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YMMV / The Emoji Movie

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  • Accidental Aesop: If your phone starts to act up, turn it off and turn it back on later, and/or run a scan on it. If your phone still keeps acting up, do a manual factory reset on it. If it STILL keeps acting up, don't bother keeping that stupid phone; just get a better replacement!
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Many viewers consider Smiler to be a reasonable leader, 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.
  • 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 movies it is accused of ripping off all managed to break 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:
  • Awesome Art: The character designs and backgrounds are very pretty (the occasional creepiness of said designs notwithstanding). The backgrounds are thoroughly complex and colorful, giving off genuine technological vibes, while the designs have a lot of attention to detail applied to them. It's no surprising that the art direction is thought to be the only good thing about the film.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Jailbreak does admittedly have a few fans (someone even shipped her with Wyldstyle, a character she tends to get compared to) due to her cool tomboy design and personality, but like 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • Cliché Storm: 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:
  • Critic-Proof: In spite of universal reviewer vitriol, the movie still turned up a small profit (grossing over $217 million on a $50 million budget), possibly due to Bile Fascination more than anything else, though.
  • 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. 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. Even more embarrassing is that his father was born with the mutation but learned to suppress it for the good of everyone around him, which makes Gene's actions look like potentially lethal criminal laziness.
    • 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.
    • Akiko Glitter serves as an antagonist, given that activating the Just Dance app was presented as an undesirable thing, she slows the heroes down allowing the bots to catch up to them, and threatens to drop them into the void if they can't keep up with her moves. However, her personality and the fact that the heroes seem to genuinely enjoy dancing with her meant that most viewers saw her as an unfortunate victim of Gene and Hi-5's antics, and thought that being deleted and abandoned was an undeserved fate. And slowing them down was Hi-5's fault in the first place because of pressing a big red button.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • As for characters who live in the phone, Akiko Glitter tends to be the one most people seem to like, particularly because of her undeserving and much criticized death.
    • 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. Others, however, don't see the appeal in a role that essentially amounts to "Patrick Stewart is a talking piece of poop that does nothing but make poop jokes".
    • Smiler also seems to be pretty well-liked, if the amount of people (including on this very website) believing that she's the real hero of the movie and supporting her antagonizing of Gene is any indication.
    • A few viewers admitted to enjoying Mel and Mary's Dull Surprise comedy, at least in comparison to the movie's otherwise over the top jokes.
  • 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.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Smiler is rather attractive for an Emoji.
  • Fridge Horror: When the Factory Reset is initiated, the phone's universe starts evaporating, and all the characters are fully aware of this, as implied by the Candy Crush voice stating 'Game Over' as the game is being erased, the utter panic of both the emojis and the malware as they futilely attempt to outrun the erasure, even the YouTube videos react in pain/terror. It's very similar to King Candy's Imagine Spot of Sugar Rush being unplugged in Wreck-It Ralph, only it's happening for real. Feeding into this, this is what happens every time someone deletes/trashes their phone in this universe. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • 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. Suffice to say, this was his last film before his allegations were revealed.
    • 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's Just Hiding!: Some viewers insist that Akiko Glitter somehow managed to escape the dump. Pressing the red 'X' on an app's icon doesn't delete it immediately, but merely removes it from the home screen and schedules it to be actually deleted the next day, so since the movie has Alex decide that his phone wasn't broken after all, he could have decided to restore the app before that time limit ran out.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The irony of the presence of the poop emoji in a film that placed at number two in its opening weekend was not lost on many commentators, especially considering how many critics had used the poop emoji to sum up the film's quality. Adding to the hilarity is Poop's "We're number two!" chant.
    • The very premise of the film itself becomes this after Apple released Animoji for the iPhone X, where the emojis there can make as many faces as they want. Gene would feel right at home.
    • At one point, Ilana Glazer was supposed to voice Jailbreak in this film before she was replaced by Anna Faris for unknown reasons. Her Broad City co-star, Abbi Jacobson, would later go on to voice Katie Mitchell in The Mitchells vs. the Machines (another Sony Pictures Animation-produced project) nearly four years later, which similarly focused on technology.
  • 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 and the excessive Product Placement in something supposedly meant for children, as well as the existence of kids' movies that are well-loved by everyone rather than being hated by even their own target demographic. Amusingly, it was submitted to the Oscars as well, meaning they clearly expected some sort of interest from them, invalidating the entire argument.
  • 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 was stolen directly from Wreck-It Ralph.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:
    • Patrick Stewart as the poop emoji, while being a very weird casting choice for many, it led some to watch the movie if only for that specific reason. The studio seems to have been aware of this, including giving a special mention during the credits with, "And Sir Patrick Stewart as 'Poop'."
    • Many people who saw the movie in theaters only did so to watch the Hotel Transylvania short "Puppy!" that played at the start. However, the same short was ultimately released on the Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation Blu-ray a year later.
    • There was also a DuckTales (2017) PSA about not using your phone in theaters, which interested many fans who were otherwise not interested. Said PSA was also linked with Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3 as well, though.

  • Memetic Mutation: The internet gladly memed 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.
      Jack: Hey honey!
      Erin: Hey honey.
      Jack: Uh... [starts corpsing] Do you wanna come with me to the world premier of The Emoji Movie?
      Erin: Not really.
      Jack: ... Too bad! [breaks out laughing]
  • 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 Tom Rothman greenlit The Emoji Movie. This video explains it all in detail.
  • Moe:
    • Gene and Jailbreak are surprisingly adorable in their own respective rights, especially due to their big expressive eyes.
    • 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: This film has many unintentionally hilarious moments.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: The widespread vitriol the film received no doubt contributed to its $217.8 million box office gains. Granted, it's a mild success considering the budget was $50 million, but still.
  • 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. This makes the whole metaphor come across as insulting towards those in the LGBT community, considering Gene nearly gets the phone reset because of his ability... which is inherited from his father.
    • 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 mean personality, poorly received character design, and the "feminist" message in question being completely botchednote  left many feminists more irritated than pleased.
  • Presumed Flop: The film is commonly believed to be a flop because people tend to assume that the premise (which was often seen as unoriginal and/or a desperate attempt to be "hip" and "modern") and scathing reviews (from critics and audiences alike) scared audiences away. Nevertheless, it made a profit ($217M worldwide on a $50M budget). It exceeded expectations on opening weekend, and opened in 2nd place against the critically acclaimed, Oscar-winning Dunkirk. Some of that was likely people seeing it out of Bile Fascination, but the studio doesn't care if you hate-watch it as long as you're still paying them.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Fans of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or The Owl House might recognize Tati Gabrielle as Addie.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Smiler is one of the most popular characters in the movie and what makes her even easier to root for is that everything she says is right, since Gene's inability to stand still to do his work does almost get the phone destroyed. Many people were really hoping she did kill Gene and the others. One critic said that he was "openly rooting for Gene to be executed."
  • 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:
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: Some people like shipping Akiko Glitter with Flamenca Dancer, based on their shared interest in dancing. These two characters never shared a scene, but it still manages to be a better pairing than the canonical Gene/Jailbreak.
  • So Bad, It's Good: The few people who do not see the movie as being average or a crime against all mankind instead view it as being so stupid and clumsily-handled that it becomes a straight-up unintentional laugh riot for how inept it is.
  • 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 whose dialogue consists entirely of poop jokes.
  • 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 Mel Meh emoji, intentionally or not, hinting 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.
  • Tear Jerker: Akiko Glitter, the Genki Girl from Just Dance, ends up being left to die in the trash after her app is deleted. One reviewer from Vulture points out the disturbing bleakness of the scenario.
    "When the Just Dance app gets deleted, Akiko's sent to the trash, alongside a few trolls and a spam email [...] There, with dead eyes, Akiko continues to run through the motions of her dance, the one thing she knows how to do, even though she now has no purpose and will soon disappear from existence."
  • 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 reminiscent of other 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, all of it consisting of unfunny Toilet Humor.
    • 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. 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 frequent complaint. She and the other characters they meet also never reappear during the Dance Party Ending, despite the film playing "Feel This Moment," ironically 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.
  • Too Cool to Live: Many people found Akiko Glitter to be one of the only genuinely likable characters in the movie... but she's also the only character to die.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously:
    • Despite the subject matter being clearly intended as a means of pandering to children rather than actually doing something new and interesting with it, as well as the 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: 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.
  • Uncertain Audience: 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."
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Smiler is unmistakably meant to be the villain and is painted as a Control Freak, but she is clearly acting out of altruism rather than a desire for power, and her goal is to prevent Textopolis' death. While she does try to kill Gene, Alex's habit of immediately deleting programs that act strangely makes her preoccupation with order and normality rather understandable, and she doesn't have many other options.
    • Akiko Glitter is treated as an antagonist, but she isn't acting out of malice and is just following the rules of the Just Dance app, which Hi-5 activated anyway. Combined with her Genki Girl personality, viewers generally felt that her being deleted and left with no choice but to dance in pure agony forever, with Gene not even bothering to save her was a tad too much.
    • 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. Did they deserve to be left in the trash to just be deleted forever? No, they didn't. When one of them tries to tag along with Hi-5 as he is rescued, 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 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 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 isn't too sympathetic himself. Sure, he stops the phone from being reset, but several apps were deleted because of him. 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: The animation is widely agreed to be one of the film's only saving graces. The movements are incredibly fluid and the visuals are well-structured with vibrant colors and a clear attention to detail. The Spotify scene is considered a standout. Even people like AniMat and I Hate Everything, who otherwise harshly panned the film, praised the effort that was clearly put into it.note 
  • 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, since they are viruses rather than people.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?: