‘The Emoji Movie’ lacks depth

By: 
KELLY MORGAN ◆ KELLY@LEBANONDAILYRECORD.COM

My idea of an outstanding children’s movie is one that has a heartwarming, relevant message for kids overlaid with a layer of humor that only adults will understand.

“The Emoji Movie” takes aim at kiddie classic status by making grownups laugh, but its attempt at an inspiring moral falls short of success.

For those who haven’t seen the trailers, the premise of the movie is that your smartphone is full of tiny people, and the phone’s text messaging program is populated by emojis, the little smiley face pictures that can be sent in texts. Normal emojis are only capable of having one facial expression, but the protagonist, Gene, can make faces like a human being and even shape shift to become some of the other emojis, turning his eyes into hearts or changing his face shape to look like the painting “The Scream” when he is afraid.

On his first day of work, Gene panics while his face is being “scanned” for a text message, and the phone’s owner ends up sending a text with a weird hybrid emoji that has a puff of smoke coming from one nostril. Because of Gene’s mistake, a board of directors decides that he is a “malfunction” and a sinister smiley face named Smiler orders a team of antivirus bots to delete Gene.

While running from the bots, Gene meets Hi-5, who has been trying to sneak into the gallery for “frequently used” emojis and mistakenly thinks the bots are after him. After the mixup is explained, Hi-5 tells Gene that a hacker could reprogram Gene to have the perpetually bored expression that is expected of him, and Gene points out that a hacker could probably also get Hi-5 into the frequently used section. The two set out together and successfully team up with Jailbreak, a legendary hacker who agrees to help Gene and Hi-5 because she wants to use Gene’s shapeshifting ability to help her break out of the phone entirely. Jailbreak’s goal is to live in the cloud — because of sexism, apparently.

For the complete review, see the Weekend print edition of The Daily Record, or view the e-Edition online.

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