It’s certainly a sign of the times we are living in that the latest animated offering from Sony Pictures features the very device that has become so central to modern life, the smart phone. We exist through the emoticons we share via text, social media, and email so I guess it was only a matter of time before those very same expressions of feeling were translated onto the big screen. After all the popular game App Angry Birds had its day, so why not give legs (literally) to the emojis we share every day?
The Emoji Movie follows Gene, aka the Meh face on your emoji dashboard, (voiced by T.J. Miller) on his virtual and literal journey through Textopolis, the world within your phone – or in this case a boy called Alex. Unlike his fellow emojis, Gene has the enigmatic ability to shift between several expressions rather than sticking with his assigned “meh” face. Unravelling both the world within the phone and that of Alex, who insists on using emojis to try and connect with his schoolboy crush, Gene embarks on an elaborate journey aided by Hi-5 (James Corden) and Jailbreak (Anna Faris) to fix his malfunction.
A commentary that plays out on several levels, The Emoji Movie at face value invites us further into the technologically-driven existence we are all a part of as we follow Gene through the Apps we utilise, the firewalls we must overcome and the fundamental way we communicate with those around us. At a deeper level it makes us question our inability to think and act outside the box. Have we become so moulded into the four walls of our smartphone-led lives that we’ve forgotten to form our own opinions or express our differences no matter how controversial or even form a real friendship?
There are critics who are concerned that the “emoji” generation pose a sad turn to events, referencing the classic Disney romance stories of old; but the reality is that technology and its emoji line of expression is a real fixture of the modern world. Generations young and old have embraced text talk as a more convenient and efficient mode of communication and perhaps rather than be concerned at its replacement of good old fashioned conversation, we must open our eyes to the potential it holds to create opportunities to connect.
Taking my five year old and her friend to an advance screening, their immediate review was “fantastic” both enjoying the colourful and diverse world that Gene and friends inhabit. With moments that are funny because they are so relatable to moments that will surprise you and play to those classic “Disney” clichés; The Emoji Movie delivers feeling, fun and a little bit of fear (my little was a tad cautious of the Bot sent after Gene and co).
The Emoji Movie is out in cinemas nationwide on Thursday 14 September.
Run Time: 91 minutes