THE EMOJI MOVIE, US, 2017. Voices of: T.J.Miller, James Corden, Anna Farris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Patrick Stewart, Christina Aguilera, Sophia Vergara, Sean Hayes. Directed by Tony Leondis. 85 minutes. Rated G.
A 2017 Cyberspace Odyssey.
The first emoji was patented in Japan in 1999 so that in 2001, this kind of Cyberspace Odyssey would not have been possible. But, here it is, the subject of an animated movie for young audiences and the family. Who would’ve thought? Well, probably, those in the IT industry, always on the alert for developments.
A word of advice for intending audiences. This is a film for youngsters who are completely at home with their smart phones, with all their potential for communication and all the apps. It could be a relaxation for older IT experts, looking at the fun side of their professional work. But, a word of warning, when grandparents take their grandchildren to see these films, it is certainly best if the grandparents are technology alert, otherwise what on earth are they to make of it all…?
There are some human characters in the film, especially at school, where, of course, they are dependent on their phones. One boy is attracted to one of the girls but very shy, both using their phones but he having some doubts and intending to delete all his apps. (Actually, sequences where monstrous black devouring emojis appear and begin their demolishing could be a 21st-century version of animated horror!)
So, into the phone, into the cyberworld. Again who would’ve thought (well young audiences probably do think this) that there would be such a variety of apps and emojis? In fact, the outline of the story is a romance within the phone, a kind of frog Prince, Gene, a Meh emoji, who seems to be stuck in a two-dimensional unemotional life. As well there is the princess in disguise. They meet and come alive in a dance competition – and Gene is helped by a five-finger emoji, Hi 5. And, presiding over all the emojis with malicious intent is Smiler, an equivalent of a wicked witch, all gushing sinister smiles.
And, of course, the voices help. T.J.Miller is Gene, is the princess, James Cordon (British, of course, but very popular as a host on American television) is Hi 5, Anna Farris is the escaping princess (and her name is Jailbreak) and Maya Rudolph is the witch lady. And, a credit to be noticed and for Trivial Pursuit, Sir Patrick Stewart as Poop!
One of the goals of the journey in this film is to arrive in The Cloud and there are all kinds of difficulties with delete, trying to find correct passwords, breaking through the firewall after Access Denied…
Colourful, relying on a basic fairytale outline but absolutely full of emojis of every kind and the implication that no one should be using an emoji that indicates indifference like Meh. Communication ought to be bright and sprightly!
Sony Released September 21st
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting