‘Emoji Movie’: Is Anyone Really Trying Anymore?

Hollywood keeps turning to old tricks for new flicks

Anything can be a movie these days, including those little digital icons on your phone that express emotion — known as emojis. Though it would seem to be a new low for Hollywood studios to be adapting emojis into a film, it’s happening. For proof, please refer to the recently released and somehow very real trailer.

The advertisement teases a film that doesn’t appear to be trying, but that seems to be the joke — it uses comedian Steven Wright’s voice as the “meh” emoji. Writers and producers think it’s OK to mine terrible ideas, as long as they acknowledge what they’re doing is just awful.

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That joke has sort of worked in the past. When Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum were part of a tongue-in-cheek conversation in 2012’s remake “21 Jump Street” about being included in a new and improved “Jump Street” crew — it was at least smirk-inducing.

Writer and star Jonah Hill knew the notion of a new “Jump Street” movie was a little wacky and wanted to acknowledge such on screen. “We’re reviving a canceled undercover program from the ’80s,” says a character in “21 Jump Street,” in reference to the decades-old television drama.

When it happened again in “22 Jump Street” — there’s another layered conversation that basically admits the first movie making money forced them to throw another film out — it was a little tiring. “Nobody cared about the Jump Street reboot, but you got lucky,” says a character in the film, referencing both the fictional events of the first movie as well as the original’s very real box office success.

“You know the world has hit rock bottom when there’s an emoji movie coming out.”

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A recently released “Baywatch” trailer, set to hit theaters in the summer, suggests it is going the same route in adapting the famed and long-running ’90s television series starring David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. “It’s up to us to restore the Baywatch brand,” says one character in the trailer, clearly making a jab at the revival of a long-dormant franchise.

“The Emoji Movie” has taken the concept of acknowledging tiring ideas within the context of a fictional story to a whole new extreme — releasing a trailer that basically shrugs its shoulders in trying to sell a flick that likely very few actually want to see. After all, who has ever looked at the emojis on their phone and thought, “Wow, what a great movie those would make?” No one.

The trailer and running gag of Hollywood’s desperate attempts to avoid anything original is not inspiring much confidence with potential moviegoers.

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“You know the world has hit rock bottom when there’s an emoji movie coming out next year,” tweeted @Holtfrerich about the film trailer.

The sentiment was shared by many others on social media. “‘Lena Dunham’ ‘Azealia Banks’ ‘Glenn Beck’ ‘The Emoji Movie’ Havent we been through enough this year without digging around in the dumpster,” tweeted @McGani (punctuation all this tweeter’s own).

Animator and VFX artist @Stu_FX tweeted, “Lets all take a moment to respect/reach out to the poor animators at Sony who are working on the emoji movie.”

“It’s almost too thrilling for words,” says Steven Wright’s emoji in the teaser trailer.

Instead of recycling ideas and scraping the bottom depths of brand names for content and then acknowledging it’s all one big joke, studios should begin looking up from their phones and nostalgic memories to produce original and exciting films about the times we live in and about compelling characters with recognizable dilemmas.

For now, we have “The Emoji Movie.” As Wright’s “meh” emoji flatly ends the trailer: “I’m positively euphoric right now.”

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