Out in less than a few weeks, The Emoji Movie's presence is growing.
With that, Sony has released two minutes of the film online and billed those minutes as the film's opening scene... So I decided to take a look and see if it's anything to cry or howl about...
Before I get to it, I just want to say... (And you can skip over all of this)
The Emoji Movie is a real hot button. Not in a long time have I seen an animated feature greeted with such disapproval, and that disapproval is completely understandable. When the pitch for the movie was being shopped around, I was a very vocal critic of this project. Emojis? Just a cheap attempt to cash in on the success of The Lego Movie and what's big right now! Well, yeah... It pretty much is.
Let's just remember that, if the reports are to be believed, The Emoji Movie started out as a pitch created by former Disney and DreamWorks story artist Anthony Leondis. (Also the director of the MGM-released animated film Igor, and would-be director of DreamWorks' ill-fated ghost movie.) Leondis' pitch was something multiple studios gushed over, so three of them got into a bidding war to get it... Yes, a bidding war... To get the film. Sony was one of them, the other two were Warner Bros. and Paramount. So before we write Sony Pictures Animation off altogether, let's keep in mind that this could've been a Warner Animation Group movie (and they did The Lego Movie!) or a Paramount Animation movie...
It just so happens that Sony won the bid. This was after their new management was cemented, not too long after their previous management - who went out the door after the 2014 hack snafu - rejected Genndy Tartakovsky's take on Popeye and his original project Can You Imagine? The new management showed Lauren Faust the door and handed Medusa to someone else, to my understanding it's not really about Medusa anymore.
So yes, I can understand why we're all miffed. I miss Genndy's projects and I wish the other cool-sounding ones weren't torpedoed, but let's just focus on the movie itself... The latest trailer was okay, not bad, not good, so... How are these 2-or-so minutes?
Well, all I can is... It looks... Bearable. Like the protagonist, this one's gonna get a "meh."
The world of the smartphone is nice-looking enough, and there were some funny gags (TJ Miller's Meh emoji trying to smile at the little munchkin babies is clever) here and there mixed with a lot of lame ones. It certainly reminds me of every bad aspect of American feature animation, it seems that the movie will sport a joke-a-thon script and will have this need to make everything - funny or not - into some kind of "gag." Or maybe the rest of the movie is solid and much better, maybe there are some surprises to come. I really don't know, it's just the opening scene, and it's just... There.
Again, I will eat serious crow if this thing turns out to be somewhat good. Yes, a movie starring a talking piece of fecal matter possibly being good. If it is good, then we'll be living in a world that's weirder than we think! Then again, we do live in a world where a 14-year-old Korean animated short about sentient dog crap is interesting, if not good. Again, it's just the whole idea that turns me off... It just sounds so corporate and so cynical, I'd rather see animation be used for, you know, amazing and otherworldly stories. Not something like "What if the Emojis in your phone are alive?" Why does live-action/photoreal VFX get to do all the stuff like Valerian and the City of the Thousand Planets (just imagine an animated adaptation of Valerian, just picture how mind-numbingly amazing that would be) while we're stuck with this and Minions and farting squirrels and such?
Yes, The Emoji Movie is kind of the linchpin of my frustration with the state of feature animation... So if it's "good," I'll consider it a pleasant surprise. I like pleasant surprises, sometimes more so than liking things that I know I'm going to like. The opening scene is just there, let's see what Sony has in store at the end of the month.
In the mean time, at my movie theater job, I'll continue doing the Devil's Work...
Can't ya tell I'm pumped about promoting this thing?
What say you on the Emoji Movie clip?