The Emoji Movie Review: At the gates of hell

171,476. This is the number of words that are currently in the Oxford English Dictionary. Yet, none of these words accurately describe how much I loathe Tony Leondis’s "The Emoji Movie." It is so awful that I’m completely enraptured by it.

“My name is Gene. I’m the meh emoji.”

The gates of Hell open and were greeted by the narration of our main character, Gene (T.J. Miller). Gene lives in Textopolis, a city of emojis. He is the son of Mary Meh (Jennifer Coolidge) and Mel Meh (Steven Wright. Yes, that Steven Wright), who are both portraying the “Meh” emoji. The opening scene is a plethora of nonsense and jokes that are not quite jokes.

Gene states that the main job of an emoji is to be that emoji and its emotions, all of the time. But Gene can feel other emotions than meh. We see the crying emoji crying while he wins the lottery. Was that supposed to be a joke of some sort? Half of the time, I can’t tell if the characters are supposed to be joking, and when a joke is made it lacks the drive and humor to really capture any sort of laugh out of me.

Not long after, we’re greeted to our subplot: Alex (Jake T. Austin) is trying to figure out what to send to capture the attention of his crush Addie (Tati Gabrielle). Here’s where the film’s plot, or lack thereof, syncs up with Textopolis’s world. The emojis live inside of Alex’s phone, which causes the phone to become cantankerous at points in the movie. The emojis lineup to perform their job as emojis as Alex struggles to pick the emoji that he wishes to send to his crush. Ultimately, he decides on Gene. Here’s where Gene’s problem comes into play: due to his ability to feel other emotions, he is considered a malfunction. The movie’s words, not mine.

Without much insult or exaggeration, after this scene, this movie goes to shit. The following scene cuts to Gene and his parents having a discussion in the bathroom about how he wasn’t ready for the text box…..and then the Poop emoji (voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart. I wish I was making this up.) makes a joke about #2. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. When Gene is taken in by Smiler (Maya Rudolph), the movie continually hints at killing him, actually showing Smiler’s floss as a noose around his neck for an uncomfortably long time without stopping--there’s no other way to interpret that.

The rest of the movie is a giant advertisement dressed under the guise of being a film. We meet Jailbreak (Anna Faris), a woman who is called in along with Gene’s best friend Hi-5 (James Gordon) to help hack into Gene and turn him permanently “meh”. We go through the "Candy Crush Saga"--with the literal "Candy Crush Saga" voice. Then, we traverse through "Just Dance," where we get some mild romantic tension between Jailbreak and Gene that I can’t be bothered to write about because it’s so pointless. I literally do not understand the point of an emoji having a love interest. Not only is this plot ridiculously contrived, it’s nonsensical.

Meanwhile, Alex’s phone is glitching due to the emoji nonsense and he decides to go to the Apple store to have everything on the phone deleted. We get moments that are supposed to be funny, like when Alex is around Addie when the Candy Crush app glitches and the app says something to the effect of “tasty, delicious…”. Humor. Where is it? Also, did I mention that Jailbreak is a female hacker? Well, did I? The movie certainly won’t let you forget that, as she makes a comment about “men taking credit for everything”. T.J. Miller states that this film promotes a progressive message, and that’s cool. However, is a movie about emojis really a place to push unwarranted political messages? Political messages can be an empowering thing in a context where it’s warranted, but in this movie, this comes off as strange and offputting--the opposite of what it was intended to do.

After messing up in "Just Dance," Hi-5 ends up in the trash. When we go into the trash, we get a pretty disturbing scene where the trolls tell him that he’s gonna die and they laugh about it. Again…..why does this scene exist?

When Jailbreak, Gene, and Hi-5 get finally get into Dropbox (because they can’t have anything without ads), they can’t figure out Alex’s password. When it’s discovered that Addie is his password, they find an email that Alex discarded that’s all lyrics from Rihanna’s “Diamonds”. Yep. This is an actual movie. I cannot stress to you how dated this will look in two years when all of these references are null and void. Hell, they’re null and void right now.

Did I mention that the first time I saw this, I saw a family of four walk out of the theatre before this ended?

Oh, and there’s a Marvel type end scene after the initial end credits. No. We do not need an Emoji Movie Cinematic Universe.

Do you want to know the best part?

The movie had a budget of 50 million dollars. It has grossed over 185 million dollars worldwide, making almost quadruple its budget. Where did 50 million dollars go? This movie is strangely nihilistic for a kids’ film. It sends a message that if you do not have a purpose, you should die. Aside from that, there’s absolutely no happiness to be found. It’s not even funny in the “this movie is so bad, you have to see it and laugh” kind of funny.

This movie was a disaster on wheels. The first time that I saw this, I was in complete disbelief that a modern movie with a budget in the millions of dollars with a major studio backing it could be this... bad. I’m not exaggerating, nor am I being dramatic. This is a movie that has to be seen to be believed, but at the same token, I don’t want anyone seeing this.