The Emoji Movie is a 2017 American 3D computer-animated comedy film written and directed by Tony Leondis and co-written by Eric Siegel and Mike White, based on the ideograms of the same name. It stars the voices of T.J. Miller, Anna Faris, James Corden, Patrick Stewart, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Rob Riggle, Jennifer Coolidge, Jake T. Austin, Sofia Vergara and Christina Aguilera. The film centers on Gene, a multi-expressional emoji who lives in a teenager's phone, 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 and was released in the United States on July 28, 2017. The film was panned by critics, who called it "unfunny and a waste of time", with several comparing it unfavorably to The Lego Movie, Inside Out and Wreck-It Ralph.
Gene is an emoji that lives in Textopolis, a digital city inside the phone of his user Alex. He is the son of two meh emojis named Mel and Mary, and is able to make multiple expressions despite his parents' upbringing. His parents are hesitant of him going to work, but Gene insists so that he can feel useful. Upon receiving a text from his crush Addie, Alex decides to send her an emoji. When Gene is selected, he panics, makes a confusing expression, and wrecks the text center. Gene is called in by Smiler, a smiley emoji and leader of the text center, who concludes that Gene is a "malfunction" and therefore must be deleted. Gene is chased by bots, but is rescued by Hi-5, a once popular emoji who has since lost his fame due to lack of use. He tells Gene that he can be fixed if they find a hacker, and Hi-5 accompanies him so that he can reclaim his fame.
Smiler sends more bots to look for Gene when she finds out that he has left Textopolis, as his actions have caused Alex to think that his phone needs to be fixed. Gene and Hi-5 come to a piracy app where they meet the hacker emoji Jailbreak, who wants to reach Dropbox so that she can live in the cloud. The trio is attacked by Smiler's bots, but manage to escape into the game Candy Crush. Jailbreak reveals that Gene can be fixed in the cloud, and the group goes off into the Just Dance app. While there, Jailbreak is revealed to be a princess emoji, named Linda, who fled home too after tiring of being stereotyped. They are once again attacked by bots, and their actions cause Alex to delete the Just Dance app. Gene and Jailbreak escape, but Hi-5 is taken along with the app and ends up in the trash.
Mel and Mary go searching for Gene and have a very lethargic argument. They make up in the Instagram app when Mel reveals that he, too, is a malfunction, explaining Gene's behavior. While traveling through Spotify, Jailbreak admits that she likes Gene just the way he is, and that he should not be ashamed of his malfunction. They make it to the trash and rescue Hi-5, but are soon attacked by an upgraded bot. They evade it and enter Dropbox, where they encounter a firewall. The gang get past it with a password being Addie's name and make it to the cloud, where Jailbreak prepares to reprogram Gene. Gene admits his feelings for Jailbreak, but she wishes to stick to her plan of venturing into the cloud, unintentionally causing Gene to revert to his apathetic programming out of heartbreak. The upgraded bot takes Gene, and Hi-5 and Jailbreak race after them.
As Smiler prepares to delete Gene, Mel and Mary arrive and are also threatened. Jailbreak and Hi-5 arrive and disable the bot, which falls on top of Smiler. Alex has since taken his phone to the store and asks to have his phone erased to fix the problem. Out of desperation, Gene prepares to have himself texted to Addie, making numerous faces to express himself. Realizing that Addie received a text from him, Alex stops his phone from getting erased, saving the emoji and finally getting to speak with Addie. Gene accepts himself for who he is and is celebrated by all of the emojis.
In a mid-credits scene, Smiler is seen wearing numerous braces due to her teeth being cracked by the bot, playing and losing a game of Go Fish in the "loser lounge" with the other forgotten and unused emotions, implying that she was demoted for her crimes.
- T. J. Miller as Gene, an outsider emoji who can show multiple expressions
- Anna Faris as Jailbreak, a codebreaker emoji
- James Corden as Hi-5, a hand emoji
- Patrick Stewart as a poop emoji
- Maya Rudolph as Smiler, a smiley emoji
- Steven Wright as Mel Meh, Gene's emoji father
- Rob Riggle as an ice cream emoji
- Jennifer Coolidge as Mary Meh, Gene's emoji mother
- Jake T. Austin as Alex, the human
- Sofía Vergara as Flamenco Dancer
- Christina Aguilera as Akiko Glitter, a supercool dancer that lives inside the Just Dance ap
On July 21, 2015, it was announced that Sony Pictures Animation had won the bidding war against Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures over production rights of an animated film centered on emoji, based on a script by Eric Siegel and Tony Leondis, with Leondis also directing the film. Michelle Raimo Kouyate would produce the film. At 2016 CinemaCon, the film was officially announced and it was revealed that it would be set in the digital world in a smartphone.
In July 2016, Miller was announced as the lead Emoji Gene in a tweet by Sony Pictures Animation on World Emoji Day. In October 2016, it was announced that Ilana Glazer and Corden will be joining the cast as well. In December 2016, the film's title was renamed from Emojimovie: Express Yourself, to simply The Emoji Movie. Glazer was later replaced by Anna Faris.
On December 20, 2016, the teaser trailer for the film was released. It was consequently panned by audiences, with the official YouTube upload garnering over 21,200 dislikes as opposed to 4,400 likes, around 24 hours after release.
Most people who saw the trailer immediately hated it, as shown in the comment section.
In November 2015, Sony scheduled the film to be released on August 11, 2017. A year later, it was moved to August 4, 2017, with Baby Driver taking its date. In late March 2017, the film moved one week earlier to July 28, 2017, switching places with Sony Pictures' other film The Dark Tower.
The film will be shown alongside Puppy, which is a short film directed by Genndy Tartakovsky based on the Hotel Transylvania films.
Days prior the film's release, Sony was criticized after the film's official Twitter account posted a promotional picture of a parody of The Handmaid's Tale featuring Smiler. The parody was considered to be "tasteless" due to the overall themes of the work, and the image was deleted afterward.
The film's theatrical release is preceded by Puppy!, a Hotel Transylvania short directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.
The Emoji Movie will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 24, 2017 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The Emoji Movie was released alongside Atomic Blonde and is projected to gross $20–30 million from 4,069 theaters in its opening weekend.
The Emoji Movie was panned by critics, with several unfavorably comparing it to Inside Out and Wreck it Ralph. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 8% approval rating based on 35 reviews, with an average rating of 2/10. The critical consensus for the film simply displays a No sign ("🚫"). On Metacritic, the film has a score of 12 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike". 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".