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Feature FilmIdeas/Commentary

A Talking Piece of Shit Appears in ‘The Emoji Movie’ Teaser—And It’s Still Meh

Sometimes it’s not a question of whether something is good or bad, it’s simply a question of why. Like, why is this movie being made?

That’s pretty much the only thought that ran through my head as I watched Sony Picture Animation’s first teaser for The Emoji Movie:

Is a Meh character speaking in a monotone (voiced by Steven Wright) supposed to be funny? I don’t care. I also don’t care about the pre-packaged Hollywood messages about expressing yourself (the “Express Yourself” subtitle has thankfully been removed), and I really don’t care about whether the emojis can “save their world before it’s deleted forever.”

On these points, I think I’m in agreement with Sony because they really don’t seem to care about any of this either. As we pointed out earlier this year, The Emoji Movie is designed to be “one long commercial for mobile apps” and that news was confirmed this morning with new details released by Sony.

Sony describes the whole thing as an “epic app-venture.” Key product placements in the film will include Candy Crush Saga, Dropbox, Instagram, Just Dance, Spotify, Twitter, and YouTube, while apps like Crackle, Facebook, Shazam, Snapchat, and Twitch will also appear in the movie. Per Sony:

Some apps are presented as standalone worlds of their own that come to life in thrilling ways. In the music streaming app Spotify, characters ride rushing streams made of music. In Candy Crush Saga, our heroes are trapped inside the game board and must play through the levels in order to survive.

“We knew early on that we wanted actual apps in the movie, to ground it in reality and raise the stakes for our characters,” said Kristine Belson, president of Sony Pictures Animation. “The fact that each app we approached said yes right away was an incredible testament to how engaging and relevant this movie is.”

Tony Leondis (Igor, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch) is directing The Emoji Movie, based on a script written by himself, Eric Siegel, and Mike White. Columbia Pictures releases Emojimovie in U.S. theaters on August 4, 2017.

A final note that almost seems beside the point, but Sony also created a vertical version of the trailer. That version has the same animation as the teaser above, but is designed to be viewed on mobile platforms.

  • Davion Alexander Blackwíng

    Of course the apps didn’t say no to having their likeliness in the movie – who would say no to free publicity? God, Sony has always been a product-placement placer in their movies, but god this raises the band.

  • I find it hysterical that 2016 gave us such diverse and great animated features that so far what we have to look forward to in 2017 is Emojis, Boss Baby, Smurfs and Cars 3 (among some hopefuls and other sequels). Yay Hollywood!!!

    • ea

      Thank god for GKIDS.

      • Dusty Ayres

        GKIDS’s stuff tends to be small scale and not popular and also released to art movie/foreign film welcoming theaters like TIFF Bell Lightbox here in Toronto.

    • GOATmaybe

      Cars 3 looks like they’re trying something different though, hopefully it could be good. Otherwise yeah 2017 not as vibrant as this year.

  • I notice they are setting comments to be moderated and then never approving of any of the comments.

    Well that film looks like a syngergistic bucket of nope.

  • Phin68

    Cartoon Brew, I see you chose to cover The Emoji Movie’s teaser over Cars 3.

    I’m not saying either movie will be good. I’m just putting that out there.

  • GS

    Hmm. Cartoon Brew seemed to like Angry Birds, the movie.

  • Oscar
  • Tony

    For the record, Steven Wright can be hysterically funny, because the monotone delivery is used for bizarre non-sequitur comments. The line in the trailer “Bring the whole family. Doesn’t have to be your family” is more in keeping with his brand of comedy.

    • GOATmaybe

      I was kinda shocked to hear his voice.

      • Inkan1969

        He’s done children’s animation before. “The Swan Princess” and the “Hercules” TV series.

        • GOATmaybe

          I actually recently watched The Swan Princess. Man those musical numbers were just so unnecessary. Still at least with that film I got more of what I expect from a performance by him.

  • ea

    Are emojis even owned by a single company, or are they like public domain?

