The Other Side of Animation 98: The Emoji Movie Review

emo01

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

 

Every year, we always hear the loud wails and haunted screams that cinema is dead. It just so happens that in 2017, with Sony Pictures Animation’s The Emoji Movie, it just got too loud to ignore. The film is directed by Tony Leondis, a story artist and director. He worked on films like The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Kronk’s New Groove, Home on the Range, and directed Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a GlitchIgor, and Kung Fu Panda: Secret of the Masters. For some reason, out of all the years of movies made, The Emoji Movie just drove people up a wall. It came out a few weeks ago, and instantaneously, it was labeled as the worst movie of all time, the death of cinema, people were saying and demanding that Sony Pictures of Animation should be shut down, and you get the idea. Even though we made it through years that had Movie 43, Jack & Jill, Pixels, Gods of Egypt, 50 Shades of Grey, 50 Shades of Black, Meet the Blacks, Legend of Hercules, Saving Christmas, Troll 2, North, and so on, The Emoji Movie is the one that broke the camel’s back. Listen, it’s not a good movie, but people are overreacting and going into hyperbole territory to get clicks and views. Why would I say that if I just admitted that it was not a good movie? Well, let’s pick your favorite emoji and send that text.

emo02

The entire story takes place inside one teen’s phone, as we enter the world of Textopolis, a city where all the emojis live. We focus on one in particular emoji named Gene, voiced by T.J. Miller. He is a “meh” emoji, who has a bit of a problem. He can’t simply be a “meh”, and has too many emotions to count! After a failed first day on the job, Gene wants to find a way to fix himself by hacking the code to solve his problem. He gets the help of a high-five emoji, voiced by James Corden, and a hacker emoji named Jailbreak, voiced by Anna Faris. Hopefully, they can get past the dastardly grasp of Smiler, a creepy smile emoji voiced by Maya Rudolph. Can Gene fix himself and somehow help the teen out in a real world problem of getting to know a girl?

emo04

The biggest problem about talking about this film is while it will not affect the actual rating of this film, I have to talk about the overwhelming clickbait/hyperbolic backlash this film has gotten. People call it the worst movie of the year, the worst movie of all time, and the film that is what’s wrong with cinema. It’s not because I’m going to be defending this film as something good. It’s not a good movie by any stretches of the imagination, and is definitely on the lower end of my best to worst animated films of 2017, but people need to really stop acting like this is the film that’s going to kill cinema. Like I said above, people are using clickbait and hyperbolic opinions of this movie to get views, clicks, and whatever, and making it out to be a worse movie than it actually is. If there was a film that made the cinema industry actually halt in their tracks, then we have pretty much survived hundreds of extinctions after every time some knucklehead said, “this is the film that will kill the film industry”. It’s officially gotten to the point that if you are using hyperbole in your review or comment, I’m not going to take your opinion seriously. I know that sounds close-minded and very one-sided, but we live in a world where there are worse things going on every single day, and yet The Emoji Movie is apparently worth more of your anger than anything else. And to the people who want the studio that made this to shut down because they didn’t like it, or are stuck in a bad situation because of executive shenanigans, you have no right to say they should force 100s of people to lose their jobs because you don’t like their movie. It’s the most immature mentality that I have ever seen, and if you are that toxic about it, then you need to get a life.

emo03

Let’s face honest 100% objective fact here, The Emoji Movie is not a good movie, but it’s the wrong kind of bad movie. It’s not the most super offensive thing with super hate-worthy characters and cheap straight-to-DVD quality animation. It’s not Norm of the North or Strange Magic levels of bad. Heck, I have seen movies that I enjoy that have way more repulsive elements to it like Belladonna of Sadness. It’s just boring bad. It’s a bad movie that doesn’t have a whole lot going for it, because the film itself feels like they had a base idea around what they wanted to do, but couldn’t or were not allowed to get past the “cynical cash grab” look and feel of the film. The universe this film takes place in is kind of confusing, since if you think about it, why are there emojis that have to be one emotion, while there are shrimp, elephant, and Christmas tree emojis that don’t coincide with a single personality? I mean, should they be deleted as well? Its world is not as clever that I think the writers are making it out to be. I don’t see other whimsical realms that our heroes go through, I just see the product placements that companies paid the most to have advertised in the film. It’s a universe with no real soul or identity to it. A bland world is one thing, but what about the three leads? Well, despite having good actors behind them, there is nothing really all that interesting about them. Gene is your generic lead who thinks being unique isn’t a good thing. James Corden, while super entertaining in other forms of media, has no real character with the high-five emoji, since all he does is try to spew a joke every 30 seconds. Jailbreak is obviously trying to be like the female lead from The LEGO Movie, but has none of the charm of said character. I also kind of love the horrible implication in this universe that if you stand out in this world, you deserve to die. What about the human characters? Yeah, couldn’t really get hooked on them either. They don’t act like real kids, but that, “I’m trying to make this kid like the one you saw in Inside Out, but not understanding that the girl in Inside Out was a complex character.” I also found a lot of the celebrity casting distracting, like Patrick Stewart as the poop emoji. Like, I get there is a bit of that niche-style appeal of, “oh tee hee, this wildly acclaimed actor is voicing poop”, but outside of that, again, I only saw the celebrities, and not the characters.

emo06

I feel like this movie would have been so much better with maybe more freedom to the writers to do something more complex, or go full-tilt cynical. Like, I could imagine this film being way more interesting if it was a cynical lashing out at the audience who the execs think would watch this movie. Go black comedy on the characters and such, and sneak in some legit good morals inside the cynical jokes and clever writing. What happened is that they probably got a set of writers who wanted to go full-tilt and go crazy, but either weren’t allowed to, or were not talented enough to do such a thing. You can see how this movie could have worked if it was aimed at a more general audience and not just one part of the movie-going audience. That’s why films like Inside Out and The LEGO Movie were so amazing, because they could talk to every part of the audience. They weren’t talking to one side, and ignoring the other. The Emoji Movie is just a generic film with generic writing and morals. It’s something we haven’t seen a hundred times over in other movies, and have done a better job at saying these messages.

emo07

So, what’s actually good about this movie? Well, the animation is pretty solid. I know the designers on Twitter spoke highly about having fun working with the designs, and the characters move pretty well. Even the human characters look better than most DreamWorks movies. The designs might be basic, but emojis are generally very basic in terms of designs. At the very least, this movie has more theatrical-quality animation than a lot of animated films that get limited releases by Lionsgate. I also enjoyed Maya Rudolph as the villain. She was hugely entertaining as this psychotic smile emoji, and she definitely had fun with the role. I also liked Gene’s parents, who were played by Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge. Any time they were on screen, I at least got a chuckle out of their delivery of their lines. It’s not the perfect mix of casting and writing, like Lewis Black as Anger in Inside Out, but it’s ideal casting in terms of who should play the meh emoji. The one scene I thought was pretty cool was when Gene’s parents were inside the Instagram app. I liked the idea of going inside a photo and it brings you into that photo’s location and everything around them is still. It was a nice artistic moment that I can respect.

emo08

In the end, everyone is overreacting to this, and ironically going to see it because of said hyperbole. We have had cash-grab films made every year, like Dragonball Z Evolution, Jem and the Holograms, Baywatch, and so on. If Hollywood didn’t crumble and fall after those films, then it won’t with this one. The Emoji Movie is just a forgettable and bland film. I was honestly bored watching the movie, and spent a lot of time thinking what I would have done to make it a better movie than simply just a cash-grab/advertisement movie. It wants to be so many other films, but fails to do anything those films did well. If you really want to see it, just wait to rent it. It’s making enough to make back its budget, and it will just underperform before it leaves theaters. It’s bad, but it’s not the worst, and no one at Sony Pictures Animation deserves to lose their jobs over it. Now, if you want to see a really cynically made movie, join me next time as we talk about Digimon The Movie. Thanks for reading! I hope you all enjoyed the article, and I will see you next time.

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation: Hell & Back Review

(If you like what you see, you can go camseyeview.biz to see the rest of my work, where I review video games, write editorials, lists, talk about video game Kickstarters, interview developers, and review animated films. If you want to, you can contribute to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help make running the site easier. Thank you so much for checking out my work, and I hope you like it!)

WARNING/PARENTAL HEADS UP!: This film is full of crude adult humor and sexual themes and some nudity. It also has a lot of shock-value jokes that are more offensive than funny. Viewer’s discretion is advised. Do not watch this unless your children are at least 15 or 18. Enjoy the review!

