Back in November 2015 when the Emoji Movie was announced, it was written off as a cheap cash grab, but few could have predicted what was to come. Like Harry Potter on his first Christmas morn at Hogwarts, we awake with surprise to find a delightful cinematic present under the tree.
Writer-director extraordinarie Tony Leondis, known for his work on direct-to-video classics such as ‘Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch’ and ‘Kronk’s New Groove’ took the helm for this, his first widely released film. While watching this film, I would not be surprised if you drew parallels to animation greats such as Walt Disney, for they do share many similar flairs for filmmaking. For example both Leondis and Disney have an innate ability to craft a enchanting story, immersing the viewer in their fantasy world. Disney took inspiration from fairytales. Leondis’ fairytale was Toy Story, a centuries old tale that modern children couldn’t relate to anymore, so he adapted it for the 21st century toy, the emoji.
The leading role of the ‘Meh’ emoji is played by TJ Miller but his performance is eclipsed in every way by former Gavin and Stacey star James Corden who plays the ‘Hi-5’ emoji. Voice acting has never been recognised by the Academy but there will undoubtedly be some discussion behind the scenes about this topic, and there would be no better year to introduce the category than 2017.
Corden gives a nuanced and complex performance as the bandana wearing hand, provoking a deep emotional reaction the likes of which haven’t been seen since Adam Sandler’s role as both titular characters in 2011’s Jack and Jill. Thankfully, it won’t be long until we see Corden in another voice acting role as his next film, an animated adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, is right around the corner.
In the film industry, producers and studios increasingly favour established characters and stories, and original ideas such as that of Leondis can struggle to attain the funding needed to make. This obstacle was overcome with an ingenious idea after Leondis saw that he could receive money in advance from corporations by featuring their products, notably that Heineken paid a reported $45 million to have James Bond drink their beer in Skyfall. Therefore to raise the $50 million necessary for the budget he would just have to rewrite the script to give these corporations bang for their bucks.
Not only did this help the film turn a profit before it even hits the cinema, but we the viewers get introduced to various exciting bits of technology. Video game series Just Dance and the app Candy Crush both had ten minute segments dedicated solely to them. Facebook, YouTube, Shazam, Dropbox, Spotify, Instagram, Yelp, Twitter and WeChat all feature too. Parents can relish the fact they don’t need to teach their children the important life lessons, like how in Candy Crush arranging three of the same colour candies together in a row eliminates them, because films like this do it for them.
Whether you 🙂 it or 😦 it there will certainly be a sequel, simply because any animation about small and yellow people is a sure fire hit with children. Perhaps we will get a walkthrough on how to buy something on eBay or Amazon with daddy’s credit card while the XD emoji dual wields Mountain Dew branded fidget spinners. We can only wait and see.