    • Mermaid Warrior

      I’ve been wondering the same thing. I would GUESS that specific designs may be owned by companies, but anyone can make their own generic ones too. If that’s the case, it would explain why emoji stuff is everywhere, it’s a familiar thing that anyone can profit on. (and as someone else mentioned, they’re probably purchased as gifts for people the buyer doesn’t know very well, ha ha)

  • Trent

    “The fact that each app we approached said yes right away was an incredible testament to how engaging and relevant this movie is.” This made me LOL

  • RedHerring

    The Lego movie was great!

  • KW

    The people buying that stuff are probably clueless aunts, uncles and grandparents getting it for their 5 year old nieces, nephews and grand kids.

    • Mermaid Warrior

      I figured as much. Definitely seems like something you’d buy for someone you don’t know very well.

  • Didney Worl

    This movie is so cynical that even the trailer has to admit how cynical it is.

  • Didney Worl

    Let that be an indicator of just how little people care about making an emoji movie.

  • Dave 52

    At least with Smurfs: The Lost Village I see more effort being put into it than the previous films and it is being more true to the source material. There is a driving force to make an actual good Smurfs movie and I can see it. Heck, with the exception of the balls joke some jokes were actually funny and I am very intrigued to find out the backstory of these new mysterious Smurfs and explore the vibrant world they have created for the characters. With this movie I don’t know. I just don’t know. Let’s just wait and see.

    As for DreamWorks, you never really know with them. Next year could he surprisingly good or bad for them. I do love Boss Baby’s animation style and some jokes did genuinely make me laugh and Captain Underpants does have my interest particularly for it’s animation that is similar to The Peanuts Movie. Let’s hope that next year is at least decent.

    • Mermaid Warrior

      Yeah, I see potential for something good in the Smurfs trailer. (also keep in mind that so many kid’s movies throw in only one or two lowbrow jokes and make them prominent in the trailer, when the rest of the movie isn’t like that) They created an interesting-looking world with an interesting plot. If nothing else, it at least looks like it has heart in it, like it’s not purely a cash grab like the live-action movies seemed to be.

  • James Brawnson

    Why do you still read CB if all you’re going to do is bitch every week. Go to Jerry Beck’s blog and pretend that nothing is wrong with modern feature animation.

  • Chicken McPhee

    Yeah, yeah, your executives were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they forgot to stop to think if they should.

    But really, emojis are a pictographic way to communicate emotions. They are/look different on different systems. And since they are an extension of the keyboard, this is….keyboard…the movie.

  • Marie

    The announcement of this movie is not far: https://youtu.be/oRDK2fa4qtU

  • Fried

    The answer is in the first two sentences, but I’m sure you didn’t make it past the first word.

  • Renard N. Bansale

    “A film is like an illness that is expelled from the body.”
    — Federico Fellini

  • Matt shep

    Ee. The most embarrassing part was the cornea intersection around the 24 second mark….clean that up..wouldnt havr made mich difference but still..clean up

  • Netko

    I actually meant 2015, not 2016. That was a typo on my part.

    We’re not talking about solely “spectacular” movies here, we’re talking about how low the bar is set. There are always bad movies, but not all are as bad and lacking in dignity as some others. If you seriously didn’t notice a rise in garbage premises in recent years, then I have no idea what to tell you. Mainstream movies have always needed to make money, but there is a huge difference between a movie trying to appeal to a wide demographic and a desperate attempt to suck up to an audience in every conceivable way to the point where you greenlight a movie based on a time-wasting mobile game. This goes beyond not having a good premise for a movie, it’s basically insisting on killing a good premise and new ideas and hoping that brand recognition makes up for that.

    Pretending that every piece of garbage that gets a trailer just looks bad because of “marketing” and that everything should be “given a chance” no matter how horrible it looks, well, even if all you do with your life is sit on your butt watching cartoons, these movies are still a waste of your time and brain-cells. Boss Baby is going to be garbage, anyone with a shred of experience and common sense can see that. Why in the world would I give it a chance when its premise is stupid and what they did with the premise is stupid? Why? Because some inexperienced internet anon said so? Have no fear, when I predict that a movie will be bad, it’s not because I have prophetic powers or engage in dark magic. It’s nothing supernatural. When you’re basically never wrong about a bad-looking movie being bad, it’s completely irrational to still act like there isn’t a pattern there.

