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  • 8.8: Inverted. 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: A large number of viewers have questioned whether Smiler is really the tyrannical Big Bad the movie wants us to believe she is. Under her rule, Textopolis seems to be a clean, healthy and well-managed city free from any kind of crime or social problems, and the citizens we meet are pretty much universally friendly and good-natured towards Gene before he goes into work when they're trying to make us think that Fantastic Racism is in effect. From Smiler's point of view, Gene not only fails so spectacularly at a simple task that every other citizen accomplishes automatically on a daily basis, but fails so catastrophically that he destroys the workplace and causes the survival of the entire city - or possibly the entire universe from the emojis' perspective - to be severely threatened. And his flight from justice causes several apps to be deleted, but he does nothing to rectify the damage- even leaving Akiko Glitter to die in the trash can when it was his fault she was there - which makes him at the very least guilty of manslaughter or possibly mass murder if there were other emojis that we didn't see travelling through those apps when they got deleted. Sending him to be deleted is cold, sure, but the survival of Textopolis is at stake. From her perspective, the execution of one dangerous criminal fugitive who fled from the authorities is vastly preferable to The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Not to mention that his ability to make more than one expression would put countless other emojis out of a job, so to Smiler, Gene's existence represents, at best, mass unemployment, at worst, potential genocide and the destruction of her city.
  • 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, 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, though this could be an example of Bile Fascination as well), where the 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:
    • 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 Wyldstyle, 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 Wyldstyle 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).
  • 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.
  • Critic-Proof: Zig-zagged. On the one hand, for its first couple of days it comfortably topped the box-office, well ahead of Dunkirk despite the awful early reviews. Word of mouth soon spread about its poor quality, however, meaning that it had dropped to second place for the weekend as a whole, behind Dunkirk. That being said, it still made $25 million over the weekend, half of its budget and double the amount that Smurfs: The Lost Village, the studio's previous effort, made in its own opening weekend. Parents clearly care more about whether films are child friendly than the actual quality. The film was ultimately modestly successful at the box office; three months after release it had grossed over $215 million worldwide ($85.8 million domestically, $128.4 million internationally) on a $50 million budget (not including marketing costs), or $68.64 million budget when counting TV advertising.
  • Critical Backlash: Downplayed. A few reviewers have said yes, the movie is awful, but it isn't the end of all things good, and it even had some positive aspects; however, most audiences online tend to treat it as if it'll spell the end for Sony Pictures and usher in a new era of "___ Movies" that will be just as awful as this one, and official critics tend to be no less scathing about it.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Pretty much the only charitable explanation for the infamous "The Emoji's Tale" tweet, a parody of The Handmaid's Tale, is that they weren't familiar with the subject matter of the series. Otherwise it goes straight into Unfortunate Implications.
  • 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 undergoing major Character Development, his personality changes little.
  • Designated Villain: Smiler is played up as this depraved monster... when the gist of her motivations boils down to preventing her city's death. Not even in a power-hungry manner, to the point that she even allows some compromise until it's rejected by the heroes. At worst, she's a mildly unstable Well-Intentioned Extremist if not Hero Antagonist, and even then it's hard to see what other options she had. Sure, the movie acknowledges her perspective, but the fact that she was correct and considering that Gene is not particularly endearing in the first place makes it difficult to see her as villainous.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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, but it actually reminded him of the Seltzer and Friedberg films, which are Shallow Parodies notorious for being unfunny.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • 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 B.S.O.D. 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 Wyldstyle.
    • 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 claims 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.
  • Friendly Fandoms: More like friendly hatedoms. Since Teen Titans Go! to the Movies has been widely perceived online as dethroning this movie for the title of "the most hated movie on the Internet from the moment it was announced", people who love to bash on this film are pretty much unanimous with the ones bemoaning that one.
  • "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.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks!: Inverted. As listed in 8.8 above, the very few critics on Rotten Tomatoes who gave the film positive reviews (some of which only just barely qualified for "positive") received harsh criticism online for reviewing the film as being anything other than a crime against humanity.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • The scene with Mel and Mary in Alex's Instagram album of his trip to Paris.
    • After Gene makes the wrong face, the other emojis walk out of a meeting with Smiler. He tries to find out what's going on, but everyone completely ignores him. Everyone, that is, except Poop. He acknowledges Gene and is aware that he didn't mean to wreck everything. It's somewhat undermined, though, by the exchange between the two basically being another poop pun ("I know it was an accident, we all have accidents").
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: See here.
  • Hype Backlash: Inverted. The ire against this film has been so potent that several reviewers felt the need to point out that it's "merely" a really bad movie, not the end of all cinema, and even then, there are some people that honestly didn't think the film was really that bad as others believe it to be.
  • 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 27th, 2018.
    • In addition, the film very quickly wound up in the IMDb Bottom 100 upon release for the above reasons.
  • 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 in the end.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:

    M-W 
  • Memetic Mutation: Given the amount of hatred the film has gotten, the internet would of course gladly meme it to hell and back.
  • Misaimed Marketing:
    • Judging by the comments of many viewers, Sony's decision to release their first trailer narrated by an apathetic emoji (voiced by Steven Wright to boot) seemed to signal that Sony was completely indifferent about selling their movie in a way that would appeal to the audience.
    • A promotional image was posted on Twitter that parodied The Handmaid's Tale, a book and television series involving a woman enslaved by the government to produce children. Needless to say, it was quickly taken down after everyone pointed out that maybe this wasn't the best thing to make a joke out of.
    • In the weeks leading up to the film's release, Sony Pictures reached out to a YouTuber called Jacksfilms and invited him to the movie's world premiere, arguing that he was the movie's biggest fan (as he had done several videos praising it), and since most popular YouTubers have a demographic that consists mainly of twelve-year-olds, the executives probably wanted to use him and his videos to market the film. However, Jacksfilms' "praise" of the movie was entirely ironic, and he and every subscriber of his (who are mostly adults) were making fun of the movie, which was something the executives at Sony Pictures apparently failed to realize. His reaction at getting invited to the film's world premiere was priceless.
  • Mis-blamed: Many people have blamed the movie for the cancellation of Genndy Tartakovsky's Popeye movie and Lauren Faust's Medusa, when in actuality, the cancellation of both films happened during the Sony hack and the subsequent rearrangement of executive positions. Afterwards, it was only then that the new head of Sony Animation greenlit The Emoji Movie. This video explains it all in detail.
  • Moe:
    • Gene and Jailbreak are surprisingly adorable in their own respective rights.
    • Akiko Glitter, an athletic Genki Girl drawn in an Animesque art style who enjoys dancing.
    • Smiler, particularly in rare moments when she ironically isn't having a giant smile on her face she can be rather adorable.
  • Narm: Unsurprisingly, this film has many unintentionally hilarious moments.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • The movie is this to Sony Pictures Animation, who will probably have to take years to recover from the fallout of the film's overwhelmingly-negative reception. Even their previous effort before this, Smurfs: The Lost Village, seems Oscar-worthy by comparison. Even though the movie became a mild box office success (which was only due to people watching it out of Bile Fascination), SPA's mere association with this movie has ended up negatively affecting the roll-out of their future projects, including their next ones, The Star and Peter Rabbit, whose marketing campaigns have been subjected to scorn and mockery for looking like more of the same from Sony Pictures Animation (particularly their focus on cheap comedy, and in the case of the latter film, incorporating pop culture references and updating the setting to modern times, and also being an In-Name-Only adaptation), due to the fact that they made this film resulting in public perception as a company that has no standards and will shamelessly chase after popular trends instead of creating films with heart and passion behind them in a half-assed attempt to make money.
    • This movie has also severely tainted the reputation of Sony Pictures as a whole, in conjunction with their production and release of similarly hated movies like Pixels and Ghostbusters (2016). This has gotten to the point that their planned Shared Universe of movies centered around Spider-Man villains set to be started with Venom (2018) and Silver & Black has received derision for being yet another bad idea from a studio notorious for bad movie ideas in recent times, as well as Sony creating said films without Marvel Studios' involvement. Not helping is the fact that Amy Pascal, who greenlit both this movie and the hated Ghostbusters reboot, is one of the producers of Venom, which has led many people to swearing off watching the movie for that reason alone, since they take it for granted that the movie will be terrible purely due to her involvement.
    • While emojis may still be popular in the modern world, it's doubtful that they'll ever be adapted to anything else beyond this film. If anything, it could serve as a cautionary tale to other animation studios of what happens when you try to make current trends among youth that could end up fading into obscurity in the future into films.
