THE EMOJI MOVIE — Review by Susan Granger

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For technology luddites and those who have never encountered a smartphone, Emoji are pictographs and ideograms that are used to convey electronic messages via texts. Originating on Japanese mobile phones in the late 1990s, Emojis were popularized by Apple’s iPhone and soon adopted by Android and other mobile operating systems. Their addictive popularity led to inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster. While their meanings can be culture-specific, their use is now almost universal. Continue reading…

Which undoubtedly led to Sony’s financing this $50 million animated feature. Co-written and directed by Tony Leondis, it’s obviously aiming for the same juvenile audience that crowded “The LEGO Movie.”

Set in Textopolis, a fanciful workplace within an adolescent boy’s smartphone, the story revolves around Gene (voiced by T.J. Miller), an emoji that was created without a filter, meaning he’s a nonconformist, able to express multiple emotions.

Gene’s task is to be the “meh” (or disinterest) symbol, but he wants to be more than just that. Which is why his sinister supervisor Smiler (voiced by Maya Rudolph) orders him terminated. Unwilling to accept his fate, Gene and his once-popular buddy Hi-5 (voiced by James Corden) go off in search of help.

Eventually, an error involving a punk hacker dubbed Jailbreak (voiced by Anna Faris) catapults Gene on a trip that allows him to get reprogrammed so he can be what the world wants him to be.

Being generous, this entire endeavor could be interpreted as a metaphor so that youngsters who feel they “don’t fit in” can experience comfort and camaraderie.

Product placements abound: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Candy Crush, Just Dance, Spotify, Dropbox and the Cloud. And whatever they paid British actor Sir Patrick Stewart to portray the Poop emoji, it’s a credit that will quickly be dropped from his resume.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Emoji Movie” is a mind-numbing 1. It’s cinematic malware, a total time-waster.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.