    I don’t understand why you think people should not complain about terrible movies while they’re still being pumped out. Do you expect them to suddenly go quiet about a problem despite the problem still being there? So what, Angry Birds comes out, is bad, Trolls comes out, is bad, Boss Baby comes out, is bad, Emoji movie comes out, is bad and we’re supposed to just get used to it? Because repeating the same problem a dozen times somehow, by some bizarre logic, makes the problem disappear? Or are you actually acting like all those terrible movies were actually good? Yeah, the Good Dinosaur sure showed us not to judge a book by its cover! Look at all those people jumping to conclusions.

    Can we get rid of this stupid idea that the only thing animated movies could possibly be good for is “hiring animators”? That it’s simply impossible to create movies that both hire animators and are actually good? No, really, can we stop that? Please? I and plenty of other people are not going to support crap just because “it hires animators”. That’s the nature of business. People won’t pity you and throw money at you solely because “you hire people”.

    Trolls IS Dreamworks’ dying breath. Why do you think Boss Baby looks so bad compared to their previous movies? They can’t afford themselves to put as much money into their terrible ideas that no-one is watching. If you think DW isn’t going through a crisis because people aren’t watching their garbage, then you haven’t been paying any attention to what has been going on in this industry. DW wants a profit like Disney, but they keep greenlighting movie ideas on the level of low-budget features that call it a success to break $100 mil.

    “And the fact that you’re trying to justify the different levels of commercialization between Sing and Emoji Movie on such miro-levels is absurd.”
    I have no idea what you’re talking about here. Where did I defend Sing? Sing brags with having over 80 popular songs crammed into it and is about a talent show. The only thing it has going for it is that it was at least allowed to have more than one main character.

    As for CB being click-baity, duh. Not sure how that’s related though to them being hypocrites, as you seem to think they are.

    • Fried

      This is basically several paragraphs of a person trying to justify why non-stop jaded pessimism towards animation is a good thing, considering you think Angry Birds and Trolls are bad and think that Trolls still is Dreamworks dying breath despite being a decent movie and honestly no different than Over The Hedge in terms of writing. Yes, DW is going through a crisis, but that isn’t indicative of Trolls, Shrek 5 is that indicator because the franchise was suppose to be done with.

      And your point about hiring animators, yes, that is STILL something to be happy for because these are businesses, these are not charity buildings who are giving money to people in hopes of bringing out their vision. If Laika and Don Bluth have proved anything, it’s that you won’t get money based on pure artistic vision alone. While Emoji Movie may be the other end of the spectrum of the ART BUSINESS bar, assuming that somehow a movie makes money because it’s good is insanely naive. Kubo, Rise of the Guardians, Epic, Aardman’s Pirates, Fantastic Mr Fox, Iron Giant. There are way more factors in place on whether or not a movie makes money and just “whether or not it’s good” is barely one of them.

      I don’t see a reason to complain about every movie that comes out because they are not worth complaining about. You seem to think the bar is insanely low but if you actually take a look at the CG scene overseas, you will run into just pure shit. CB announces them all the time. Movies like Ozzy? Or Open Season 47? Norm of the North? Those are shit. If movies like Emoji Movie truly anger you, then you’ve been blessed with either never working in the industry on shit projects or never bothering with checking out overseas productions that was not Ghibli or Chomet.

      If I’m going to complain about something, it’s not going to be about Dreamworks cancelling Me and My Shadow but greenlighting Boss Baby because, “Why did they do that! Shadow was so much prettier!” as if a pretty animation test can tell what kind of production hell it went through. Or whining why did Popeye get canned for Emoji Movie? Popeye was so much better! When I’m sure one of the reasons is that it’s because Peanuts was not a commercial success.

      I’d rather get mad at Sony execs themselves for dropping the ball with Miller, Lord, Faust, and Tartakovsky. Emoji Movie is merely a symptom of that, but to be angry at that directly and call the jokes garbage and point “Look! At frame 23, there’s an animation error!” isn’t focusing your anger on the higher-ups but the people trying their best to work on it. Yes, the movie still looks inferior to Popeye, but I know who to be angry at. It’s not going to be the director of Emoji Movie but Kristine Belson.

