Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / The Emoji Movie

Go To

    open/close all folders 

  • 8.8: The author working at Common Sense Media gave the movie a 3/5 in a decidedly mixed review; however, it turned out that was just enough to count as a "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, thus keeping the movie from having a 0% Tomatometer rating. As such, she received a bit of flak for this, though it lessened after another critic (from Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día) gave the film an outright positive review, and a third gave the film a similarly mixed review in which they deemed it just barely watchable.note 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Many viewers consider Smiler to be a reasonable mayor, rather than the tyrant that the film tries to present her as. Under her rule, Textopolis seems to be a clean, healthy and well-managed city without any crime or social problems, and the citizens we meet are genuinely friendly and good-natured. Smiler wants to eliminate Gene not only because he fails at an easy task that every other citizen accomplishes automatically, but also because his failure is so catastrophic that it destroys the workplace and threatens the survival of the entire city from the emojis' perspective. Gene's flight from justice causes a lot of damage (including at least one death), and he does not even try to rectify it. His inability to stick to only one expression could put countless other emojis out of their jobs, so to Smiler, Gene represents mass unemployment and the potential destruction of Textopolis.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: The film hasn't fared anywhere near as well outside of the U.S. — or at least, English-speaking countries, since it actually did respectably well in the UK — with its international gross taking six weeks just to equal its Stateside gross, which is something practically unheard of for an animated film from a major studio (not that US and English audiences liked the movie much anyway). The hatedom is much worse in Spanish-speaking countries, especially in Mexico and Spain (which, ironically, were the two highest-grossing non-English markets in the world, though this could be an example of Bile Fascination as well), where professional critics gave tepid reviews with even xenophobic undertones.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Despite subject matter more suited for pre-teens and teenagers, the movie targets a very young audience with its cutesy characters/environments, a simple plot and having very little conflict. This also isn't helped by the fact that the movies it is accused of ripping off all broke out of the ghetto in their own ways. This is even reflected with the on-demand advertising, which says that it's good for a kids movie night even though G rated and PG rated animated movies are advertised as for families, as in not "just kids only", but for "both kids and adults". Ironically, even they hated the film.
  • Anvilicious:
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: The mere thought of having an entire feature-length film about emojis didn't tick with many. The movie's real demographic problem was summed up best in this review:
    "With its bright colors and cute characters, The Emoji Movie clearly was made, presumably by adults, for young kids, even though it's about technology in a way that a person has to be at least a pre-teen in order to appreciate. It's a movie that's too bland for adults, too cutesy and juvenile for teens and pre-teens, and too confusing for kids. In other words, it's a movie for no one, except all of the companies that signed on to have their mobile applications and games blatantly promoted without a lick of shame on the part of the filmmakers."
    • There's also the fact that despite being aimed toward younger audiences, the movie constantly carries a sense of contempt toward younger people, especially with regards to technology, essentially shoving a middle finger in the face of the intended audience.
  • Award Snub: Given how reviled this film is, people generally wanted it to win bad awards.
    • Hilariously, Sony decided that this movie would be good enough to win Oscars. Unsurprisingly, the film wasn't even nominated.
    • Surprisingly, the movie was not nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for "Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel".note 
    • An extremely jarring inversion occurred during the 2018 Kids' Choice Awards, where the film was nominated for "Favorite Animated Film". Similarly, it was also nominated for "10 Best Family Movies of 2017" for the Movieguide Awards. It makes one wonder how low their standards are for a movie like this to even be nominated.note 
  • Awesome Art: Say what you want about the movie, but the designs and backgrounds are very pretty, especially in Dropbox and Spotify (the occasional Uncanny Valley of said designs notwithstanding).
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Jailbreak does admittedly have a few fans (someone even shipped her with Lucy, a character she tends to get compared to), but like pretty much almost everything else in the movie, she certainly is not without her haters for the belief that she's a carbon copy of Lucy and that her being a princess was stolen directly from Vanellope.
    • Gene himself, even to detractors. Some still find him one of the more tolerable characters in the film due to his well-meaning nature, while others feel that his character flaws are far too blatant to completely ignore and find it one of the contributions to the movie's bad quality.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In the middle of Smiler's meeting in one scene, she is so angry, she said she needs something happy to lighten the mood. Cue the Gavel emoji whistles for Flamenco Dancer emoji to cheer her up. Smiler just said "Not that happy" and pushes the Flamenco Dancer emoji away. Given that it lasted at least 10 seconds, it was never mentioned again.
  • Bile Fascination: No other theatrically-released animated movie has received so much hatred on the Internet since Norm of the North, with a large majority of people only watching the film just to see how bad it would be (which, ironically, led to the film becoming a mild box-office success, though fortunately not enough for Sony to greenlight a sequel).
  • Captain Obvious Aesop: It's good to Be Yourself because being meh all of the time is not so great. Who would have guessed? This part of the movie is rarely seen as a deep message about emotional repression because it feels too contrived, being handled without subtlety or nuance, leading to many moments of unintentional hilarity with how it assumes that the audience is ignorant of such a blatantly-obvious message. The approach that Inside Out took was much more meaningful because it actually explored the usefulness of the more negative emotions instead of simply preaching to Be Yourself, which wouldn't help people who suffer from conditions like depression.
  • Cliché Storm: Infamously so. One of the film's biggest criticisms is that it is an unashamed mishmash of animated movie clichés from its era, as highlighted in this video comparing it (or more, merely its trailer) to the many, many works that it is derivative of. People had even begun (correctly) predicting the plot beats, characters, and the ending for this film since before the posters were even released: the generic protagonist who doesn't fit in goes on an adventure seeking to conform. Along the way, he meets an obnoxious comic relief and a generic tough girl who happens to be a princess dreaming of more while being hunted down by an order obsessed villain. She is defeated, which results in a giant dance party. We also get the timeless message of being yourself when the movie itself lacks an identity, and the movie makes sure to ram it down the audience's throats at every opportunity.
  • Critical Backlash:
  • Critical Research Failure: The film has many errors in its depiction of the technologies it's centered around, and this has cemented its reputation as a target for mockery:
    • The phone would not have been deleted, but given a factory reset.
    • Most phones do not have "firewalls" in the traditional sense.
    • Trolls aren't malware like viruses or Trojan Horses. They're actual people. You would think that Sony would know this after having to deal with them on films like Ghostbusters (2016).
    • A factory reset can be performed by the user, using the phone itself, and it doesn't need to be taken to a repair shop for that to be done if the user has the technical know-how to do it, and said technical know-how can be easily looked up on the Internet.
    • An emoji has no code; it's an image (which is internally stored as a Unicode character), therefore, it can't be reprogrammed. What can be reprogrammed is the code that puts the emojis in a text, but even then, it's already in the phone and there's no need to go to the cloud to change any code. In fact, the cloud wouldn't be housing any sort of code necessary for the use of emojis, as they already come pre-installed in phones as Unicode characters.
    • Guessing random words until you get the correct password is not a form of hacking. You’d think that Sony would know this after their infamous hack.
  • Designated Hero:
    • Gene is supposed to be the hero, but several apps were deleted because of him, all with little remorse. What's even worse is that his parents offer him the chance to gracefully back out, but he insists on going into work just to elevate his own self-esteem. Jailbreak even calls him a hero despite causing all the problems in the first place. The movie clearly wants us to believe that Fantastic Racism is in effect towards Gene because of his malfunction, but no one is particularly rude or unfriendly towards him until after he destroys his workplace. Not to mention, when the Just Dance app gets deleted along with Akiko Glitter and Hi-5, he doesn't even consider trying to save Akiko, leaving her to likely be erased from existence if Alex ever empties his trash bin. What makes matters worse is that the app is only deleted because of a problem that Gene caused.
    • Hi-5 spends much of the film as a self-centered narcissist concerned with popularity more than anything, and causes way more trouble than he's worth, up to including indirectly causing Just Dance to get deleted by turning the app on in the first place. And while the film tries to portray him as an undergoing major Character Development, his personality changes remarkably little.
  • Designated Villain: Smiler is played up as a Control Freak when really, she is only trying to prevent Textopolis' death. Smiler is clearly protecting the city out of altruism, as opposed to a desire for power. At worst, she is a mildly unstable Well-Intentioned Extremist and, even then, Smiler had very few options. Overall, it is difficult to view Smiler as a monster because she is justified in marking Gene as a threat and, even otherwise, Gene himself is not particularly endearing in the first place.
  • Don't Shoot the Message: Despite the film's message about expressing yourself, it was panned mercilessly by critics for being an unimaginative Cliché Storm filled with blatant Product Placement.
  • Dork Age: This film is universally considered to be the nadir of SPA's filmography and yet another black mark on Sony Pictures (after they produced and released films like Pixels and Ghostbusters (2016) that also caused massive Internet Backdraft), due to containing many of the flaws in SPA's films without any of their redeeming qualities, such as blatant Product Placement, an unoriginal story and Totally Radical dialogue in an attempt to be relevant, along with a helping of mishandled and awful morals, unfunny humor and an idiotic and flimsy premise that practically screamed Totally Radical, as well as being a blatant attempt to cash in on The LEGO Movie without anything that made that film work. The fact that it was greenlit by the extremely unpopular Tom Rothman hasn't helped, either.