    • The film is also noted for its abysmally-low scores on film rating websites. Initially, it boasted a rare Rotten Tomatoes score of 0% at the time of release, which gave it further unwanted attention. It's now at 9%, but still qualifies as one of the lowest-scored animated films in the site's history (lower than even Delgo's 12% and The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure's 25%), and its average rating is 2.7/10, which is lower than Norm of the North's 3.1/10. Similarly, it has a 12 out of 100 on Metacritic, becoming the lowest-scored animated film on that site, and in that case it scored lower than Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light (15 out of 100). The film even ended up on the IMDb Bottom 100 list (the movie sits at #83 as of this writing).
    • The film's infamously negative online reception is sure to be only exacerbated by the fact that it swept the Golden Raspberry Awards, winning four, the most of the ceremony. note  What makes this even more pathetic is the fact that it was the first animated film ever to be nominated for those awards, and it won every category it was nominated in.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: The film ended up becoming a mild box-office success, possibly because of the hate and loathing it received. This is a possible subversion though, in that the movie was only mildly profitable in the end, and the fallout from its overwhelmingly-negative reception has badly tainted Sony Pictures Animation's reputation to the point that two of their projects after this movie, The Star and Peter Rabbit also received massive backlash for looking like more of the same.
  • Offending the Creator's Own:
    • Director Tony Leondis, who is openly gay, once compared Gene's struggles with showing off his face-changing ability with how gay men struggle with coming out in real life. However, the fact that Gene nearly got the phone reset because of his ability, not to mention he inherited it from his father, made the whole metaphor come across as insulting towards those in the LGBT community.
    • T.J. Miller claims that this is a film where women have "limitless potential." Yet Jailbreak is extremely heavy-handed at pushing a pro-feminist message, but her unlikable personality, poorly received character design, and the "feminist" message in question being completely botched left many feminists more irritated than pleased.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: The film is probably more well-known for how using emojis as its main focus soon proved to be an Audience-Alienating Premise due to how Totally Radical it sounded, being a ripoff of Wreck-It Ralph, The LEGO Movie and Inside Out, being made by Sony Pictures, a company that has a track record of producing some of the Internet's most hated movies (as well as being greenlit by Amy Pascal, who also greenlit the infamous Ghostbusters reboot), having a poorly-written plot, poorly-written characters, somehow managing to pull an inverse 8.8,note  which resulted in inverse Hype Backlashnote  and supposedly being a replacement for two cancelled films about Popeye and Medusa respectively than the fact that it's even a film at all. If the controversy over its actual quality wasn't bad enough, a few months later the film would be dragged into the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal when T.J. Miller was accused by an ex-girlfriend of choking and punching her mid-coitus without her permission.
  • Rooting for the Empire: One critic said that he was "openly rooting for Gene to be executed."
  • The Scrappy: Hi-5. While none of the characters in the film were really considered to be very interesting characters in the first place, this one character is often singled out by critics as one of the worst characters, if not the worst character in the entire movie, and it's easy to see why; he's a prime example of how NOT to do a comic relief character. He frequently causes more trouble than he's worth, and also makes several groan-worthy puns and spouts cringeworthy dialogue, even within the film, which is not even mentioning how the animators literally go out of their way to shove him in the audience's face and make sure he steals the spotlight in every single scene he appears in so very often it hurts. By the time the trio makes it to Dropbox, Jailbreak is adamant that Hi-5 just stand around and do nothing. What little character he has is much less sympathetic than the other two heroes (which is basically just wanting to be popular again and that's about it) and he thinks that he has charm and charisma, but this unfortunately makes him seem incredibly selfish and only serves to make him more unlikable and even more of an overbearing asshole than he normally is. It doesn't help that the main characters go out of their way to rescue him when he faces certain doom, but not the more sympathetic character that he was trapped with, who was presumably left there to die forever. James Corden's obnoxious performance doesn't help one bit.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: One version of the teaser trailer is rendered entirely vertically, including the scene outside of the smartphone world, to fit on phones. Due to vertical videos having gigantic black bars when played on a computer screen, which are a universal pet peeve to many users on sites like YouTube, this did nothing to help the response to the trailer.
  • Self-Fanservice: Jailbreak has been sexualized quite a bit in certain parts of the Internet. No, seriously. It actually kind of helps that, of all the other emojis that appear the film, she's the only one who looks as if she's drawn with a full body.
  • Serial Numbers Filed Off:
    • The movie's title and premise don't even bother to hide that it was made in an attempt to cash in on the success of The LEGO Movie, with even the director describing it as Sony's own "Lego movie". It doesn't help that the female lead strongly resembles Wyldstylenote . She also resembles Chloe Price in appearance, if not in personality, and her subplot plays out like that of Vanellope's.
