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Headscratchers / The Emoji Movie

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  • Why is Smiler the villain again? Her motivation seems to simply prevent the extinction of their phone's world. It's not like this movie has a nuanced view on morality, so why is the person trying to save lives the asshole?
    • While Gene does screw up when being scanned, that alone did not cause Alex to schedule the appointment. Smiler is the one that attempts to kill him, sending him running which is what leads to him and the others running around the other apps which actually leads to Alex scheduling the appointment. Gene may have ended up seeking help from jailbreak anyway, but if not for Smiler, they could have just walked to dropbox and reprogrammed him to be a true "meh" without setting off the other apps.
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    • I think the moment that sums up her villainy is when she opts to have Gene and his father deleted, despite the fact that both of them have already overcome their malfunctions and are just normal emoji at that point. I think that was the moment where even some of the other emoji felt she was going too far.
    • She wanted to murder an innocent Emoji for the sake of saving those people. She could have let him find Jailbreak and reprogram himself, or she could have listened to him when he said that it was just a goof. But no, her first instinct was to murder.
      • Yes but she was doing it to save her people. Muder one to save the many.
      • But wasn't Gene's condition fixed at the end, and she still tried to delete him? That would be like the police dealing with a hostage situation where the instigator has put down his weapon, let the people go, and surrendered himself - the police wouldn't be able to shoot him and then say they were protecting innocent people. The threat was already gone by that point.
      • Yeah all jokes aside about Smiler being the "true hero" of the story, Gene just wants to live. Smiler wants to kill him. The fact that other options (repressing his emotions like his dad did, getting reprogrammed, or just plain not being allowed to have a box) exist and yet she immediately goes for the murderous one are villainous enough.
  • So...why doesn't Gene just make the face when he is being scanned and go about his day afterwards making whatever face he wants?
    • How else would the plot drive itself?
    • Because all the other emojis will know that he's different and ostracize him. Which they did.
      • Why should they though? Showing more emotions outside of work wouldn't affect anything.
      • I think you're looking at this the wrong way. Different types of emojis aren't actors with specific roles, they're races with their own place in society determined by a caste system. Everyone has their role and they should stay in that role no matter what. Gene is a meh, so he's expected to act like one. Jailbreak was a princess, so she was expected to act like one. So yes, making a different expression than the one you're meant to do wouldn't really affect anything, but doing so would be taboo.
    • He tried to make the face. He was just never able to keep it long enough.
  • If most emojis can only be males.. how come Gene has a mom and the LEADER of the emojis is a woman?
    • I haven't seen the movie yet, but after reading the YMMV page (and also spoiling the plot for myself), the answer seems to be...feminism.
      • Not really. If the emojis are supposed to be similar to the human world, as in they have their own lives and homes and families and such, it would be weird if there were no women emojis. In real life emojis don't have a 'gender' - it's a little symbol on a screen, so there's no reason they can't be male or female in the movie. There may be emojis that are 'obviously this is a woman/man making this face' or whatever but something like an eggplant or thumbs up isn't. Plus, it's a marketing issue too - children's movies are usually aimed at all kids, not just boys or girls, so in order to appeal to as many kids as possible they include both male and female characters.
  • Why don't the emojis just use a camera instead of the scanner? That way, problems like Gene wouldn't happen.
    • It would be harder to transfer information from a camera. Also, there could be problems such as blurry images and lens smudges.
      • How would it be harder to transfer? They'd only ever need a single picture of each emoji. Also, those can be prevented.
  • What happens if someone makes a text with like 30 smiley emojis? Would that mean there are literally 30 emoji people inside the phone?
    • Maybe the same emoji gets scanned multiple times.
    • Or maybe the scanner controllers are able to use the scanned information multiple times.
  • If the emojis are sentient, shouldn't all the letters and symbols on the keyboard of the phone be sentient too?
  • Why didn't Smiler notice that Gene was making more than one facial expression when she was giving her introductory speech?
  • Why do emojis need to reproduce?
    • They're not immortal. It's been established several times that they age and can be killed.
      • If that's the case, then how long do emojis live? People tend to replace their phones every year or two, so that's not a lot of time for an emoji to get older and have children. For that matter, both of Gene's parents are Mehs. Why exactly does the phone need two emojis of the exact same emotion?
      • Assuming emojis age the same way humans do. And the phone needs replacements if the last emoji dies. Again; they're not immortal.
      • OR, Alex could transfer his data when he gets a new phone. This creates an exact copy of the world, and the emojis can continue on as if nothing had happened. Because of this, the emojis need to make sure they grow, as they are like people in the smartphone world.
  • If Mel has the "malfunction" too, why does he still talk in monotone the entire movie?
    • It's probably just habit at this point.
  • If the face emojis have no physical option to make different faces, then why does Gene say "the pressure is on" for them to act one way through their entire life?
