The Emoji Movie struggles to know its audience from the very beginning. It wants to be an earnest film about the wonders of the inside of a smartphone, but also wants to mock teenagers for depending on them. There is quite literally no one that this film is for. Essentially a Dropbox advert masquerading as a children’s film (seriously, Dropbox is a plot point), this Inside Out knockoff completely lacks any of the joy, wonder and pathos of the film that it so blatantly copied from.

All you can say about the performances is that they are there, and the characters have nothing beyond the faces that they are assigned. Poop makes poop jokes, the smiley emoji jokes about smiling, and none of the jokes actually land. You’ll probably just feel sorry for Maya Rudolph, Anna Faris and Patrick Stewart, who all really deserve better.

The Emoji Movie is like if a film tried to cheat on a test but copied the answers wrong. Its attempt to appeal to children is totally misguided and it completely indulges in Hollywood’s worst commercial instincts as well as famously terrible ideas from children’s movies – for example, the pitiful dance that ends the film.

This is one of the rare cases where the screeches of agitated children in the screening were more welcome than anything in the film. Adults might try and blame children for this (“they’re obsessed with phones now!”) but this film is so severely lacking in imagination that it’s hard to think any child would bother with it.

The most relentlessly soul-crushing and creatively bankrupt film of the year, one wishes that this movie could be erased from existence – but for now, let’s hope that the burning wreckage acts as a warning to never, ever do this again. 



CAST: T.J. Miller, Anna Faris, Sofía Vergara, Patrick Stewart, James Corden, Maya Rudolph

DIRECTOR: Tony Leondis

WRITERS: Tony Leondis, Eric Siegel 

SYNOPSIS: Gene, a multi-expressional emoji, sets out on a journey to become a normal emoji.