The Emoji Movie: The Citizen Kane of Our Generation?

This article was published in our bimonthly satire issue: The Zircon.

Luke Skywalker—Staff Writer


Photo By: Sandy Sanderford

Last week, I saw the long-awaited blockbuster hit “The Emoji Movie.” Yes, I know it came out several months ago, but who’s writing this, you or me? This is my un-ironic and 100% serious review, not yours. Anyways, where were we? Ah yes: “The Emoji Movie.”

Expectations were high. Emojis, as everyone knows, are a popular symbol across the globe, and an absolute staple of pop culture. Who could forget such loveable characters as Train, Mushroom and Tiny Piano? Then there’s the timeless Top Hat, the memorable 8 Ball and everybody’s favorite: The Finnish Flag. Needless to say, the anticipation for this film was unlike any I’ve ever had  before.

No movie could ever stand up to the hype of this colossal and ambitious project: not Star Wars, not Finding Nemo, not the Shawshank Redemption, not any Marvel movie, not Schindler’s List, not even The Bee Movie itself can stand up to the triumph that is “The Emoji Movie.”

Sony Pictures Animation once again steals the show with what is ultimately a deeply moving, highly innovative and—not at all—terrible modern masterpiece. With “The Emoji Movie,” Director Tony Leondis sets a new, even higher standard for Sony’s already-perfect track record.

The film centers around a young Emoji named Gene (played by T.J. Miller), who is a “meh” emoji. He is truly relatable in every way; from his inability to function to his inability to be likable to his inability to be funny. It’s genius. He’s the modern-day Citizen Kane.

Like the other Emojis, Gene lives inside Alex’s phone. Alex is a multi-dimensional, highly conceptual stroke of scriptwriting genius, because like most of those gosh darn millennial teenagers, he doesn’t know how to talk to other people outside of texting.

But the brilliance doesn’t stop there. This 21st century Charles Foster Kane archetype launches viewers  into a zany, wacky adventure. Alex  accidentally makes an unreadable face and—gasp—sends it to his crush Abbie. Now she doesn’t know what he’s trying to tell her! What will they do? They obviously can’t speak to each other, that would be silly.

So, back to our hero Gene Kane. He gets banished by Smiler, a smiley emoji and the modern-day equivalent of Hitler in the phone world. Smiley will certainly take the place of Darth Vader as the most menacing antagonist of all time.

But Gene is soon rescued by a very funny and not at all annoying emoji named Hi-5, played by the equally funny and not at all annoying James Corden. Just remember, he’s funny.

Hi-5 is also an outcast, because, he’s a hand, so, obviously nobody likes him and he’s relatable. Another ingenious move on the part of the writers. Truly, I have never before seen a character with such depth and complexity as Hi-5. He’s not just a comic-relief sidekick—he’s a comic-relief sidekick who looks like a hand. A bold move to say the least.

Hi-5 and Gene team up with Jailbreak (Anna Faris); a strong, independent, hacker emoji who serves a powerful image of self-empowerment for women and a perfect role model for feminism, because she’s played by an actual woman. It is truly amazing what progressive times we live in, giving women roles in movies. Jailbreak is by far the most innovative and completely original character of them all. You’ve never seen a character like her before in any movie, anywhere, ever.

One of the most brilliant artistic choices of the Emoji Movie is the use of product placement. While other filmmakers tend to stray away from the insertion of corporate messages in their art, The Emoji Movie takes the industry in a bold new step towards full length, feature film commercials. There are so many apps in this movie, from Spotify to Instagram to Twitter. It’s just like real life, guys.

Perhaps the real crown jewel of the Emoji Movie is Sir Patrick Stewart’s role as “Poop.” “Poop” is actually the first poop character in a major motion picture to be played by a literal pile of @*!#. A resounding victory for poops everywhere, as they have always dreamed of acting but never got the chance to live their dream to due to societal prejudices and bigoted casting trends in Hollywood. Indeed, it is a big step for poop rights activists everywhere.

There is no doubt in my mind “The Emoji Movie” will forever be remembered as The Citizen Kane of our time, the crown jewel of modern filmmaking that will inspire future generations of filmmakers and set the standard for the future of the movies.


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