    • It could be that he is an Unreliable Narrator who is far too different to truly understand the world of Emojis. Or simply a matter of lazy World Building on the part of the writers.
  • What exactly created the "malfunction"?
    • Gene's father has the same ability (changing expressions), and it was passed down to Gene, so maybe it was a mutation in whatever the emoji equivalent of DNA is.
  • Why was Smiler (the villain) used in the Handmaid's Tale "parody"? Are they implying rape victims are evil control freaks?
    • Seems they just made a poorly thought out reference and didn't even think that maybe joking about a story where women are forcibly raped and used for making children is... bad.
    • Perhaps someone thought the idea of a bright, grinning face peering out from the drab oppressive garments was an amusing contrast.
  • Why was Steven (the devil emoji) given so much spotlight in the promotional material? He got his own poster, and yet Jailbreak (one of the main characters) didn't.
  • How can an emoji be deleted?
    • Emojis can be removed and/or replaced with updates to the phone's software (OS).
    • Or, if the phone is jailbroken/rooted (as Alex's is shown to be), this can be done through unofficial modifications.
  • Would a princess emoji's parents be a king and queen emoji?
    • If not, one would have to assume that their parents would both be princesses? Are there male princess emojis? Is the child of a princess guaranteed to also be a princess?
      • The last speculation sounds the most plausible. Ignoring the Plot Hole, Jailbreak explicitly states that female emojis can only be princesses. So I doubt there would be any male ones. And I don't see any King and Queen emojis on my keyboard.
  • What were those entities identified as "trolls"?
    • Probably a Take That! on behalf of Sony towards all the people who bashes its movies on Youtube (as they are presented as the stereotype of the adult nerd). In-universe is hard to tell, as real life trolls are people and not software, unless they are implying that there are softwares that cause the trolling in the internet in a similar way how Spam works.
      • Maybe they think they're bots?
    • Mayhaps the trolls we see are anthropomorphic representations of the accounts of real trolls that Alex has blocked in his phone’s YouTube app or something.
  • What happens inside the smartphone world if the phone is simply powered off?
    • Maybe a blackout. I mean, a blackout is when an entire city loses power. When you turn off your phone or if the battery dies, the phone no longer has any power but all the data inside it is just fine.
      • That would imply the phone is on 24/7.
      • Maybe it is. Personally, I never turn off my phone unless I absolutely need too. Like if I'm on a plane or need to restart it. In every other occasion I just put it on vibrate or silent, and I don't bother to turn it off whenever I charge it. But that's just assuming Alex's phone habits are similar to mine.
  • How can a total wipe of a phone be canceled and reversed simply by unplugging the phone from the store computer?
    • Either the filmmakers just swept that logic aside so that there could be a happy ending, or they have no idea how technology works.
    • Maybe it isn't even set in our ages, it's subtly implied to be set somewhere / sometime (Centuries, which is the most likely one, due to the Moore's law) where much more developed technology could've been made, in which the smartphone could've had the power of a current top supercomputer, which would've allowed it to do some nigh impossible procedures for a phone, like uploading a file swiftly through the operator's USB, and then, outright deleting the file in the phone (Not factory resetting), in a very short time, (Something which takes very long with current technology, how it's done now, for comparison, is, that file is just thought not to exist, and then, eventually overwritten by installations, new data...) For swift checking, and then, inserted back in the phone, after through checking at the data on the phone, with emergency procedures in case of failure for avoiding permanent damage (As no warning was shown before starting the procedure, implying these situations were for safety and very common) Why may be this done though? Remember what I said about very advanced computing in your phone?
    • The movie is set in the present: Alex's birthday is October 11th, 2002. (It's the first password Jailbreak tries.)
    • Out of all the flaws present in this movie, I don't find this one to be that egregious. Just the other day, I tried wiping all the data on my iPad, unplugged it halfway through, turned it back on, and found that everything was still there. So it's not impossible.
  • What happens inside the smartphone world if an app crashes?
    • When an app crashes, all it's doing is closing itself. It's probably no different from when you close an app yourself.
  • Does the messaging app crash (in Alex's world) when there is chaos in Textopolis after the malfunction (Gene) is discovered?
  • So Akiko from the Just Dance game who didn't do anything wrong nor was ever mean to anyone, and who was actually very nice, ends up waiting for her death just because the main characters screw it up and cause her app to be erased?. Isn't that kind of cruel?
    • Alex did not know that the emojis and other beings in his phone were sentient, and the main characters did not mean to screw it up; they were just trying to get to Dropbox.
      • They could've at least tried helping her or getting her out when they went to the trash.
      • Akiko's app is gone, so if she was rescued, she would be homeless and out of a job. She might end up in the cloud, which is like Heaven, where she would get everything she wants and does not need to have a job.
