Emoji Movie Review

We live in divisive times. Folks are arguing over politics, relationships and even sports. What’s one thing everyone seems to agree on? Well, that the Emoji Movie sucks. This is a clear fact but do I agree?

There was a side of me hoping Emoji Movie would be a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately it is not a strong film. I don’t know if I can cosign the worst of the reviews but I can see where they are coming from. It’s just not a good movie.

There are some positives. I liked the animation for the most part. It was bright and colorful and some of the world building in the phone looked cool. Also the voice cast was fine. I particularly liked Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge in their roles.

Unfortunately there are major problems. The biggest is The Emoji Movie is incredibly derivative. It borrows or shares similar elements with Inside Out, Minions, Wreck-it Ralph, Zootopia, The Lego Movie, A Bug’s Life, Sausage Party, Trolls, Angry Birds Movie, Sing, Secret Life of Pets, Toy Story and more.

Sometimes having a derivative story isn’t a problem. Many criticized The Good Dinosaur for being derivative of The Lion King but it had enough creativity, heart and beautiful visuals to engross me. The Emoji Movie doesn’t have anything like that to distract you from the reused plot points so it ends up feeling kind of dull.

The lead character Gene doesn’t fit in and has to go on a journey to learn to be himself. This is tired enough but along the way he meets a cool talking girl and a snarky boy (Jailbreak and High 5). These sidekicks do nothing to build a compelling story and are mostly annoying.

The movie could be saved by its laughs but they aren’t there. Some of the jokes don’t even make sense. From the marketing you would think Sir Patrick Stewart as the Poop Emoji would get big laughs but he really doesn’t. He is in 3 or 4 scenes and that’s it.

In Inside Out the world was constantly morphing and changing depending on what happens to Riley and the emotions. Here the emojis journey annoys the teen Alex but that’s about it. Plus, the idea that kids don’t talk to each other at all is a little hard to believe even for the greatest of cynics. At the very least Alex had to talk to the girl he likes to get her phone number and she sends him a text to begin with!

There is some creativity in the world of the apps but the problem is most of the time they feel completely superfluous. Like they spend a segment in youtube and another in spotify for no reason and they didn’t quite get the spirit of what those apps are all about to begin with.

The villain is pretty annoying and everything plays out just as you expect. There is also a plot with Mr and Mrs Meh that did nothing for me.

The Emoji Movie isn’t the worst animated film I’ve seen but it’s not good. There’s nothing offensive about it (except maybe the glaring product placement) so you can take your kids and they will be moderately entertained but why do that when they can watch Captain Underpants or Cars 3 instead? Those are far superior films than The Emoji Movie. I guess at least I wasn’t offended like I was after watching The Killing Joke (reaching here).

In the end, it’s not epicly bad to be memorable like Norm of the North but it’s far from good. It feels like a waste of time and resources when they could have made something that said something about communication and our phones. Even if it just had better jokes that would have been watchable but alas it was not to be.

Here is my youtube review:

Now I want to forget about The Emoji Movie and move on to the next animated film of 2017. Oh wait, that’s the Nut Job 2 😦

Overall Grade- D

Smurfs: The Lost Village Review

This seems to be the week for the underdog movie. First, The Power Rangers Movie was surprisingly entertaining and now I’m reporting that Smurfs: the Lost Village is a solid little animated movie. Neither of these movies are masterpieces, but I feel the creative teams behind them really tried to make the best movie they could and it shows.

I should tell you guys about my history with the Smurfs. The previous live action hybrid films are two of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. They aren’t funny and the continual product placement left a bad taste in my mouth. You could say the bar for this new film was very low!

The biggest pro of Smurfs: the Lost Village is the  stunning animation. That might sound crazy coming from a Smurfs movie, but I honestly thought the backgrounds and other visuals were really beautiful. There is a scene where they ride down a floating river that was full of colors and light that dazzled me. It is without a doubt the best animation Sony Animation has ever done.

Even the animation of the Smurfs looked really good especially when you compare them to the live action versions. They are smoother, brighter and more pleasant to look at. When the Smurfs from the Lost Village come into play those are also very nicely animated and designed. It’s amazing all they did with the color blue!

I also liked Rainn Wilson as Gargamel. He was the only celebrity who gave a memorable performance with the campy style needed for such a villain. In a way it is kind of refreshing to have a villain like Gargamel in a world of animated surprise villains. It’s nice to have one brewing potions and planning world domination for once! His interactions with his vulture and cat were also a lot of fun.

That brings me to some of the downsides of Smurfs: the Lost Village. Aside from Rainn, the rest of the celebrity voice casting was completely wasted and unnecessary. Some of the celebrities like Gordon Ramsey as Baker Smurf maybe had 2 lines. Julia Roberts gets top billing and she doesn’t appear for an hour into the movie! What a waste! Why not use voice talent and lower your budget so you can make riskier films? I will never understand it.

There are also some issues that are inherent in the franchise. Much like the 7 dwarfs in Snow White the Smurfs are known by their key skill or trait- Clumsy, Grumpy, Brainy etc. This makes for some pretty boring characters that don’t have much room to grow or move in the story because they can’t escape their label. The dwarfs were side characters so weren’t required to grow much but particularly the quad of Brainy, Clumsy, Smurfette and Hefty are the leads of the movie. They even have a Smurf who’s name is “Smurf who chews on the table”. Hmmm…

The other problem, which is inherent to the franchise is some of the odd moments of gender dynamics. Smurfette is the only female character until they meet a new village. This makes for some weird moments where things are considered masculine or feminine that made me squirm a bit. Granted I think 99% of kids this will go right over their heads but I noticed. Even the design of Smurfette is a little concerning with her high heels and blonde hair. Especially with how she becomes a literal Savior character it made me a little uncomfortable.

Some I am sure will complain this film is generic and predictable. So what? Not everything in the world has to be new and exciting. It moved along quickly enough and Gargamel was fun and the animation was gorgeous. That’s certainly enough to entertain me.

Another quick problem is I didn’t think any of the pop songs worked within the movie. In fact, they took me out of the movie. They were too modern for this fantastical world they’d created.

Smurf’s: the Lost Village would have been so easy to phone in and make it mediocre, so I appreciate the effort Sony Animation put into this film. In many ways it reminds me of Horton Hears a Who. Sure both movies have flaws but especially compared to their predecessors they are successful. I recommend giving Smurf’s the Lost Village a shot- maybe not a full price but a matinee ticket. You’ll be glad you did if only for the visuals alone.

Overall Grade- B

As far as content there is some tense sequences but the kids at my theater all seemed ok. If they could handle Trolls they should be fine with this.

Animated News 3/10/16

Hey guys!  I’m excited to share with you a new video series I am trying out. It’s a video where I cover all the news in both animated TV shows and movies.  I thought of this because I don’t really like reviewing trailers, so it seemed like a good way to cover the trailer but also other topics that I think are interesting.  I figured I could make my viewers aware of smaller projects or shows that might be off their radar.

There are obviously going to be room for improvement but I think it is a pretty good start.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Also, what do you think of this week’s news?  In the video I cover:

Box office for Zootopia and Boy and the Beast

Trailers for Kubo and the 2 Strings and Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarves

Movie announcements for animated Ghostbusters and Surfs Up 2: Wave Mania

Utah release of Boy and the World and Only Yesterday

Aaron Springer Billy Dilly Show

Ducktales reboot image review

Cancellation of Wander Over Yonder

Tangled Before Ever After series

Big Hero 6 series announcement

Does any of this news interest you?  Let’s discuss it in the comments section here or on the youtube video.  If you feel so inclined give it a thumbs up!  Thanks so much. 🙂