The Emoji Movie is a 2017 American computer-animated comedy film directed by Tony Leondis and written by Leondis, Eric Siegel and Mike White, based on the emoji symbols. It stars the voices of T. J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Rob Riggle, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofía Vergara, Sean Hayes and Patrick Stewart. The film centers on Gene, a multi-expressional emoji who lives in a teenager's phone, and who sets out on a journey to become a normal meh emoji like his parents.
Produced by Sony Pictures Animation, and distributed by Columbia Pictures, The Emoji Movie premiered on July 23, 2017 at the Regency Village Theatre, was theatrically released in the United States on July 28, 2017 and has grossed over $160 million worldwide. It received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics, many of whom compared it unfavorably to The Lego Movie, Inside Out and Wreck-It Ralph.
|Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
The film starts with a bunch of high school students walking around, all immersed in their smartphones. We travel inside the world of a smartphone belonging to a freshman named Alex. The Emojis live in the city of Textopolis, and each of them performs the same function they were designed for. Gene is supposed to be a "meh" Emoji like his parents Mel and Mary, but unlike all the other Emojis, Gene has multiple expressions and feelings, which has made him something of an outsider.
Gene is set for his first day as an official Emoji, despite his parents not having much confidence in him. He goes to the station where he meets Smiler, the head of the text center who was the original Emoji. Among other popular Emojis are the Devil, Fist Bump, Flamenca, and even Poop. All of them stand in the cube where they are scanned and sent from Alex's phone.
In the human world, Alex gets a text from his crush Addie. He wants to send her an Emoji, so he starts to select Gene as he is in the cube. However, he panics as he is uncertain what face to make, and he causes Alex to send a weird Emoji to Addie. Gene then latches onto the scanner and causes destruction to the cube.
Gene is called to Smiler's office. She tells Gene that because of this mishap, he is a malfunction and must be deleted to prevent anything else happening to the phone. She sends her AV bots after him, but Gene runs into the lounge for popular Emojis. The bots find him and start to cause chaos, but Gene is helped by formerly popular Emoji Hi-5 to avoid detection.
Hi-5 brings Gene to the Loser Lounge where Emojis that never get used hang out. Gene tells Hi-5 about his dilemma, to which Hi-5 proposes that they find a hacker named Jailbreak to reprogram Gene to be a regular meh Emoji so that he won't get deleted. The two of them sneak out of the lounge so that the bots won't see them, and they flee Textopolis.
Mel and Mary realize Gene is missing, so they go searching for him. One of the bots sees them leaving, which Smiler can see through a surveillance camera. She sends more bots to go find Gene.
Gene and Hi-5 explore some of the other apps in the phone, including Facebook. They reach a piracy app where they hope to find Jailbreak. It appears to be a bar of sorts for trolls, viruses, and spam bots. The two find Jailbreak, who isn't interested in helping them until she sees that Gene makes multiple faces. Smiler's bots then enter and start causing trouble by deleting the patrons, forcing the other three to run.
Jailbreak proposes going to the phone's Dropbox to reprogram Gene and so she can live on The Cloud. They first pass through Candy Crush, where Gene gets stuck inside the game. The other two match the candies to the same colors until they are able to free Gene. However, their actions in the game cause the sound effects to play when Alex is trying to ask Addie to the school dance, causing him to look weird in front of her.
The trio then go into the Just Dance app where they meet the avatar Akiko Glitter. They must dance in sync with the game if they want to proceed, or else they will fall to their doom. Gene helps Jailbreak find her groove and dance. In the process, her hat flies off to reveal that Jailbreak is an escaped princess Emoji. As they reach the end of the game, the bots show up and program themselves to dance. This causes the app to make noises during Alex's class, which embarrasses him. He deletes the app, forcing the trio to run to the exit. The bots are destroyed, but Hi-5 is pulled into the trash by one bot.
Gene and Jailbreak are close to the Dropbox, but Gene wants to go to the trash to save Hi-5, and he convinces Jailbreak to help him. They use music streams from Spotify to head to the dump faster. During this time, Jailbreak tells Gene she likes him the way he is.
Having had enough of his phone's screw-ups, Alex sets an appointment for the next day to have his phone wiped clean. The top Emojis catch wind of this news, and Smiler sends an upgraded bot to go after Gene.