    • OP here: I get that the scene is intended as Dark Humor, fine. No matter how disturbing is the idea and how mean-spiritted is the joke of seeing a character basically awaiting execution while crying. But then the real headscratcher will be; isn't kind of out of character for the main protagonists not to try to save her?
    • I frankly don't see how it could even be intended to be humor. What's supposed to be funny about it?
    • OP again: I personally didn't find it funny, quite the opposite, but I get that some people might and I presume it was the writers' intention. I Hate Everything in his review said it was the only part of the movie he found funny (though he might be speaking sarcastically). That said, Dark Humor does have a place in comedy, Life of Brian has plenty, problem is it's kind of out of place in this particular movie, for me it felt mean.
    • Overall, I think that the film's creators just didn't see Akiko as that important, and didn't want to put time into having Gene save her when she had nothing to offer to his personal journey. You don't intentionally design a movie to have characters you don't like, after all - they built the film around Gene and the journey he goes on with his friends with the misconception that audiences would be entertained by that and didn't regard Akiko as important, so they pretty much brushed her off. They didn't realize that audiences would be more interested in her than any of the other cast members.
      • The only possible addition she could have brought to the movie would be to show that Gene is selfless and thinks of others even if they aren't any use to him. Oh, wait, that's also known as Character Development. Feels to me like a Waste Of A Perfectly Good Plot as the person who helped bring out Jailbreak's princess side was left to die. And it must have been important because the movie thought it was worth putting two starkly conflicting Aesops in the movie for it.
    • It's almost like the people who made this movie are really clueless and had no idea what they were doing.
  • If the sole reason Smiler is in charge is because she is "the first emoji" (which I'm pretty sure is false) how does anyone know that?
    • I think the answer depends on what they mean by "first emoji". If it means "the first emoji listed on the phone's keyboard", then yes, she indeed is the "first emoji". If it means "the first emoji ever created" or "the first emoji to appear when the phone was first turned on", unless there were any witnesses to back up the claim, it's probably just propaganda.
    • Smiler's being 'first' could also possibly be in reference to her being the first emoji ever used by Alex. Which she may have taken to mean that she was a favorite, or being first chosen could be a thing of authority among emoji. With everything after that just being her taking advantage of the other emojiville's inhabitants' naivety to place herself in charge. Especially since Jailbreak, who may have taken charge of the other emoji as the princess had she not left, was not present to say otherwise.
      • Was she actually working though? I don't recall her actually waiting to get scanned or anything.
      • Smiler mentions having a cube at one point and we can see her in said cube during the scene where Gene is botching his first day on the job. So yes. She WAS working and waiting to be scanned.
  • Do emojis and other beings inside the phone go to the Cloud when they die (get deleted)? Is the Cloud the equivalent of Heaven for emojis, and is there an emoji equivalent of Hell?
    • The Could was never mentioned to be like heaven, it probably serves the same function as it does in Real Life.
  • Of all the emojis for Alex to send to Addie, why on God's green earth did he want to send a "meh"? Was there any kind of context? Some sort of ongoing conversation? Or just, "Well, I like this girl, so I'll send her a face that looks kind of disappointed."
    • He probably wanted to pick what he thought was the "cool" option. You know, like, "Whatever. I don't care 'cause I'm cool like that."
    • I guess it depends on what was he answering, which the movie doesn't provide context IIRC. For example if Addie's question was "Are you worry for next week's exam?" then "Meh" does make him look cool. If the question was "Would you like to go to the movies with me" well... yes, that's pretty much suicidal.
  • Why does the "megabot" (the big bot at the end sent by Smiley as last resource) does not kill Gene at once, just captures him and carries him to Textopolis where he would be executed in front of everyone incriminating Smiley?
    • It was for drama, basically.
    • That's as good as a reason as A Wizard Did It.
    • Is it possible Smiler wanted it done in front of her, to ensure that Gene was completely deleted?
      • Fair enough, but that still begs the question as to why she tried to do it in front of everyone else when she could have just as easily done it in her office or something and just told everyone that Gene got deleted in an accident traveling through the phone.
    • She wanted his death to be an example to those who might try, or unwillingly end up out of line. Also, it's probably a power tactic; she gets the job done while flexing her proverbial muscle in front of everyone.
  • Jailbreak complains that female emojis can only be princesses or brides. Fair enough, except Smiler and Mary are both women and neither are princesses/brides. Heck, Smiler is explicitly stated to be the original emoji. What gives?
    • I'd imagine she meant emojis that are specifically designed to be male or female. From the perspective of someoneone using the phone, smiley or meh emojis are typically neither one nor the other. Meanwhile, I don't think I've ever seen a "policewoman" emoji, but I've certainly seen a basic "policeman" and a "princess." I'm not particularly well-versed in my emoji-ing, and there might be plenty of "independent" female ones, but that could've been what Jailbreak was saying: that she thinks people don't go out of their way to design female emojis unless they're in a role that is subservient to a male.
    • When I was watching Mr. Enter's take on the movie, there was a clip of the poop emoji shifting into what we usually see on the screen as he was being scanned. Perhaps it's the same for Mary and Smiler—they might be female in Textopolis, but when they're scanned, they shift into normal, non-feminine emojis on the screen. That could have been more in line with Jailbreak's complaint—not that female emojis of other kinds don't exist in Textopolis, but that brides and princesses are the only kinds of emojis that exist as female when they're actually doing the one thing emojis exist to do.
  • Why do Gene and his parents have actual names, but other emojis are just referred to by what they symbolize or represent?
    • Because Gene is the protagonist, and the other emojis, but for a few, some sentinent background.
    • We all know the meta reasons, but the idea of the headscratchers is to find in-univere explanation. Anyway, in this case might be that the emoji name is like the last name. Gene and his parents are the Meh family and have the Meh surname, all other characters like Poo, Devil, Smiley, etc. have a first name but is never said on camera.
    • Then why doesn't Gene ever learn the first names of Jailbreak and Hi-5, if he spends most of the film travelling with them and considering they're supposedly his friends? B.) You'd think that the filmmakers could've come up with more applicable names for them, names that tied into their respective emotions somehow, instead of going for a bit of a Stealth Pun with Gene and some Added Alliterative Appeal for his parents.
    • For what it's worth, a blink-and-you-miss-it line near the beginning has a Christmas Tree emoji being called "Tim".
  • In the climax, why did Mel tell Gene that he was wrong for not believing in him in the first place? In the context of the film, he was right. He gave Gene the chance to prove himself and he royally screwed it up, and at that point, Gene has done nothing to fix any of the problems (most of which he caused) the emojis are currently faced with. I know, "touching father-son reunion moment", but context-wise, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
    • The only possible explanation I can think of is the possibility that the baggage and pressure of the fact that his father didn't trust him in this role contributed to Gene's breakdown, and if Mel had had more faith in his son from the start, things would have gone a lot smoother. That said, if this was the reason, it could have been portrayed far better.
  • Ironic that Jailbreak wants to change what she is: a princess, but when Gene mentions he wants to change, she tells him to be what he is.
    • Are you accusing Jailbreak of being a hypocrite? Because I think she was referring to the act of conforming, not the act of being what you were born as. Jailbreak didn't want to conform and Gene did. By telling him he's cool just the way he is, she's telling him that conforming to society's standards is overrated. It's better to be who truly are than be what society expects you to be.
    • Ok, but why Did she decide to stay in Textopolis (Or whatever the city is called) and not continue her dream of going to the cloud? She has the password and there's no bots chasing after her, just a stroll down down to the Dropbox app. And it's not because "oh well now she's working in the scanner so that 'makes it all better' because we see other things taking care of it before she was there. And for all her feminist talk, nothing changed in the movie. There's no empowering "female emoji's" created or something, like "Hey *insert female* why don't you try to be the Angry face today?" or something.
      • One of her big reasons for leaving was that she didn't want to conform, she just wanted to escape and be free of her restrictions. She went back because she learned to not value her own freedom and went to save Gene. Now that being yourself isn't a problem in Textopolis, she can live an easier life.
  • Why did Gene ask "where's Hi-5?" when he just witnessed him being taken away by a bot?
    • Maybe he wanted to know where he went when the app got deleted, or where the phone's trash bin was.
  • How come the first time Gene makes multiple expressions while being scanned, the image sent is one of a still image, but when he does it again in the climax, the image changes expressions?
  • How did Gene try and take credit for Jailbreak's "idea" of using Gene's multiple facial expressions to get past the firewall? He figured out what her plan was after explaining the firewall bit, but before she told him about his role. He never suggests it was his idea either.
    • I feel like that was meant to be a joke at Jailbreak's expense, that she's just assuming sexism right off the bat. Whether the joke worked or not is up to viewer discretion.
  • Alex starts deleting apps when they start making random noises. Why doesn't he try force quitting his apps first or turning his phone off and then on again before deleting them altogether (it's possible to download them all over again, but still)?
    • Panic caused him to just do the first solution he thought of?
  • Why did Alex want to DELETE his phone? He never uses the word "reset" once; which would imply he intended to render the phone completely inoperable by deleting EVERYTHING, right down to the OS' source code. Why not just reset it?
    • Maybe he means "reset" even though he keeps saying "delete".
  • I don't think there's a mention of Akiko Glitter anywhere here without describing her fate of being left to rot in the phone's trash bin because Gene didn't bother trying to save her. But does the movie ever say that she was actually completely deleted? Couldn't Alex just take Just Dance out of the trash and resurrect her?


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