Adventure Animation

'The Emoji Movie' Blu-ray Review: There's a positive message here, but you'll have to dig deep to find it

November 28, 2017Ben MK

When you start at rock bottom, there's nowhere left to go but up. That, in a nutshell, sums up The Emoji Movie, a computer-animated adventure set within the smartphone of a high school freshman named Alex (Jake T. Austin).

T.J. Miller (HBO's Silicon Valley) voices Gene, a Meh emoji whose first day on the job doesn't go quite as planned. Unable to control his many emotions, deemed a malfunction by his boss, Smiler (Maya Rudolph), and targeted for deletion, Gene and his fellow misbegotten emoji, Hi-5 (James Corden), go on the run, fleeing the emoji city of Textopolis in search of the hacker Jailbreak (Anna Faris). Together, the trio embark on an adventure through the various apps on Alex's phone as they try to make their way to the relative safety of the cloud, evading and attempting to outsmart Smiler's deadly Antivirus Bots along the way.

Despite the vapidness of the premise and the obvious attempt to cross-promote such apps as Just Dance, Spotify, YouTube and Instagram, it's clear that director Tony Leondis and his co-writers, Eric Siegel and Mike White, are going for something here, following in the footsteps of movies like Toy Story, Wreck-It Ralph, Inside Out and The LEGO Movie. And in trying to build a world around these characters, to a certain extent, they succeed.

To say that Gene and company are worthy successors to Woody, Ralph, Joy or Emmet, however, would be somewhat of an affront to those films. While The Emoji Movie does carry a positive message of acceptance, it ultimately feels like little more than an excuse to sell phones and app subscriptions — and a thinly veiled one at that.

The Emoji Movie impresses on Blu-ray, delivering a crystal-clear 1080p image and a boisterous 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix. From the tiny details found in every corner of Textopolis to the contrast between the warm fall hues of Alex's world and the vibrant, rainbow-colored palette of Gene's, the film's vivid and lively visuals are truly a sight to behold, while the sound design is sure to please viewers with a keen ear for cartoonish sound effects and radio-friendly pop music from everyone from Wham! to Pitbull featuring Christina Aguillera.

Sony's single-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Directors & Animators Commentary - Director/Co-Writer Tony Leondis, Head of Story Mark Sperber, Production Designer Carlos Zaragoza and Head of Layout James Williams talk about the film's production design, the cinematography, the jokes, the character design and animation, the various challenges they encountered along the way, the voice performances, the score and more.
  • Puppy! An Original Hotel Transylvania Short (5:00) - Dennis' new puppy wreaks havoc at the Hotel Transylvania.
  • Jailbreak Decoded: The Untold Story (1:56) - A deleted scene in rough storyboard form that delves into Jailbreak's backstory.
  • "Good Vibrations" Dance Along (2:38) - A dance-along video for the Ricky Reed song.
  • Gimme a Hand! Guess the Emoji Game (5:37) - James Corden as Hi-5 and Maya Rudolph as Smiler host this game where kids try to guess the mystery emoji.
  • Express Yourself: Meet the Cast (6:45) - Leondis and the cast talk about the characters played by T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Patrick Stewart, Sofia Vergara, Christina Aguillera and Jake T. Austin.
  • Sweet App-etite: Make Your Own Candy Crush Saga Cake (6:24) - Hi-5 is back to show kids how to make a Candy Crush Saga inspired cake.
  • Girls Can Code! (5:40) - Anna Faris introduces this featurette that focuses on a handful of students at Marlborough School in Los Angeles learning to draw and animate with code.
  • Choreographing Emoji with Matt Steffanina (3:33) - Choreographer Matt Steffanina talks about his work on the film.
  • Creating the World Inside Your Phone (4:38) - Leondis, Zaragoza and Williams give viewers a look at the visual design of the film.
  • Bringing Emojis to Life (3:22) - A look at the character designs of the film.
  • How to Draw Poop (3:35) - Character Designer Andy Bialk shows viewers how to draw the poop emoji.
  • How to Draw Gene (3:17) - Bialk returns to show viewers how to draw Gene.
  • "Good Vibrations" Lyric Video (3:49) - A sing-along video for the Ricky Reed song.

The Emoji Movie is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of October 24th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Cantonese, French, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese subtitles. The total runtime is 1 hr. 26 min.

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