The Emoji Movie is directed by Tony Leondis and stars the voices of T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara, and Patrick Stewart.
Let's just cut the crap and get right to it: The Emoji Movie has one of the dumbest concepts for a movie ever and is probably the dumbest concept for a movie that I have ever seen up until this point in my lifetime. I thought Jaws: The Revenge had the stupidest concept I had ever heard of (and it still is very much stupid), but when stacked next to The Emoji Movie, Jaws: The Revenge's concept looks like a creativity goldmine. As the great Roger Ebert once put it, it's not what a movie is about, but how the movie is about that thing. This, unfortunately, does not apply to The Emoji Movie, for it's a movie whose what has no hope, no potential, no dignity.
There is one thing that we do learn from The Emoji Movie: Hollywood's creative thinking tank is officially empty. Anything, and I mean anything, is now fair game for Hollywood to consider making a movie out of. Board room meetings among Hollywood producers and executives now go something like, "Hey, remember that movie that came out a while ago and developed a fan base over time? Let's give it a sequel!" or, "Do you remember that toy or fad that was popular at one point in time? Let's make a movie out of it!" All of the laziness, creative ineptitude, and heartless branding that embody the Hollywood business industry today are on full display in The Emoji Movie, for it is a film plagued by lazy humor, a glaring lack of imagination, and rampant product placement. There are simply too many ways one can go about attacking The Emoji Movie's jet black heart of malevolence and greed, and I'll get to the major ones as we go along this review.
For now, it makes the most sense to discuss the basic plot before I get my hands dirty with all of the horrific wrongs of this movie that I have easily declared the winner of Worst Movie of 2017. The Emoji Movie mostly takes place inside the phone of high school student, Alex. Inside Alex's phone is a world known as Textopolis (not Emojiville or Emojiworld or anything like that and is supposed to be the world inside everyone's phone), where all of the phone's emojis live. Gene (T.J. Miller) is a "meh" emoji living in the phone, but he is capable of making many other expressions besides "meh". The Emojis are brought into cubes where a scanner scans them to send up their information whenever Alex decides to use a certain emoji in a text. Alex is crushing on a girl at school named Addie, and he decides to send her an emoji text. Alex decides to use "meh", and the scanner chooses Gene, who is having his first day in his cube. Gene panics, and the resulting text is a confusing expression. Confronting Gene is the text center supervisor, Smiler (Maya Rudolph), who declares that Gene is a malfunction and must be deleted. Smiler unleashes a group of bots to hunt down and delete Gene, but Gene runs away and meets up with the Hi-5 emoji (James Corden), who tells Gene of a hacker named Jailbreak who could help reprogram Gene into a normal "meh" emoji. The two then set out on a journey throughout the phone, causing issues for Alex in his world.
The first trailer for The Emoji Movie dropped back in December 2016, and it unleashed a fire storm of hatred and disbelief similar to the one brought on by the 2016 Ghostbusters. In the months leading up to the film's theatrical release, people everywhere were anxiously wondering, "Is is really going to be that bad?" Turns out, The Emoji Movie is that bad. It is so bad, that I don't hesitate for a second to call it one of the worst animated movies that I have ever seen. I mean, we all knew it was going to suck based on what the teasers and trailers showed us, but even if we had held the slightest bit of optimism that the film could bring another Lego Movie-esque surprise, it was just a matter of time, waiting and waiting until the movie came out and confirmed our worst fears. As I mentioned already, The Emoji Movie had no potential from the get-go, because how much can you do with those cute little faces that are on your phone and get sent through your text messages?
One thing The Emoji Movie does is blatantly steal from other, better animated movies, but without any freaking clue about how to recapture the magical charm of those better animated films. The animated movies that people bring up the most when discussing what animated films that The Emoji Movie copies off of are The Lego Movie, Wreck-it-Ralph, and Inside Out. Among these three, Inside Out is the big one, as both Inside Out and The Emoji Movie involve two different worlds that know almost nothing about one another, yet the events going on in one world impact what's going on in the other world. In Inside Out, the adventures of Joy and Sadness affect what's going on in the life of Riley. In The Emoji Movie, the antics of Gene impact the state of Alex's phone. There's really no contest when trying to decide which is a more interesting world to explore: a human mind or a phone. As much as The Emoji Movie fails in replicating the success of Inside Out, the other animated movie to mention is Toy Story. Director Tony Leondis has stated how much he loved Toy Story, wanting to do a new take on Toy Story's concept, but with a toy that no one had explored yet. Leondis then received a text message with an emoji, and that was when he decided, "That's it! Emojis are the world I want to explore!" So basically, The Emoji Movie was inspired by someone who watched Toy Story and said, "Hey, that was amazing! I want to do that too!" When your director has mentioned how his inspiration comes from the success of another movie and wanting to duplicate it in a different way, you're in a bad spot my friend.