    • The "misfit going on an epic journey to find their place" plot and "inner workings of everyday objects imagined as fantastical landscapes" settings come straight from the Wreck-It Ralph/Inside Out playbook.
    • AniMat has also pointed out in his review that the film is basically a retread of SPA's own Smurfs: The Lost Village: both are set in worlds where the characters have only one character trait, the main character is an outcast, they go on a journey with their friends to forbidden lands and end up with a preachy message of being yourself.
    • A more subtle (and could very well be coincidental) case: A man has an abnormal quirk that's looked down upon by society, and he spends much of his life learning to suppress it. Later on in life, he has a son with the same quirk. That son messes up at what his kind is supposed to do because of said quirk, and the head honcho sees it as a danger to everyone else. Eventually, that same quirk ends up saving the day, and both father and son learn to embrace it. Are we talking about The Emoji Movie, or Happy Feet?
  • Snark Bait: Even before the trailer was released, the movie's flimsy premise and subsequently dull execution lent itself to mockery. It's also been viciously criticised for having so much blatant Product Placement that some critics consider it to be essentially a 90-minute advertisement, and for how it 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. The fact that SPA also made the infamous The Smurfs movies that were lambasted for similar reasons didn't help, either.
  • So Bad, It's Good: When it's not seen as being average or a crime against all mankind, the film is typically viewed as being so stupid and clumsily-handled that it becomes a straight-up laugh riot for how inept it is.
  • So Okay, It's Average: The very few people that didn't outright hate the film or consider it to be So Bad, It's Good considered it to just be average instead. Or, should we say, "meh".
  • Squick:
    • Hi-5, after playing Candy Crush and eating said candy, declares that he feels sick and will never eat another piece of candy again. Then he spits out a candy corn, and puts it back in his mouth, even after Gene tells him not to. And it has a spit droplet on it to boot.
    • Patrick Stewart's character is a sentient poop emoji.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Smiler is supposed to come off as a Control Freak, but she is in a Cosmic Horror Story in which her world could be eradicated at a teenage boy's whim.
  • Tainted by the Preview:
    • Almost everyone tore apart the teaser trailer upon its release, with many seeing it as everything wrong with the animation industry in present times. The fact that Mel Meh Emoji, intentionally or not, hinted at sequels in said trailer ("It's my pleasure to announce our first movie.") only further emboldened the backlash.
    • The release of the first theatrical trailer did nothing to alleviate the backlash, as it only confirmed the worst fears of many who felt that it would just play multiple tropes used in other animated films straight. Not only that, but the revelation that it would feature a scene dedicated to Candy Crush Saga caused people to fume. The inverse reaction also happened in that, while the trailer didn't win anyone over, it did convince some viewers that the film was at least trying to make something of its concept.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks!: Here's a fun drinking game: Scroll through any article on the movie and take a shot every time someone points out the similarities to The LEGO Movie, Inside Out and/or Wreck-It Ralph. You will die.note  Even plot points not spoiled by the marketing, such as The Reveal that Jailbreak is a princess are so blatantly ripped off from these films that many viewers have jokingly suggested that lawsuits be filed against Tony Leondis (who was also one of the writers for the film) and/or Sony.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Many of the emojis in the film rarely play a critical role, often being relegated to background characters or having brief lines. Of particular note is Poop, who despite being featured prominently in the marketing, and being voiced by Patrick Stewart, no less, only has around two minutes of dialogue throughout the entire film.
    • Of all the strange and unique emojis, you gotta wonder why they chose a simple facial emoji as the main character.
    • Quite a few people liked Akiko Glitter. The fact Gene doesn't even try saving her when going back for Hi-5 despite her still functioning and thereby preventing her from doing more is a complaint. She and the other characters they meet also never reappear during the Dance Party Ending, yet the film has the nerve to play "Feel This Moment" (a song performed by Christina Aguilera, the voice of Akiko). And speaking of that, despite being voiced by a very talented singer, never once does Akiko sing in the movie.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: See here.
  • Too Cool to Live: Many people found Akiko Glitter to be one of the only genuinely likable characters in the movie. Guess who's also the only character to die?
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously:
    • Despite the subject matter and relatively low budget, the animators clearly gave it their all, with at least one of them coming out and admitting they had a lot of fun working on the movie.
    • Both T.J. Miller and Patrick Stewart admitted to have actually enjoyed working on the film, especially when you consider that Miller himself initially didn't want to work on the film, having agreed with the people who thought that the concept was too ridiculous, and that Stewart didn't really have a lot of lines in the entire movie.
  • Trailer Joke Decay: Although calling them jokes would be generous, the aforementioned gag involving Hi-5 eating a piece of candy he just threw up has so far been featured in nearly every trailer for the movie. Same thing with the "We're #2!" gag.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The emoji character designs. Their limbs are all underneath large, heavily detailed heads, and look extremely distracting. The faces don't look much better either. The fact that they barely even resemble actual emojis doesn't help either.
    • Hi-5 can bend his thumb and pinky finger like arms, which looks like he is painfully breaking and disjointing them.
    • This mascot suit of Gene.
  • Unfortunate Implications:
    • This article points out how female Jailbreak is the only emoji to have a full body, as if the designers went overboard in establishing that yes, she's a girl.
    • For whatever reason, the movie's official Twitter account decided to post an image parodying The Handmaid's Tale, which is about a woman forced into institutionalized rape by an oppressive theocracy. This was widely criticized as tasteless and offensive and the offending tweet itself was taken down two days after it was initially noticed.
    • This review brings up that the movie suggests you can delete trolls in the same manner that someone can delete emails, apps and emojis. Anyone who is familiar with what trolls are can see a problem with this.
    • Some reviewers have pointed out how Gene reverting back to his "meh" personality after Jailbreak rejects his romantic advances conveys the message that you can't ever truly be yourself unless you snag a romantic partner.
      • What follows from this is that women shouldn't peruse their dreams, they should confine themselves to being the Love Interest. Note that Gene's character arc was about valuing freedom while Jailbreak's was about conforming.
    • The icing on the cake is having Hi-5 sing a song parodying "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," an African-American spiritual sung by slaves to keep their spirits up through times of hardship.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Smiler at the end of the movie where she's sent to the loser lounge, her centre teeth broken, and forced to wear a massive retainer after being crushed by her own robot. You sorta wanna give her a hug, if you're willing to forgive her trying to murder Gene and his father even after the former had his malfunction fixed, even if it was out of heartbreak of getting rejected by Jailbreak.
    • Alex's habit of immediately deleting programs that act strangely makes Smiler's preoccupation with order and normality more understandable.
    • After "Just Dance" gets deleted, Akiko Glitter doesn't know how to do anything else, so she has no choice but to dance in pure agony forever, with Gene not even bothering to save her. As a result, people refuse to believe that they're not supposed to care for her.
    • Even the trolls are subject to this. While they are jerkasses, being well, trolls, all they really did was insult Gene and Hi-5, telling them both that nobody cares about them. In a meta sense, they're right. Did they deserve to be left in the trash to just be deleted forever? No, they didn't. The fact one of them tries to tag along with Hi-5 as he is rescued, being to saved, only to be kicked back down into the trash, makes them a bit endearing as well.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Gene's father, Mel Meh is also able to make more than one face, and has hid it from everyone in his life. However, this raises the question of why he didn't help Gene figure out how to hide being able to make more than one face all this time, nor even tell him about the fact that he wasn't the only emoji capable of doing so. He also doesn't seem to try and sympathize with Gene, or show any understanding for something he himself suffers from and passed onto Gene.
    • Gene loses a lot of sympathy points as well. Sure, he stops the phone from being reset, but several apps were deleted because of him. Not to mention, he doesn't even try to rescue Akiko Glitter when he goes to save Hi-5 from the trash, when he himself was responsible for her being there. As well, there's his panicking upon being picked by Alex and his inability to make a single face, which really shouldn't be too hard.
    • Hi-5's self-centered and arrogant personality made him come across as unlikable to many audience members. When he gets sent to the trash, there's a good chance you will not feel sorry for him.
    • Jailbreak has zero sympathy points as well. While we're meant to relate to her for not wanting to be the sexist symbol she was designated to be, her flat and cold personality as well as her general pretentiousness makes it impossible to relate to her in any way.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: A lot of people consider the animation to be one of the film's few saving graces, being very fluid and having well-structured visuals, especially the Spotify scene. Even people like AniMat and I Hate Everything, who otherwise harshly panned the film, praised the effort that was clearly put into it.
  • 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?:

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