Gene Meh is an emoji that lives in Textopolis, a digital and bustling city inside the phone of his user Alex. He is the son of two meh emojis named Mel Meh and Mary Meh who, despite his upbringing, is able to make multiple expressions, in the blink of an eye, which it makes it harder for Gene to fit in, with the other emojis.
His parents are hesitant and worried of him, going to work on the first day, but Gene insists so that he can feel useful, and to become meh like his parents once and for all, without screwing up on his first day, although Gene's parents were still nervous, about him, making expressions.
Upon receiving a text from his crush Addie, Alex decides to send her an emoji. When Gene is selected by Alex, he panics uncontrollably, makes a confusing expression, and wrecks the text center. Gene is called in by Smiler, a female smiley emoji and leader of the text center, who concludes that Gene is a "malfunction" and therefore must be deleted, by some Anti - Virus Bots.
Gene is chased by the Anti - Virus Bots, but is rescued by Hi-5, a once popular hand emoji who has since lost his fame, due to lack of use, and was kicked out of the favorite's section by Fist bump. He tells Gene that he can be fixed if they find a professional computer hacker, and Hi-5 accompanies him on his mission, so that he can reclaim his fame again.
Smiler sends more Anti - Virus Bots to look for Gene when she finds out that he has left Textopolis, as his actions have caused Alex, to think that his phone needs to be fixed. Gene and Hi-5 make it to a piracy app where they meet the hacker emoji Jailbreak, (That Gene falls in love with her), who wants to make it to the Dropbox, so that she can live in the Cloud. The trio are attacked by Smiler's bots, but manage to escape into the game Candy Crush.
Jailbreak reveals that they need to get to the Cloud if Gene wants to get fixed, and the group go off into the Just Dance app, as Hi -5 pressed the red start button, much to Jailbreak's anger & dismay. While dancing in the app alongside, a super cool dancer named Akkio Glitter, Gene teaches Jailbreak how to dance, and while dancing Jailbreak's black beanie comes off, and that is revealed to be a beautiful and gorgeous princess emoji, who is really named Princess Linda.
They are once again attacked by bots, and their actions cause Alex to delete the Just Dance app. Gene and Jailbreak escape, but Hi-5 is taken along with the app and ends up in the trash. Mel and Mary go searching for Gene, and have a very lethargic argument. They make up in the Instagram app, when Mel reveals that he too is also a malfunction, explaining Gene's behavior.
While traveling through the music app Spotify, Jailbreak admits to Gene that she left Textpolis because there was so many rules, and that she hated being a princess, and that Smiler had threatened Jailbreak into turning back, into the princess, otherwise that Jailbreak will be deleted by Smiler and her bots.
Then, Jailbreak tells Gene that she likes him just the way he is, and that he should not be ashamed of his malfunction. Romance blossoms, as the two emojis were almost about share a moment, while gazing into each other's eyes, before they make it to the trash and rescue Hi-5, but are soon attacked by an upgraded bot.
They evade the upgraded - Virus bot and make it to Dropbox, where they encounter a firewall. The gang tried to get past it with a password, but none of them work. So, Hi -5 comes up with a email, that he found in the trash, that Alex was trying to delete.
Jailbreak uses her computer wrist to get it out of the Trash, and Gene reads it: "Dear Addie...You and I, we're like diamonds in the sky. You're a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy. Shine bright like a diamond" (Those quotes are the lyrics of Rihanna's song "Diamonds"). Once Gene finished Alex's email, Jailbreak was touched by that letter, and both Gene and Jailbreak look at each other romantically for a moment, then the moment gets cut short, when Hi -5 intervenes them.
Then, The trio use Addie's name, and make it to the Cloud where Jailbreak prepares to reprogram Gene. In the reprogramming booth, Jailbreak was unsure that Gene wanted to be meh. (Jailbreak didn't want Gene to change, into meh). Suddenly, Gene enters the booth starts to have second thoughts about being reprogrammed to be meh, and he admits his romantic feelings for Jailbreak, and that he wished that he could stay, with her on the Cloud, forever and ever.
But Jailbreak was hesitant of Gene's romantic feelings for her, so she rejected his feelings, as she wishes to only stick to her plan of venturing into the Cloud and exploring new things, and also that she wasn't a princess, waiting for a handsome prince to come rescue her, and that she wasn't looking for romance, deeply saddening Gene, and also turning him meh.
The upgraded bot kidnaps Gene, and Hi-5 and Jailbreak (When Jailbreak finally starts to regret, about what she said to Gene, and she finally realizes, that Gene is more important to her than the Cloud), race after them. As Smiler prepares to delete Gene, Mel and Mary arrive and are also threatened, and Mel shows his expressions, to Smiler and Gene.
Before the bot can delete Gene and Mel, Jailbreak and Hi-5 arrive, (By crashing through the ceiling). But, Hi -5 accidentally face plants himself on the Super - bot, when he was gonna say about how that was a entrance. Jailbreak tries to disable it by herself, but the Super - bot roughly flings Jailbreak on the ground. Suddenly, Hi - 5 shuts down the Super - bot by the press of a button, which gradually falls on top of Smiler, who was about to lunge happily and angrily at Jailbreak.
Gene hurries over to Jailbreak, and Jailbreak says to Gene that she would always be there for him, no matter what, might happen to Gene. Alex has since taken his phone to the store, and asks to have his phone erased to fix the problem. While all the emojis were panicking about getting deleted, they even all thought that Jailbreak and Hi - 5 were all just normal emojis.
But Jailbreak pulls her beanie, to reveal her shimmering crown, much to everyone's shock and astonishment, including Smiler's, who she yells out to Jailbreak: "LINDA!" Out of desperation, Gene prepares to sacrifice himself for the emojis, and needed to texted himself to Addie, also by making numerous faces to express himself.
Just before Gene was about to get scanned, and almost deleted by the phone, Jailbreak finally declares her feelings for Gene, and that she only came back, is that she did't want to live in The Cloud, because she knew that she would be alone without anyone, and that Jailbreak deeply cared for him, and for Gene to be himself. Then, Gene also declares his romantic feelings as well, back to Jailbreak.
Jailbreak smiles and tells Gene that all the memories, are inside him, that he could try to bring it back, and Gene did the memories back. Once Gene was scanned, Jailbreak gave him a romantic smile and a knowing look, and Gene smiled back at Jailbreak, as she was getting deleted.
Outside the phone, Realizing that Addie received a romantic emoji from him, Alex And Addie complimented on how the emoji looked, and how it was okay, to express yourself by about how you're feeling. Then, Alex finally asks Addie to the dance, and stops his phone from getting deleted, by unplugging the wire hookups to his phone, and saving the emojis, and also all of the city, and all the other apps.
After the phone is saved, everyone celebrates & cheers for Gene, for saving the phone. Then, Mel comes over to his son, and Gene shares a massive hug with his father. The next morning, Gene is surprised by a massive dance party, just for him in honor of saving all the emoijs, from the deletion of the phone.
Then, after the party, Gene and the other emojis, head to their cubes, when they all see Jailbreak as the new leader of Textoplis. Gene accepts himself for who he is, becomes Hi -5's friend, who now Hi -5 is now a favorite again, and Gene starts a romantic relationship with Jailbreak, and he gets scanned by Alex, to become an Emoji, on his phone, by expressing himself.
In a mid-credits scene, Smiler is seen wearing numerous braces, her teeth cracked by the bot, and is sitting down in the loser lounge, with the other forgotten and unused emojis, where she loses in a card game of Go Fish.
- T. J. Miller as Gene, The main protagonist, an outsider emoji who can show multiple expressions.
- James Corden as Hi-5, a hand emoji, and Gene's best friend
- Anna Faris as Jailbreak, a codebreaker/princess emoji, and Gene's love interest, later girlfriend.
- Patrick Stewart as a Poop emoji
- Maya Rudolph as Smiler, a smiley emoji, and the main antagonist of the film
- Steven Wright as Mel Meh, Gene's emoji father
- Jennifer Coolidge as Mary Meh, Gene's emoji mother
- Jake T. Austin as Alex, a human who owns a phone where Gene & his Friends live
- Sofía Vergara as Flamenca, a flamenco dancer emoji
- Christina Aguilera as Akiko Glitter, a super cool dancer in the Just Dance app
- Sean Hayes as Steven, a devil emoji
- Rachael Ray as Spam, a spam message
- Tati Gabrielle as Addie McCallister, Alex's crush.
The film was inspired by director Tony Leondis' love of Toy Story. Wanting to make a new take on the concept, he began asking himself, "What is the new toy out there that hasn't been explored?" At the same time, Leondis received a text message with an emoji, which helped him realize that this was the world he wanted to explore. In fleshing out the story, Leondis considered having the emojis visit the real world. However, his producer felt that the world inside a phone was much more interesting, which inspired Leondis to create the story of where and how the emojis lived. As Leondis is gay, he connected to Gene's plight of "being different in a world that expects you to be one thing," and in eventually realizing that the feeling held true for most people, Leondis has said the film "was very personal".