- Even when you get past the whole "ripping off better animated movies" stage, it is still impossible to forgive just how flimsy and goddamn stupid that The Emoji Movie's script is. The world of Textopolis doesn't have anything remotely interesting about it, and the way the film explains how the emojis work by getting scanned by a giant finger scanner isn't creative in the slightest. In the opening minutes, Gene, in voice over, mentions that emojis are the most important form of communication ever invented. Oh, and if you didn't walk out by that point, it doesn't stop there. Any and all remaining prayers that you might have for The Emoji Movie to be at least halfway decent are shot down when you hear lines like, "What if you get sent out on the phone, making the wrong face?" And then you have the obvious product placement slip-ins ("Don't worry! This app is secure!"), and you are left in further disbelief that fully grown human beings sat down in a room and came up with this garbage. But wait! It gets EVEN WORSE!
- Awful dialogue isn't all the script kills your spirits with. There are two horrendous subplots on top of an already horrendous main plot, one being Alex's attempt to win over Addie, the other concerning the relationship between Gene's parents (we are to assume that emojis are capable of breeding...I refuse to proceed any further with that topic), who I'll just call Mom Meh (Jennifer Coolidge) and Dad Meh (Steven Wright). Everything involving Alex concerns his efforts to send Addie an emoji text, (the film never explains how the two got each other's phone numbers, which would suggest that the two have some sort of prior connection), meaning that the film's human romance story completely hinges on the success of one single text message. I don't know about you, but I highly doubt kids nowadays hook up solely by text messages and emojis. It doesn't make any sense, and it's unbelievably stupid. What teenage girl is going to get together with a guy just because he sent her a neat-looking emoji text? And speaking of romance, the subplot concerning Gene's parents involves the two potentially splitting up. That's right, the lethargic Meh emojis are having problems in their relationship. I mean, it's obvious why it's there. It's all for the sake of a bad joke about near emotionless emojis going through an emotional struggle, and it's driven into the ground until there's nothing but dust remaining.
And, of course, I just cannot end this review without briefly discussing the great Sir Patrick Stewart playing the poop emoji. The poop emoji only appears in the beginning of the film and close towards the end, but he's only there for some utterly lame poop jokes, because, y'know, kids just LOVE poop jokes and the writers just couldn't help themselves knowing that a poop emoji exists. But aside from lazy bathroom humor, The Emoji Movie settles for jokes and references that are more shallow than a dried out kiddie pool, completely devoid of wit and refusing to assume that the audience is smart (actually, the movie doesn't offer any proof that it's respecting its audience at all).
It is not enough to say that I hated The Emoji Movie. I hated every second of it, but hate was not my dominant feeling while watching it. More than hatred, I felt depression, depression that I had to accept the fact that this movie truly exists, depression that a film whose inner mechanics that are made up of bad comedy, product placement, and material shamelessly copied from somebody else's work was released in theaters and targeted at children, depression that Hollywood and the cinema, the latter one of the chief joys of my life, would stoop so low so as to green light a movie about freaking emojis. It is not charming or funny or creative in any conceivable way. No, The Emoji Movie is an experiment in trying to destroy charm and humor and imagination, having the foolish notion that children and their minds are merely confined to the world of their phones and are incapable of being wildly creative and imaginative. Yes, it's true: Phones play a big part of people's lives and, sometimes, a little too much. But The Emoji Movie makes no effort in making a meaningful commentary on the way people are attached to their phones. It takes people's phone addictions for granted and uses them as a platform to advertise waning phone apps while also attempting to deliver a "be yourself" message that is of the most cliched of messages normally found in children's films. I hesitate to say The Emoji Movie is a children's film, because it only causes damage and puts constraints on the curious minds of children, and I certainly wouldn't want any small children that I know to go anywhere near The Emoji Movie. This is a movie that needs to be buried deep into the Earth and erased from the cinema history books for all time. Correction: The Emoji Movie is not even a movie. It doesn't deserve any thin satisfaction from being called a movie; it's a heartless, cynical bag of trash that should be erased from all existence, because the world and everyone in it will be much better off not knowing that The Emoji Movie was ever a thing.
Recommend? What do you think?
Might sound crazy but it ain't no lie
The Bye Bye Man is directed by Stacy Title and is based on "The Bridge to Body Island" chapter in the book The President's Vampire by Robert Damon Schneck.
