In an act of desperation to appeal to that elusive 10-19 year-old demographic, Sony Pictures Animation has released an official full-length trailer for its upcoming feature, The Emoji Movie, which many have said sounds more like a parody of an animated movie than a real one that people actually green-lit. And the trailer doesn’t help its cause; because it is beat-by-beat the same plot as many CG-animated movies that came before it: a journey into the secret life of anthropomorphic [NOUN]s with a protagonist who wants to ___(prove himself. exceed society’s expectations etc.). Toy Story did it first, and many more followed with varying degrees of success.
Perhaps it isn’t fair on my end to pass judgment on a trailer when the movie hasn’t even been released yet, but this one is an exception based on the premise alone. The secret dreams and desires of emojis are not as interesting to teens as the middle aged studio executives think they are. The stakes just aren’t high enough. One of the main themes of this universe, apparently, is that you can’t “make the wrong face” (aka send the wrong emoji) What these out of touch marketing agents don’t understand is that “making the wrong face” has never ruined a potential relationship.
Here are some of the beats that this trailer hits:
- Protagonist who has trouble following in his parents’ footsteps because he is looking for his “purpose”. (He just wants more than this provincial life)
- Blue-haired love interest who is smarter and better at everything than the protagonist, and whose design is so feminized that she cannot be part of the same species as the rest of these characters (example: The green M&M)
- She likes him for who he is!!! Wow.
- An already outdated use of ‘teen slang’ (In this case, it’s “Bye, Felicia”, without context)
- Chubby comic side character played by currently relevant comedian (James Corden)
- A poop joke. Uttered by Sir Patrick Stewart. As a poop emoji.
Look, we can’t blame Sony for re-hashing the same material because it’s been focus-grouped and it works. But the expectations for this one are at a record low just based on the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the teaser alone, which means The Emoji Movie might be the final nail in the coffin that forces these studio executives to start brainstorming new material. That is, unless it makes enough money from people buying tickets out of morbid curiosity. If that happens, this vicious cycle will never end.