© Sony Pictures Releasing GmbH

Emoji - Der Film (The Emoji Movie)
U.S.A. 2017

Opening 3 Aug 2017

Directed by: Tony Leondis
Writing credits: Tony Leondis, Eric Siegel, Mike White
Principal actors: T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright

Emoji are graphic designs, icons, pictograms and smileys present in mobile phones. They can be called up to enhance a message to a friend, no matter the language. Probably the most popular is a small yellow circle with a smiley face. The term originates from Japan, where they were first used. Now we have an animated film about 300 hundred different emojis, 50 familiar ones, as well as 250 originals, all living together in a city called Textopolis. There are many round yellow faces, as well as a hand, flamenco dancer, toaster, fire hydrant, stop sign, devil, coffee cup, hat, doughnut, you name it. My favorite looked like a piece of chocolate, but was actually a turd, with the appropriate name: Poop. They are all available on the mobile phone of a young boy named Alex. They wait in constant suspense to be called up on his phone, the more often, the better as they all strive to be rated “most popular.”

The story revolves around Gene, a typical, round, yellow-faced emoji, who is supposed to represent a nonchalant/uninterested/bored symbol which has no opinion about anything. The problem is, Gene cannot keep within his character, due to a disturbance in his make-up. He hooks up with his best friend Hi-5 (the hand) and they find Jailbreak, a code-breaking emoji. The story then follows them on their adventures through many aps on their way to The Cloud.

The look, design and colors are excellently organized by Carlos Zaragoza and David Alexander Smith and their team. There are 27 songs, including many familiar ones such as “Look me up before you go go.”  On the other hand, the story lags, is too predictable. Although many words are universal, such as Dropbox, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, to name just a few, I kept thinking that the text might be more exciting, funny and inviting in the original English.  (I saw it in German.). Many children were in my audience. Younger ones found it too stressful; older ones were not so impressed. Most satisfied were those about 9-11 years old. We “oldies” can see the film to educate ourselves in the world of aps such as Candy Crush, Just Dance, Spotify, WeChat; we can even pretend to be an emoji expert in our next conversation with a nine-year-old. (Becky Tan)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.