In July 2015, it was announced that Sony Pictures Animation had won the bidding war against Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures over production rights to make the film, with the official announcement occurring at the 2016 CinemaCon.
On World Emoji Day on June 17, 2016, Miller was announced as the lead. Leondis created the part with Miller in mind, although the actor was initially hesitant to play the role, only accepting after Leondis briefed him on the story. Leondis chose Miller because "when you think of irrepressible, you think of TJ. But he also has this surprising ability to break your heart". In addition Miller also contributed some re-writes. In October 2016, it was announced that Ilana Glazer and Corden would join the cast as well. Glazer was later replaced by Anna Faris.
Singer Ricky Reed recorded the song "Good Vibrations" for the film.
The Emoji Movie has grossed $86.1 million in the United States and Canada and $130.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $217 million, against a production budget of $50 million.
The Emoji Movie was released alongside Atomic Blonde, and was projected to gross around $20 million from 4,075 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $900,000 from Thursday night previews and $10.1 million on its first day. It went on to debut to $24.5 million, finishing second at the box office behind Dunkirk.
Review embargoes for the film were lifted midday July 27, only a few hours before the film premiered to the general public, in a move considered among one of several tactics studios are using to try to curb bad Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Speaking of the effect embargoing reviews until last minute had on the film's debut, Josh Greenstein, Sony Pictures president of worldwide marketing and distribution, said, "The Emoji Movie was built for people under 18 ... so we wanted to give the movie its best chance. What other wide release with a score under 8 percent has opened north of $20 million? I don't think there is one." In the film's second weekend it dropped nearly 50%, grossing $12.4 million and finishing in 3rd.
The Emoji Movie suffered from many negative dislikes, haters panned The Emoji Movie, calling it "unfunny and a waste of time". On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 8% based on 108 reviews, with an average rating of 2.7/10. The site's critical consensus displays a no symbol emoji ("🚫") in place of text. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 12 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a D, writing: "Make no mistake, The Emoji Movie is very, very, very ugly (we're talking about a hyperactive piece of corporate propaganda in which Spotify saves the world and Sir Patrick Stewart voices a living turd), but real life is just too hard to compete with right now." Alonso Duralde of TheWrap was also critical of the film, calling it "a soul-crushing disaster because it lacks humor, wit, ideas, visual style, compelling performances, a point of view or any other distinguishing characteristic that would make it anything but a complete waste of your time".
Glen Kenny of The New York Times described the film as "nakedly idiotic", stating that the film plays off a Hollywood idea that the "panderingly, trendily idiotic can be made to seem less so". Owen Gleiberman of Variety lambasted the film as "hectic situational overkill" and "lazy" while viciously criticizing the film, writing: "There have been worse ideas, but in this case the execution isn't good enough to bring the notion of an emoji movie to funky, surprising life."Writing in The Guardian, Charles Bramesco called the film "insidious evil" and wrote that it was little more than an exercise in advertising smartphone downloads to children.
In November 2015, Sony scheduled the film to be released on August 11, 2017. A year later, it was moved to August 4, 2017, with Baby Driver initially taking its previous date. In late March 2017, the film was moved one week earlier, to July 28, 2017, switching places with Sony Pictures' The Dark Tower.
On December 20, 2016, a teaser trailer for the film was released. A second trailer was later released on May 16, 2017. Sony promoted the release of the latter trailer by hosting a press conference in Cannes, the day before the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, which featured T. J. Miller parasailing in. Variety called the event "slightly awkward", and The Hollywood Reporter described it as "promotional ridiculousness".
The Emoji Movie was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 24, 2017, by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
- T. J. Miller and Maya Rudolph previously co-starred in the 2014 Disney Big Hero 6.
- The mask emoji in the end of the movie bears an uncanny resemblance to Aku From "Samurai Jack"
- T.J Miller and Anna Faris co-starred in the 2010 live-action film, Yogi Bear.
- This is Anna Faris' 3rd Sony Pictures Animation film after Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.
- The fifth Sony Pictures Animation film to be produced in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, after Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Goosebumps.
- YouTuber Jacksfilms was said to be "the biggest fan of the Emoji Movie" and was invited to the world premier. He was doing it as a sort of meme, and he was recognized by Sony.
- This is the first animated film to win Worst Picture at the Golden Raspberry Awards. It also won Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Screen Combo.