Film: "Emoji"; Director: Anthony Leondis; Voices of: T.J. Miller, James Cordea, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge; Rating: **1/2
This animated science fiction with an intelligent concept, which integrates two universes -- one of the mobile smartphones and the other where humans reside, could have been a peculiar and soulful exploration of the worlds that co-exist.
Director Anthony Leondis's attempt is ingenious, but the result falls short on many accounts.
Seeing the emoticons as full-blown large screen animated characters having their own perspective is exciting. The film's main character is a young Emoticon called Gene who lives in the bustling city of Textopolis, which is found inside a mobile phone belonging to a teenage boy named Alex.
When the Emojis are ready for work, they sit in their cubicle on the grid and wait for their phone user to choose them.
Gene hails from the "Meh" family, whose parents have an expression of "indifference" on their visage. Unlike his parents and other emoticons who have a one-dimensional expression, Gene is curious and excitable and thus lands up making multiple facial expressions at a single stretch, thereby revealing a very confusing, indifferent expression.
His parents, Mel Meh (Steven Wright) and Mary Meh (Jennifer Coolidge) don't think he is mature enough to be on the grid. They are proved right when he panics and puts on a silly face, thereby making Alex think that his phone needs to be repaired.
So, Alex takes his phone to the repair centre to reboot the system, which means, Textopolis would be wiped clean and every character or emoticon would be erased. Meanwhile, Smiler (Maya Rudolph), a kind of a grinning dictator, orders that Gene be deleted. So he is chased by bots.
In order to survive, Gene embarks on an epic journey across the phone through its many apps towards a place where no Emoji has ever gone before, namely the "Cloud".
Helping Gene in his endeavour are Hi 5 (James Corden) and the blue haired, punkish pirate princess JailBreak (Anna Faris).
The plot juggles between the two universes.
The burgeoning romance between Alex and a girl in his class in the outside world is mirrored by that inside the phone, between JailBreak and Gene.
Apart from this, the plot gets cumbersome with noise, colours and technicalities of various phone apps. There are a few bizarre and witty moments when the hero and his friends throw off the bots who are chasing them. But as for the story, there is nothing new that one has not witnessed before.
The humour and dialogues are staid and rude, especially with references to Poop icon and Spam, which does not make it fit for kid viewing. And for budding teenagers, the world conjured up is oppressively bland.
The voices lent by the ace cast befits the characters aptly but their dynamic tone and tenor don't make the characters vibrant and full of life.
On the technical front, the animation is well-mounted but the 3D effects don't add any value to the viewing experience.
Overall, "Emoji" is a shallow film that does not hook you emotionally.