      I’m not saying just brush away all your feelings and love every piece of animation, but just throwing your frustration anywhere rather than understanding the industry is just going to make you a jaded person that will end up hating all animation because it’s extremely easy to look at Boss Baby and get pissed off rather than rightfully channeling your pissiness towards the higher-ups who keep trying to find the next Shrek when they had Dragon and Panda but they keep fucking up by spoiling their movies with bad marketing teams. If you do that, you can actually look past the fact that you’ll never see Boss Baby but realize it has a couple of funny jokes in the trailer.

      Or you could just resort to being one of those people who keeps spouting things like, “They should cancel ___ and greenlight___ instead because it looks pretty”. I mean, if you want to be an ignorant and cynical, sure, but I don’t know why you would even be interested in the Hollywood scene unless it’s strictly for Pixar and Disney original films. Why not just go for Europe and Japan 2D movies if you only want to surround yourself around good content?

      • Netko

        Why would I not be jaded about animation? What exactly have big studios ever done for me that I should be required to watch their repetitive commitee-approved boredom over and over again? Why should I not expect a big company that will invest a hundred million dollars into a feature to come up with something better than Home?

        “Yes, DW is going through a crisis, but that isn’t indicative of Trolls”
        A poor attempt to revive a dead toyline is not indicative of DW’s desperation? Ok.

        Half of your examples were bad movies (Epic and Rise of the Guardians especially) or stop-motion, which generally doesn’t sell well for whatever reason. Still, you might notice I never once stated that quality is the only thing that determines the success of a movie. Things such as likeability and accessibility play a huge role, but those can easily work alongside other qualities that make a good movie, as Pixar and Disney have consistently proven (coincidentally, Disney got out of its rut just as they started making good movies and vice versa for Pixar). The best movies that have given animators jobs or kept them off streets are the ones that many people legitimately enjoyed and paid to see. Yes, believe it or not, you can make good movies AND be successful. I’m really baffled that people think this is such a strange concept considering the state of the industry in recent years.

        So when terrible premises get greenlit it’s “don’t judge a movie by its terrible premise”, when the movie ends up being bad it’s “don’t judge a movie by what they did with the premise”. What exactly can any person with a semblance of taste do to ever be allowed to call a movie for what it is? Or is that a taboo thing to do because criticizing these features is like a personal attack on animators?
        The animators and writers working on these features are doing their jobs. They probably know they’re working on a stupid premise with no potential, but like any other job, there are parts you put your soul into and parts that you just have to do for a paycheck. I’m not going to pretend a movie looks better than it is just because I pity the animators. That’s just about the most shallow way of looking at entertainment that I can think of. You might as well just not watch movies if the only thing they’re good for according to you are hiring animators.

        As for Europe and Japan, yes, I do want to watch their good movies, I really do. Unfortunately actually getting them is the problem because unlike mainstream animation they don’t end up in theatres near me. You’re acting like all those low-quality foreign animated movies are the only things that sell, when that’s really not the case. Hell Norm of the North was a huge failure, so I don’t get why people are defending that kind of garbage as if it’s a fool-proof recipe for success, when it isn’t. But besides that, Zootopia and Inside Out are great examples of high-quality mainstream Hollywood movies. Big-budget films are not some kid’s projects or a few friends that decided to make a film and now they lack experience. These are movies that have over a hundred millions dollars invested in them. I damn well think I should be allowed to expect a quality product from people hired for supposedly being better than the average person at making movies.

  • Bobby Bickert

    Jerry Beck has a second blog, Animation Scoop, that covers recent animation news. The latest post (as I type this) is a review of Sing by Charles Solomon. (And it isn’t a favorable one.)

  • Dusty Ayres

    There was nothing wrong with Home aside from the fact that people like yourselves couldn’t stand a popular back entertainer like Rihanna being in it and voicing the human girl, most likely.

  • Kristopher Brewer

    Yeah. I just can’t understand the idea behind this other than, “let’s make a 90 minute commercial”. Does anybody here remember “Food Fight!”? Does anybody remember the central theme of that movie which is big corporations with colorful mascots are good and buying generic brands are like supporting the nazis? Does anybody remember how crappy it looked and how terrible the script and overall story was?

    Well here we have a 90 minute commercial with prominent product placement for not only a bunch of apps but the whole concept of emojis.

    This isn’t going to end well.