Hi-5 is lamenting his fate in the trash with the rest of the deleted characters. He finds an email that Alex meant to send to Addie proclaiming his feelings for her, which included his use of Hi-5, but Alex never sent it. Gene then comes down on a rope to save Hi-5 and pull him out.
Mel and Mary have an argument (or about as well as two meh's can argue) about why Gene is the way he is. They separate but later find each other in Alex's Paris trip photo album on Instagram. Mel admits that he also has multiple expressions and feels responsible for how Gene is. He reconciles with Mary and they continue to head out to find their son.
On their way to the Dropbox, the trio are found by the upgraded bot. They manage to lose it and they hit the Firewall that blocks the Dropbox. They try to find out the password, but Gene keeps getting burned with each wrong answer. Hi-5 mentions the e-mail to Addie, revealing that her name is Alex's password.
The trio enter the Dropbox, but before Gene can be reprogrammed, he realizes he has feelings for Jailbreak and tries expressing it to her. She likes him too but doesn't want to abandon her plan to live on The Cloud, since she felt like a stereotype being a princess Emoji. Heartbroken, Gene voluntarily takes on the meh face and heads back home, but is promptly captured by the upgraded bot. Hi-5 runs to tell Jailbreak. She uses her princess powers to whistle and summon a Twitter bird to take them back to Textopolis.
Gene is brought back to the text center just as Alex makes it to his appointment. Smiler prepares to have Gene deleted, but Mel and Mary rush in to stop her. Mel reveals his many faces, which makes Smiler throw him in to get deleted as well. Hi-5 and Jailbreak burst through the ceiling and fight the upgraded bot. Jailbreak shuts it off, and the bot falls on top of Smiler. Unfortunately, Alex's phone is plugged in, and everything on the phone starts to get wiped. Gene enters the cube as Jailbreak scans him. With his multiple expressions, Gene gets Alex's attention, as all the faces represent how Alex feels about Addie. Alex sends Addie the text, and she likes it. She tells Alex she'll go to the dance with him. Alex unplugs his phone, and the Emojis are safe.
The Emojis all see Gene as a hero. He becomes the first multi-faced Emoji, while Hi-5 is popular once again, and Jailbreak resumes her role as a princess. The Emojis then all have a dance party.
During the closing credits, Smiler has been sent to the Loser Lounge and must now wear dental headgear after the bot fell on her.
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- T. J. Miller as Gene, an outsider "meh" emoji who can show multiple expressions.
- James Corden as Hi-5, a hand emoji representing a high five signal.
- Anna Faris as Jailbreak, a codebreaker emoji who is later revealed to be a princess emoji named Linda.
- Maya Rudolph as Smiler, a smiley emoji and leader of the text center.
- Steven Wright as Mel Meh, Gene's emoji father.
- Jennifer Coolidge as Mary Meh, Gene's emoji mother.
- Patrick Stewart as Poop, a poop emoji.
- Christina Aguilera as Akiko Glitter, a "super cool" dancer that lives inside the Just Dance app.
- Sofía Vergara as Flamenca, a flamenco dancer emoji.
- Sean Hayes as Steven, a devil emoji.
- Rachael Ray as Spam, a spam message.
- Jeff Ross as an Internet troll.
- Jake T. Austin as Alex, a human teenager who owns the phone where Gene and his emoji friends live.
- Tati Gabrielle as Addie McCallister, Alex's crush.
- Rob Riggle as an ice cream emoji.
The film was inspired by director Tony Leondis' love of Toy Story. Wanting to make a new take on the concept, he began asking himself, "What is the new toy out there that hasn't been explored?" At the very same time, Leondis received a text message with an emoji, which helped him realize that this was the world he wanted to explore. In fleshing out the story, Leondis considered having the emojis visit the real world. However, his producer felt that the world inside a phone was much more interesting, which inspired Leondis to create the story of where and how the emojis lived. As Leondis is gay, he connected to Gene's plight of "being different in a world that expects you to be one thing," and in eventually realizing that the feeling held true for most people, Leondis has said the film "was very personal".
In July 2015, it was announced that Sony Pictures Animation had won the bidding war against Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures over production rights to make the film, with the official announcement occurring at the 2016 CinemaCon. The film was fast tracked into production by the studio after the bidding war. Unlike most other animated films, the film had a production time of 2 years, as there were concerns that the movie would become outdated due to the evolution of phone technology.