If you were deterred from seeing The Bye Bye Man in theaters simply because of how laughably bad of a title that it has, then by no means should anyone wish any ill will upon you. The Bye Bye Man is a movie that perfectly represents the worst of the worst when it comes to bad horror. For starters, it holds the dubious distinction of being January horror, the worst time of release - movie genre combination that I can probably think of. And then if you can somehow leap that hurdle, you will then come to see that it's yet another horror movie that involves some sort of monster-ghoul-spirit thing that comes to torment a cast of who-the-hell-are-these-people characters, all of which amounts to something you'd only expect to see around 3 AM on a Thursday on the Syfy channel. But I would think even the Syfy channel executives would have a hard time suppressing a laugh at hearing something like The Bye Bye Man, because that name makes even Sharknado sound like the coolest name ever. It does my heart a little good knowing the fact that some of the unforgiving folks on the internet went to town with the poster and the name. Here are some that people came up with:
So, yes, The Bye Bye Man is the actual name of the the supernatural entity that is supposed to cause havoc throughout the film, torturing a group of college kids who move in to an off-campus house. There's Elliot (Douglas Smith), John (Lucien Laviscount), and Elliot's girlfriend, Sasha (Cressida Bonas). Elliot finds some coins in a nightstand in the house, as well as writing that says "don't think it, don't say it" over and over again. The writing also contains the name, The Bye Bye Man. From there, The Bye Bye Man begins to get into Elliot, John, and Sasha's minds, causing them to experience hallucinations and act strangely.
That's all we really get in terms of story, so you would be expecting almost nothing but a 90 minute barrage of cheap jump scares. If that was the case, the movie could just be dismissed as disposable horror trash, but, honestly, that's not what happens here. Pretty much nothing happens for the first half hour, and even when all of the hallucinations and killings are going on, it still isn't even the least bit interesting.
- There is nothing good that I can say about The Bye Bye Man, except that it goes for an idea that has potential. The Bye Bye Man is described as being like a curse, for if more people know his name and think about him, then the more powerful and destructive he'll become. One character relates The Bye Bye Man to cancer. An idea related to something like a destructive disease is absolutely a starting point for a solid horror film. Do you know how much better The Bye Bye Man would have been if it had instead served as a powerful metaphor about the dangers of cancer or disease in general?
- The main reason that The Bye Bye Man fails is in its top low point: the characters. Something happened down the road for horror directors to begin deciding, "We will surely make big money if we have our movies center on scaring and killing stupid, young people." I want to think that horror movies wanting to have young main characters is secretly a means of punishment for college students, young adults, etc. for consistently making stupid decisions and pissing off the older folks. But that's not it at all. It's just lazy, careless writing. There is no way that a movie with a title like The Bye Bye Man would bother to spend even one second of its usually 90 minute run time on making an effort towards wanting to make us give a damn for any of its characters. Since we don't care for its characters, any and all scares are slit at the throat. There's barely a thing to say about Elliot, John, or Sasha. They just happen to move in to the wrong place at the wrong time and become the unfortunate victims of The Bye Bye Man. And, duh, the characters are generally stupid. What else needs to be said when you've got your main character walk into a dark basement and shout out, "Hello?"
- We not only have bad characters, but also bad acting! Douglas Smith tries oh so hard to look scared, but the best he can do in that department is display some rather hilarious squinty-eyed faces. He runs and shouts a lot as well. It's too bad that none of it is convincing. Lucien Laviscount looks as if he has no clue what he is doing, as if he is making stuff up on the spot because director Stacy Title forgot about him in between scenes. And then there's Cressida Bonas, who speaks her lines in the way a college theater major would be practicing lines during a dull 8 AM chemistry class, not making any clear attempt at being the least bit nervous. Let me not forget mentioning appearances by Carrie-Anne Moss and the long-time Faye Dunaway. Both have rather brief appearances, so there's really not much to say there.
- My last low point is one that kind of stunned me. The jump scares. Wow. I cannot believe a lowbrow horror film like this one can't even gets its most basic (and only) scare tactic right. Any and all jump scare moments (there are very few of them, actually) are constructed with total incompetence with awful setup, bad lighting, and a weak delivery. They don't even trigger the smallest static bolt of shock in you.
And the last thing that I feel I should mention is The Bye Bye Man himself. Let's just say that he looks like his design was put together by a freshmen engineering student who signed up to take one of those theater makeup classes, and the design was his assignment on the first day of class. The Bye Bye Man also awkwardly points his index finger in sort of an E.T. fashion during his brief appearances. He also has a dog, and the dog looks like an ugly CGI blood turd. Do we find out where The Bye Bye Man came from and how he came into existence? Nope, because that would require explanation and some logic, which is simply too much for this film's execution capabilities.
One thing we can all agree on: January horror is bad. But somehow, someway, The Bye Bye Man finds a way to be below some of January's worst. The word that came back to me over and over while watching the movie was stupid. Its name is stupid. Its characters are stupid. Its attempts at being scary are stupid. The entire thing is a master exercise in stupidity. It is an empty shell that offers absolutely nothing original or interesting. I don't hesitate to call it one of the worst horror films I have ever seen. And considering the piles of horror trash that come out on a yearly basis, that's saying a lot.
Recommend? No. Don't think it. Don't say it. Don't ever watch it.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: