You *HAVE* To Watch “The Emoji Movie”

Carl Anka
5 min readAug 6, 2017
(via Sony Pictures Animation)

The Emoji Movie is not a “good” film. You already knew that. It’s sitting on 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. You’ve probably already seen a trailer for it. It’s a grab bag of surface level pop culture references, slapstick humour and James Corden doing that annoying thing he does. You know, that thing where he embodies what American people *think* British people are like, so there are loads of bits where he does something that resembles a joke, but isn’t funny in itself.

The Emoji Movie isn’t necessarily a “bad” film either. Bad implies you went out to achieve something and failed. Bad implies an actor, or director or plot point missed its mark. A bad movie is what happens when a film is supposed to zig, but zags instead. The Emoji Movie does not do that. The plot, while a typical “Escape from Planet X” fare, (and also liberally borrows set pieces and character types from the LEGO Movie and Inside Out) mostly holds up. The internal logic of the film, while indeed bizarre (The computer app Dropbox is such a major plot aspect that the line “We have to escape through the Dropbox!” is uttered several times), mostly holds up. It’s rather well animated, the voice actors hit their marks (when James Corden does tell a joke, it does work), and the big message of the film is “be yourself”, which is par the course for a children’s film. I think this is a children’s film. Running at a tight 85 minutes, it never outstays its welcome.

The Emoji Movie is not a “good” film. The Emoji Movie is not a “bad” film. The Emoji Movie is a film I cannot stop thinking about.

There’s a bit in Lovecraftian horror stories where the main character stumbles upon a glimpse of Cthulhu/The Beast/The Devil and is driven mad. The general gist is what they witnessed is so disturbing, so unlike something of our world that looking at it breaks their psyche. One glimpse of something not of this world and it sticks with you forever. Nothing makes sense and that is that.

*That* is how you feel watching the Emoji Movie.

The Emoji Movie is an unique film project in that nothing we say or do to it can stop it. Funded by product placement choices from apps like Candy Crush, Instagram, Dropbox and Just Dance and more, The Emoji Movie has conceivably paid for itself. Here, read what TJ Miller, the voice of main character Gene said about his decision to make the film in an astonishing interview with Hollywood Reporter: “[I quit], like, the best show on television, in my opinion, and I’m going and doing The Emoji Movie — and you can publish that because Sony knows we down to get motherfucking paid globally.”

Look at this photo from the premiere.

Nothing can harm this film because The Emoji Movie is (probably) already in the black. No Rotten Tomatoes rating, or scathing review can hurt it. It brought in $26million on its opening weekend despite, but my reckoning, not having a concrete audience. It’s a film that its creators will say is “for fans not critics” but you have no idea who those fans are. Fans of phones? Of Candy Crush? Of Dropbox? The Emoji Movie is a film that has won, by perfecting the boldface art of not giving a shit, while also paying Sir Patrick Stewart to voice a shit.

I cannot stop thinking about it.

I had the pleasure of watching The Emoji Movie at a screening with a collection of King employees and other film journalists. King, the game developers of Candy Crush were ecstatic to be in the film, and they had good reason to: with the game about to turn five, their appearance in The Emoji Movie, coupled with their new US TV Show shows the app is heading for the type of real life crossover appeal most games can only dream off. Indeed when Candy Crush appeared in the film in a relatively understated (for this film at least), the King crowd gave a sincere round of applause. King thanked Sony’s promotions, marketing and partnership teams for helping make this film happen. Not screenwriters and actors, but the sections of a film that we rarely think about. The Emoji Movie can’t be ranked by good or bad in the same way we rank other films. The Emoji Movie doesn’t miss its mark like other films do, The Emoji Movie is a phenomenon in and of itself.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

I can’t stop thinking about the world the emoji populate. I can’t stop thinking of how the main character Gene has parents — does that mean the emoji have sex? I can’t stop thinking of the crying emoji who won the lottery — does that mean the emoji have a government and a monetary system? I can’t stop thinking of how the emoji live in a three tier system: favourites, the regular and the unused — the emoji have a caste system. I can’t stop thinking of how the fish cracker and the aubergine emoji live in the unused section — what do the emoji eat and at what point with the aubergine get catapulted to the faves section when the phone user (a 14 year old called Alex) comes of age? I can’t stop thinking of when High 5 (James Corden’s character) flex and reveals he has abs — does that mean all the emoji are naked? I can’t stop thinking about a scene where two poop emojis leave a toilet — what do poop emojis poop out? I can’t stop thinking about how the full title is “The Emoji Movie: Express Yourself”. I can’t believe the scene where the Just Dance app is deleted and we see the Just Dance lady (voiced by Christina Aguilera no less) crying and glitching in the trash app.

I can’t stop thinking how Maya Rudolph ended up in both this and the Chips remake this summer.

I cannot stop thinking about the Emoji Movie. I want to watch it again, with friends. I want everyone to have seen what I have seen so we can talk about it, and have a group decompression. Cesar A. Cruz once said “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”, and I want to meet and talk to the people who are comforted by this film.

I cannot stop thinking about The Emoji Movie. You have to watch it. Please.

I’m going to keep doing these blogs on a semi regular basis in an effort to kind my writing pen sharp while I look for a job. If you like my writing and would like to hire me, I can be found at

If you like my writing and want to pick my brains about something else, including what you’d like me to write next, hit me up on Twitter — @Ankaman616



Carl Anka

I just write about things I’m curious about and upload it when you’re not looking.