • Celebrity Paradox: "Feel This Moment" plays during the Dance Party Ending, though Akiko Glitter is played by Christina Aguilera.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    • An ice cream Emoji tells a story about a falling out he had with his boss over his job, and says "It's such a load of—" before the camera pans to Poop.
    Poop: No. Go ahead. Finish that sentence.
    • When the giant robotic hand used to scan the emojis breaks down, the scene cuts to different emojis and their reactions, one of which is the Poop Emoji, who shouts out "OH SH-" before being cut off.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Gene's "malfunction" (the ability to change faces) allows him to evade the bots by making himself look like a different emoji.
  • Cute Kitten: Surprised Kitty makes a cameo.
  • Dance Party Ending: Of course this movie would have one. It's worth noting, however, that there's another dance-heavy sequence in the middle of the movie.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gene's father, Mel Meh Emoji. Given that he's voiced by none other than Steven Wright, this makes complete sense.
  • Dreamworks Face: All over the place in the film's advertising.
  • Easily Forgiven: Despite being temporarily blacked out of existence, most of the Emojis celebrate Gene as a hero because he fixes the problem that he himself caused.
  • Easily Impressed: Addie McAlister asks Alex out to the dance because his phone sent an emoji. This somehow makes Alex stand out from the teenagers who constantly use their phones.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Akiko Glitter screams and claws for her life as she is deleted. She is later shown in the trash, weeping, and is presumably erased from existence at midnight. Sweet dreams, children!
  • Female Angel, Male Demon: A female angel emoji is seen hanging out with a male devil emoji several times throughout the movie.
  • Flat Character: Pretty much all of the characters never undergo much Character Development throughout the film, especially Hi-5, who remains a narcissist even after learning the value of friendship.
  • Foreshadowing: Jailbreak is said to have helped a Princess emoji out and Hi-5 comments he never heard of a Jailbreak emoji before. Jailbreak turns out to be the Princess.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A very literal case. See Curse Cut Short above.
  • Happy Ending: Everyone is a winner!
  • Expy:
    • Jailbreak's outfit and personality are very reminiscent of Wyldstyle. Others have noted similarities in appearance to that of Chloe Price and Sombra. On top of that, she's highly derivative of Vanellope; a tough-talking female misfit who can hack the code of the electronic setting, and is secretly a princess.
    • A very early design for Akiko Glitter was pretty much just Hatsune Miku colored purple and with trousers instead of a skirt.
  • The Hero's Journey: In Emoji form.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Gene's basic goal.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: This movie's main source of attempted comedy.
  • Indecisive Parody: This movie poorly attempts to poke fun of the mobile phone usage of teenagers, but this is just used to set the stage for the actual story about Emojis. Not helping is that sending a text is what resolves the main problems and nobody learns to appreciate real life.
  • Individuality Is Illegal: Textopolis is a world where facial Emojis expressing a range of emotions is frowned upon.
  • The Internet Is for Cats: In the YouTube app, some anti-virus bots are bowing to a video of a cat.
  • In the Blood: Gene's "malfunction" turns out to have been inherited from his father, Mel, the latter of whom spent years trying as hard as he could to hide the fact from everyone, including his wife and son.
  • Killed Off for Real: Akiko Glitter. Doubles as a Family-Unfriendly Death.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The film begins as something of a Cosmic Horror Story, when the emojis and their very livelihood are threatened by Alex's appointment to wipe his phone following Gene's screwup and the apps triggered by his quest. The emojis are completely powerless to stop him and are almost completely deleted as a result. But thanks to Jailbreak's encouragement and Gene's expressiveness creating an animated emoji, the world is saved from deletion, making it a case of this.
  • Method Acting: Taken to the extreme. Facial Emojis are encouraged to act like their intended role for their entire lives.invoked
  • Moral Dissonance: The movie works really hard to make sure you understand that Gene's an innocent victim and Smiler is a despicable control-freak dictator, despite the fact that everything she says about him is correct. Gene is not only directly responsible for the destruction of multiple apps, and for Alex wanting to wipe his phone, but he actually passes up several attempts to repair the damage he's caused (like when he leaves Akiko Glitter to die with the trolls, despite the fact that it was his fault she was there in the first place).
  • Never Say "Die": Instead of ordering the main characters "killed," Smiler orders them "deleted." Which is probably substituted for "die" in the smartphone world.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The theatrical trailer suggested that Gene was banished from the phone and sent to the loser lounge for flunking his first day on the job, instead of Gene having to flee into exile because of Smiler's bots being sent to delete him.
    • Some marketing material called Hi-5 "Gene's best friend" despite Gene never having met him until after he's first chased by Smiler's bots.
    • The scene in the trailer where Alex finds his phone mysteriously playing Candy Crush Saga during class is not in the movie. That was a few clips being edited into something way out of context.
    • Poop asking his son "What do we do after we go potty?" in the trailer is not in the film, instead saying "That's because I believe in you!" in response to his son bragging about working in the phone at the age of ten.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Gene's inability to just make simply one emotion actually results in several apps getting deleted and the entire phone getting erased temporarily.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Gene enters a Heroic B.S.O.D. because Jailbreak rejects his advances, in part because of his antiquated view about romance.
  • Obviously Evil: Smiler. It's hard to be shocked by the fact that she's the villain when every single shot of her in the trailers is trying to tell you she's bad. Aside from her being shown ordering the main characters' deletion, she's also shown picking her teeth with a meat hook at one point.
  • One True Love: Gene sees Jailbreak as the one for him, even giving up his goal of working on the phone in order to be with her. He even alludes to the Fairy Tales. It hits hard when she rejects him, becoming a permanent "meh." This suggests that he felt entitled to her.
  • Performance Anxiety: Gene panics over having to hold a Meh face for a few seconds, which kick-starts the story.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Gene's parents.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Smiler, who is constantly doing despicable things with a permanent grin on her face.
  • Plot Hole: Jailbreak hates sexism and gender stereotypes because she was once a princess emoji, and female emojis are only allowed to be princesses. Except that the film showcases multiple examples of female emojis who aren't tied to a gender-specific role, including Smiler and Gene's mom.
  • Product Placement: Not just for the Emoji iconsnote , but also for the real life phone apps that will appear in the film including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Shazam, and more. There's even whole sequences dedicated entirely to Candy Crush Saga and Just Dance.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Smiler is treated as a despicable Control Freak despite the dangers of an emoji making more than one face. Meanwhile, the film glosses over everything bad that Gene does, who doesn't even offer an apology. Gene leaves Akiko Glitter to die with the trolls, can't hold a face without panicking, feels entitled to fall in love with Jailbreak and his adventure actually accelerates Alex's decision to erase all the phone data.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Originally a princess emoji, Jailbreak despises the gender roles associated with them. This causes her to define her life in opposition to femininity, even down to rejecting romance. She seems to revert back to the exact opposite role by the film's end.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: A number of people who say from the trailers started calling it different X Meets Y variations including:
  • Running Gag: A surprisingly subtle one, as everyone wipes their hand off after touching Poop.
  • Skewed Priorities: Their world is about to come to an end, so they debate societal norms instead of trying to find a last minute solution. Also, you would also think that Smiler would have exclaimed that she was right all along instead of just shouting that Emojis must not make more than one face.
  • Stealth Pun: Gene is The Hero with a Thousand Faces
  • Stepford Smiler: Smiler even smiles when she is angry.
  • Talking Poo: Poop is a talking turd emoji.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Frequently used to establish emojis as female.
  • Toilet Humor: Poop — voiced by Patrick Stewart — is a major character who lives and breathes this trope. Also, he has a son, and after they use the bathroom, they make a joke about washing their hands, before laughing it off and chanting "We're number two!"
  • Totally Radical:
    • A very common complaint is how the film assumes teens and kids are all obsessed with smartphones and emojis, and tries to play to that interest. Matt Prigge of Metro US described the film as "The Poochie of movies."
    • A more specific example that happens in the movie itself is when YouTube is discussed. The clip shown is Pen Pineapple Apple Pen — a meme that, by the time the movie had premiered, had already been dead for roughly a year. Then again, that could be part of a joke.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The first main trailer gives away that Smiler is the villain.
    • The two trailers spoil the entire plot as well as the moral of the story.
  • Unmanly Secret:
    • Alex has Candy Crush Saga on his phone, much to his embarrassment when it suddenly turns when talking to Addie after school.
    • Alex also has a Just Dance app that he gets embarrassed when it suddenly turns on during class.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: If the villain had simply had her way, then the movie would be far shorter. And audiences would be better off as a result.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Smiler tries to delete Gene because she sees him as an existential threat to the safety of Textopolis.
  • Vague Age: The world of Textopolis exists in Alex's phone, meaning the city and everyone in it can't be more than a few years old, probably less than that. Despite this, there are somehow at least three generations of emojis living there and Gene and his friends all appear to be older than Alex. Maybe the emojis have shorter lifespans than humans?
  • Visual Pun: When the emojis panic upon learning of Alex's phone appointment, Poop is shown repeatedly punching a fan. In other words, shit hits the fan.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Gene's special ability.
  • Win to Exit: This happens in the game apps.

And remember kids, words aren't cool.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/TheEmojiMovie