You know what is a really crummy thing about movie trailers these days? No matter what kind of movie it is, the trailer is either way too misleading in terms of what the movie is actually about, shows too much in terms of the best jokes/action sequences, feels cynically produced to think the common moviegoer is stupid, or essentially shows the entire movie. However, sometimes you get a trailer to a movie that had no other choice than to show off what the main product is going to end up as. Today’s movie review had a trailer that was basically, “what you see is what you get. Sorry.” This week, we take a look at the stop-motion film from ShadowMachine films, Hell & Back. This limited release was directed by Tom Gianas and Ross Shuman. It was released back in October 2nd, 2015 to, like I said, a limited release. It had very little marketing, and the critics and individuals who did see it, attacked the movie with mostly negative reviews. Not really that hard to see why this animated film didn’t do much for the movie-going world. Let’s dive in anyway, and see why it might not be worth going to Hell & Back.

The story is about two young guys named Remy, voiced by Nick Swardson, and Augie, voiced by T.J. Miller, as they work at a pretty horrible carnival. One night, with a friend of theirs, Curt Myers, voiced by Rog Riggle, they have Curt sign a blood oath to a satanic book in front of a very specific ride. After breaking said blood oath literally a few seconds after said oath, Curt is sucked into Hell, and it is up to Remy and Augie to go find him before he is sacrificed by the Devil, voiced by Bob Odenkirk. Along the way, the two young dudes meet up with Deema, a half-demon girl, voiced by Mila Kunis, and the legendary Orpheus, voiced by Danny McBride.

Yeah, since this by the same company that used to distribute the hit show, Robot Chicken, you can guess that there will be a lot of raunchy shock humor. While not as shocking as say, South Park or those really bad comedies that go off of shock comedy with no substance (A majority of Comedy Central’s shows), the humor is not really that great. Comedy might be subjective, but good lord, the writers needed to calm the heck down. It felt too busy, and for every joke that had potential, it got run over by five bad jokes. Oh, and this film has a really big fetish with jokes about male molestation, because you know, making jokes about someone getting assaulted/harassed/worse always works! If you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic! This is why I really can’t stand shows like Drawn Together or the thankfully cancelled Brickleberry. If you have shock humor just to be offensive with no meaning behind said shocking jokes, then don’t be a comedy writer, since you have no idea what you are doing. I wouldn’t mind the raunchy mean-spirited humor if the characters in this movie were worth investing into, but in reality, they really aren’t that great. They are either incredibly unlikable or flat-out boring. I can tell the actors are trying to make the chemistry work, and from time to time, it does, but you have to get through a lot of the tripe the film throws at you to get to them. I also get the idea of “saving your friend from the devil” and all, and the twist is sort of funny, but we have seen it done before with better writers and shows.

The animation is fine, and it is nice to see stop-motion more than just the films from Laika and Aardman Entertainment, but it’s not up-to-par with those two studios. It’s more in line with a higher budgeted episode of Robot Chicken or those stop-motion TV specials that you see from time to time. The movements are just a bit janky, and are not as smooth as the crisp buttery smoothness you see in Laika-made films. I also found the overall look of Hell to be rather unremarkable. The demons look decent, but the overall design of it all is forgettable at best.

With all of this negativity I have for this film, did I personally find something I liked about the movie? Well, I like the voice cast. Even though the script is pretty lousy with jokes and making actual characters, the actors do a decent job in terms of trying to make it all work. The cast includes Nick Swardson, T.J. Miller, Mina Kunis, Danny Mcbride, Bob Odenkirk, Susan Sarandon, Dana Snyder, H. Jon Benjamin, John P. Farley, Michael Pena, Jennifer Coolidge, and Brian Posehn to name a few. I also find Bob Odenkirk entertaining as the devil. Nothing new or anything, but this is a good actor, and he does what he can to put some likability into the Devil himself.

Still, a solid comedic cast can’t save this movie. Besides a few laughs and some performances, I just couldn’t get into it. I know this style of comedy is probably is not for me, but it seems like I’m not alone in calling the script weak and mediocre. There is a reason why there was barely any advertising for this film. It just came and went like most under-marketed/mediocre films. I guess if you like this style of humor, and any of the terrible schlock that tries to be funny, but is just painful to sit through on Comedy Central, and want a raunchy low-brow stop-motion flick, then you might like it. As for me, I would just skip it and get something like Rex the Runt, or any of the other Aardman and Laika films if you want to watch a stop-motion film. Just comes to show that, sometimes, what the marketing gives you is what you get. Well, we are getting close to the 30th review, so how about we talk about a movie that is an interesting bit of animation? Next time, we take a look at Henry & Me. Thanks for reading this article, I hope you liked it, and see you next time!

Rating: Lackluster!