Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Emoji Movie Adoption Movie Review (SPOILERS)

The bustling city of Textopolis lies hidden in your smartphone, waiting to help you communicate. Each app is its own little world; Textopolis is made up of the emojis that live in your text app. One of the emojis, a young “meh” face named Gene, is very excited for his first day on the job, but he gets nervous and causes a disaster that leads their phone owner to decide to erase his phone. In an attempt to save their world, one of the emojis attempts to have Gene deleted, which sends him into flight.  
All the emojis are supposed to have one face, one emotion, and one thing that they do very well. Gene feels multiple emotions and shows multiple faces, which a leading emoji believes is a malfunction. The other emojis eventually see the value in Gene’s range of expressions when Gene is able to create a unique emoji to help the phone’s owner (a preteen boy) communicate his complicated feelings of shyness and interest to his crush.

The Adoption Connection

There is no adoption connection in the movie. The film does highlight the value of different and complex emotions, and that could be helpful for kids who have a hard time owning and expressing their feelings. Inside Out did it better, and with more complexity, but if your kids are begging to see the Emoji Movie, you could put it to some degree of good use. (In Inside Out, a character’s emotions help her navigate her feelings of ambivalence after moving to a new state; in The Emoji Movie, a character’s emojis help him tell a girl that he likes her).

Strong Points

Gene’s parents love him even when he falls out of favor with the community.

Gene’s unique emotions are a positive, not a negative.

Girls aren’t limited to being princesses and brides; they can be computer geniuses, too.

A character acknowledges that “looking out for number one” isn’t so great if there aren’t any other numbers – we need each other.

Gene’s dad is eventually able to express his loving emotions towards Gene.


The animated short before the movie features a very large dog who pees a lot.

Gene’s parents do care about him, but his mom has a hard time showing it because she is a “meh” emoji and is unable to express any emotions other than a vague disinterest. Her words convey her true feelings of concern, but they’re not matched by her tone or facial expressions.

A leading emoji basically tries to kill Gene; their whole world is nearly destroyed when their owner tries to erase his phone.

One of the emojis is cruel; she hopes to delete Gene in front of everyone.

Gene sees his parents deleted; they are quickly restored, however.


You know how some board games have an app version, and how the app version is sort of like the real thing, but not quite as good? So, this movie is kind of the app version of Inside Out. It’s got a similar message about the value of emotions (and anthropomorphized emotions; and a memory dump place; and a forgotten old favorite), but it’s not as strong, not as far reaching, and not as well done. This movie isn’t as bad as its reputation; it’s just not great. There are plenty of nods to today’s culture that might appeal to preteens, and some of the concepts seem helpful for the age: your emotions are all valid; you might be ready for things that your parents might not think you’re ready for; failing doesn’t mean you’re a failure; people “knowing” you is different from people “liking” you on Facebook (that one isn’t really unpacked); parental love is dependable. This one should be OK for kids ages 7-11 or so.

Questions for Discussion

What are your favorite emojis?

If you had to be an emoji, what would be your top 3 picks?

What do you want to be?

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