  • Ear Worm: "Good Vibrations" by Ricky Reed (a.k.a. Wallpaper). Many have said it's a shame a perfectly fine pop song was wasted on a movie like this.
  • Eight Deadly Words: With almost all of the characters being flat, annoying, and/or just plain unlikable, you can't find yourself rooting for anyone to make it through in the end (especially with the film's generic plot meaning that the protagonists will survive), with the exception of Akiko Glitter, who is the only character to die. There is also the fact that Gene has what Bobsheaux claimed is "probably the most depressing character motivation I've ever heard in my life." Add to it that The Mysterious Mr. Enter said that it doesn’t remind him of Inside Out, Wreck-It Ralph, The LEGO Movie, or even Toy Story (films that it blatantly rips off), but it actually reminded him of the Seltzer and Friedberg films, which are Shallow Parodies notorious for being unfunny and terrible.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Many people agree that the human characters look much more interesting than the actual emojis, as they don't fall into the Uncanny Valley like the emojis do.
    • As for characters who live in the phone, Akiko Glitter tends to be the one most people seem to like. Her death was a criticism.
    • Poop is also the most popular of the emojis, only due to having the voice of Patrick Stewart. Many viewers would have preferred he take the place of Hi-5 in the mission, as he would have been at least a little more tolerable.
    • Some reviewers have taken a liking to Mary and Mel Meh, due to their subplot's jokes of stating their emotions with a blank face and monotone voices being Actually Pretty Funny.
    • Smiler has gained a following a people who argue that she's the real hero of the movie, or who at least approve of her quest to murder the wholly unlikable protagonists.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: If Alex learns to take advantage of Gene's special ability, then several of the most popular Emojis would be out of a job. Looks like Smiler had another reason to be wary of Emojis expressing more than one emotion. Since the loser lounge is still functional despite Smiler's defeat, they might possibly be sent there one day.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • The filmmakers implied that Gene having to hide the fact he can make more than one face is meant to be a metaphor for the trials and tribulations of the LGBT community. Gene learning to be himself by the end of the film would've made this a legitimately good metaphor until you remember that Gene actually inherited his face changing ability from his dad, and when he accidentally reveals that he can make more than one face, it almost causes the phone to be reset. So yeah, by this line of logic, expressing your unique identity will likely bring down the apocalypse on everyone around you. There is also the problem that Gene goes into a Heroic BSoD when his female love interest rejects him. Apparently, the film seems to think that not getting a heterosexual love interest is a legitimate cause for depression.
    • Your crush just rejected you, well it's totally normal to fall into a permanent state of "meh." The fact that she said no is completely unacceptable and so it's up to her to come back so that you can feel better about yourself. It's not like Gene should have learned how to maturely handle these situations. It turns out that you can only truly Be Yourself if you get to be with your One True Love.
    • Some critics have mentioned how the film seems to be essentially indoctrinating children to keep using their smartphones at all times and download the apps advertised in the film without any thought for the negative consequences of using their smartphones all the time. This especially shows when Alex didn't have to ask Addie out by talking to her, his phone just needed to send her an Emoji, and this actually saved the day. These messages are prevalent while the film barely even attempts to critique people's obsession with their phones, just making it seem unavoidable.
    • The entire movie hammers in that Gene can be more than a meh emoji but Jailbreak on the other hand, she reverts back to being the princess emoji she was before. So the male character can be more than what role they are born in but the female character has to conform back to the role she was assigned to. Yay?
  • Fandom Rivalry: Well, if the movie had any fandom to speak of:
    • A Popeye movie directed by Genndy Tartakovsky was (often mistakenly believed to be) put on the backburner for this — so given the widely-negative response to the film's premise, a number of fans of the cartoon/comic strip have expressed disdain for this movie. That being said, there are some fans of Tartakovsky who are fine with the fact that his movie got iced, since it gave him an opportunity to uncancel Samurai Jack and give it an actual ending after several years.
    • The LEGO Movie fans see the film as a blatant attempt to emulate that film's success. It doesn't help that this film's female protagonist, Jailbreak, looks near-identical to Lucy.
    • The Dark Tower film was pushed back to August so that this movie would be released on July 28. Needless to say, fans of Stephen King weren't happy. However, the reception to that film wasn't great either.
    • And of course, the Inside Out and Wreck-It Ralph fandoms who hate this film for aping them both in many ways.