On World Emoji Day on July 17, 2016, T.J. Miller was announced as the lead. Leondis created the part with Miller in mind, although the actor was initially hesitant to play the role, only accepting after Leondis briefed him on the story. Leondis chose Miller because "when you think of irrepressible, you think of TJ. But he also has this surprising ability to break your heart". in addition Miller also contributed some re-writes. In October 2016, it was announced that Ilana Glazer and James Corden would join the cast. Glazer was later replaced by Anna Faris. According to Jordan Peele, he was offered the role of "Poop", which he would go on to state led to his decision to retire from acting. The part would ultimately go to Patrick Stewart.
The film's score was composed by Patrick Doyle, who previously composed the score for Leondis' 2008 film Igor. Singer Ricky Reed recorded an original song, "Good Vibrations", for the film.
In November 2015, Sony had scheduled the film to be released on August 11, 2017. A year later, it was moved to August 4, 2017, with Baby Driver initially taking its previous date. In late March 2017, the film was moved one week earlier, to July 28, 2017, switching places with The Dark Tower.
The film's theatrical release is preceded by Puppy!, a Hotel Transylvania short written and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.
The Emoji Movie grossed $86.1 million in the United States and Canada and $131.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $217.8 million, against a production budget of $50 million.
The film was released alongside Atomic Blonde in the United States and Canada, and was projected to gross around $20 million from 4,075 theaters in its opening weekend. The film has made $900,000 from Thursday night previews and $10.1 million on its first day. It went on to debut to $24.5 million, finishing second at the box office behind Dunkirk. It actually held the record for the worst opening for a film in over 4,000 theaters, until it was surpassed two weeks later by The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which had an opening of $8.3 million from 4,003 theaters. In the film's second weekend, it dropped by nearly 50%, grossing $12.4 million and finishing in 3rd (behind The Dark Tower and Dunkirk).
The Emoji Movie received near-universal hate from both critics and audiences. Several major outlets called it one of the worst films of 2017. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 7% based on 129 reviews, with an average rating of 2.67/10. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 12 out of 100, based on 26 critics, making it the lowest rated animated film of all time on the site. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a D, writing: "Make no mistake, The Emoji Movie is very, very, very bad (we're talking about a hyperactive piece of corporate propaganda in which Spotify saves the world and Sir Patrick Stewart voices a living turd), but real life is just too hard to compete with right now." Alonso Duralde of TheWrap was also critical of the film, calling it "a soul-crushing disaster because it lacks humor, wit, ideas, visual style, compelling performances, a point of view or any other distinguishing characteristic that would make it anything but a complete waste of your time".
Glen Kenny of The New York Times described the film as "nakedly idiotic", stating that the film plays off a Hollywood idea that the "panderingly, trendily idiotic can be made to seem less so". Owen Gleiberman of Variety lambasted the film as "hectic situational overkill" and "lazy" while viciously criticizing the film, writing: "There have been worse ideas, but in this case the execution isn't good enough to bring the notion of an emoji movie to funky, surprising life." Writing for The Guardian, Charles Bramesco called the film "insidious evil" and wrote that it was little more than an exercise in advertising smartphone downloads to children. Writing for the Hindustan Times, Aditya Dogra acknowledged that viewers had noticed the similarities of The Emoji Movie to Inside Out, The Lego Movie, and Wreck-It Ralph.
- Sony Pictures invited YouTuber Jacksfilms (whom they considered "the #1 fan of the Emoji Movie") to the world premiere and sent him a package containing Emoji Movie memorabilia. Jacksfilms had praised the movie four months prior, although it was sarcasm and he was actually making fun of the movie.
- Saudi Arabia lifted a 35-year ban on movie theaters on January 13, 2018. This was the first movie publicly shown in the country. It was played in a film festival in Jeddah, as a double feature with Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie.
- In the Latin American Spanish version, the name of the character Jailbreak was changed to "Lady Hacker".
- According to T.J. Miller, this was the fastest produced animated movie in history.
- The film's original title was Emojimovie: Express Yourself.
- Sony hosted a press conference in Cannes the day before the 2017 Cannes Film Festival to promote the film, which featured T.J. Miller parasailing in. Variety had called the event "slightly awkward" and The Hollywood Reporter described it as "promotional ridiculousness".