    • The In a Heartbeat fandom of all things, due to the fact that IAHB, a four-minute-long kickstarted short made by a small team, was a million times better than a sponsored, large budget movie with an All-Star Cast. Adding more fuel to the fire, one of the main characters is helped by an eccentric heart that looks a bit like an emoji itself.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Gene is ultimately able to help Alex finally get into a nice budding relationship with his love interest. This becomes disgustingly ironic with T.J. Miller being accused of very violently sexually assaulting a woman, which was revealed within the same year the film was released.
    • The film's obnoxious and unintentionally hilarious Be Yourself message is also ironic after a former friend of Miller's revealed him to be a vicious transphobe after she called out one of his jokes.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: See here.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • Jeremy Jahns' review of the movie points out that Alex is nervous about sending a text to a girl he likes... despite him having her phone number to send said text.
      Jeremy Jahns: This freshman in highschool [is] trying to muster the guts to send an emoji text to this girl that he likes. But he gets nervous 'cause he can't talk to her. Though apparently, he got her phone number. He talked to her enough to get her phone number, so there's that. Now he's gonna be nervous about sending her an emoji? Dude, you're already like halfway there! Stupid.
    • Critics such as Brad Jones and Bobsheaux noted that Gene's "multiple-face" trait is pretty much a non-issue by the film's own logic. As long as he makes the right face when getting scanned, how he acts off-duty doesn't really matter; it's no different than an actor in a play - they go onstage, perform a role for a few hours, then go back to themselves. The nonfacial Emojis are not expected to stay in character 24/7, for instance Poop was allowed to change his facial expression just before being scanned.
    • There are many parts in the movie where characters are shown walking around the apps rather than going through them without being caught by the bots, showcasing that the main characters didn't need to go through numerous apps to get to their goal. The only reason that they needed to do so was for the film's obnoxious Product Placement to be possible.
  • Internet Backdraft: Quite literally everything about this movie has resulted in a significant denomination of the Internet getting severely pissed off: the mere idea of a feature film based off of emojis, the fact that it's a Sony production (after Ghostbusters (2016), one of the most controversial movies pre-release in the history of the Internet, and their track record of releasing critical and/or commercial bombs, such as The Smurfs and The Amazing Spider Man 2), the plot points taken from more popular movies and especially the fact that its greenlighting came in the wake of the cancellation of both Genndy Tartakovsky's Popeye movie and Lauren Faust's Medusa movie.note  The edit wars and vandalism got so bad that The Other Wiki gave an extended protection locknote  on its article on this movie until January 27, 2018. Even then when the lock was finally lifted, the very next day the vandalism returned and it was locked again (this time with a weaker semi-protection locknote  lasting until January 29, 2019).
    • In addition, the film very quickly wound up in the IMDb Bottom 100 upon release for the above reasons, and anyone who gave the movie reviews that could even be remotely considered positive received very harsh online criticism for reviewing the film as being anything other than a terrible crime against all mankind.
  • It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars: Some people actually tried to defend this movie with the excuse that "it's made for children", but many, many others pointed out the near-complete lack of effort on the film, as well as the existence of kids' movies that are well-loved by everyone rather than being hated by even their own target demographic.
  • It's the Same, So It Sucks: As noted multiple times on this very entry, the Internet as a whole despises this movie for its blatant ripping off of many, many, many other better-liked animated films. The first trailers were viciously ripped apart online for their nearly beat-for-beat repetition of tired animated cliches, and it got even worse when at least one plot twist appeared to be stolen directly from Wreck-It Ralph.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • Smiler is the villain. Which isn't exactly a spoiler since this is shown in the trailers.
    • Jailbreak is secretly a princess emoji.
    • Akiko Glitter dies horribly.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:

  • What an Idiot!:
    • Alex takes his phone to the electronics center to have its data erased after seeing some apps act strangely and accidentally sending "the wrong face".
    • Gene panicking when he is picked by Alex instead of making and holding a single facial expression.
    • When the main trio is sneaking through the Just Dance app to reach Dropbox, Hi-5 decides to turn the app on for no reason when Jailbreak explicitly said not to, alerting the bots to their location and almost causing them to all get deleted.
  • The Woobie: Akiko Glitter becomes this after Just Dance, her home and purpose in life, is deleted. She's then sent to the trash along with Hi-5, some trolls and a spam emoji. Even worse is that Gene didn't even bother saving her when he came to save his best friend.
  • Woolseyism: The Latin American Spanish dub changes the names of the trolls to the more fitting name of trojans instead, since they are basically viruses rather than people.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: