So... how about The Emoji Movie huh? That sure was a movie. Oh god that was a movie, can you believe how much of a movie that movie was? It was totally a movie that just... kill me.
So I've talked before about the concept of bad movies and how the thing that makes a bad movie watchable is a sense of passion. You can read all about those thoughts in my totally cool article about good bad movies. This movie is not one of those, it's a bad bad movie with a bad bad plot by bad bad writers with a bad bad concept. While a lot has been said about how bad this movie is, what's never mentioned is that the idea of a film about Emoji's isn't exactly awful. It could work, it could absolutely work, it just needs to be altered a little.
Since I had to suffer through an hour and a half of The Emoji Movie, here is my pitch for a version that would be infinitely better than the one we got. Granted, that's not saying much, but still.
Make It R Rated
I'm aware that this movie was made for kids and turning it into an adult centered film would eliminate a movie from the family animated blockbusters you can take your children to see. It would just leave you with Cars 3, Captain Underpants and Despicable Me 3 which were all objectively better than The Emoji Movie was. The reality is, there are plenty of animated films out that kids could've gone to around the time of The Emoji Movie, and there's a ton more coming out at the end of the year. What this film needed the freedom that being an R rated movie would provide it in order to turn it's basic materials into something great.
Remember Sausage Party? Arguably the best adult animated film of the last decade? That film proved that adults will gladly go see a good funny animated movie all by themselves if you give them something fun to enjoy. It showed that you can take something simple and childish and make it fun and adult, while also having a good message in there. Since Sausage Party is, in the end, all about the power of religion and how it keeps us apart based on what groups we identify with. It had a lot more going for it hidden behind all the sex jokes and swearing
That film was a box office hit. It had a budget of $19 million dollars and made $140 million worldwide. That's only $30 million less than The Emoji Movie and considering that it also cost about $30 million less than The Emoji Movie, that's the same amount of profit but with a better overall film that has a chance to have a deeper meaning. All we need is a better lead character.
Revolve The Entire Movie Around The Poop Emoji
If you go to see The Emoji Movie you'll most likely agree that the only character that can raise a chuckle is Poop. Patrick Stewart is a gem of an actor who is clearly having fun getting to say that he's playing Poop, so let's focus the film on him. Why? Because in this fixed up version of The Emoji Movie, Poop emoji is tired of being Number Two. He's always Number Two when compared to Smile emoji and just once want's everyone to think of him as more than just a Number Two. Not only do you get the obvious poo joke, you would get a little heartfelt message about always being second fiddle that a lot of these kinds of movies play on.
It's certainly an improvement on the current lead character, Meh. In the real movie, Meh is 'malfunctioning' and showing more than one emotion, which he does right from the beginning and there is no real character motivation behind his actions. He screws up because everyone, for some reason, believes that this guy who is clearly not 'meh' can somehow be 'meh' on command, even though they know what will happen if he screws up. It means the focus of the movie isn't on some personal struggle or some major character development moment... it's on "He screwed up, now we're all screwed" which isn't as interesting. The plot in general could be a lot more interesting, or at least not something that was done very recently by a much better film.
Make It A Road Trip Movie
You know what one of the films are that The Emoji Movie borrows heavily from? As in, literally steals the entire plot structure from... it's this one:
For all intents and purposes, The Emoji Movie is a less interesting version of Inside Out. It's the same idea of two main characters getting into a jam that one of them causes due to a mistake, trying to find their way to somewhere that can fix their problem, going through rooms with strange effects, learning to work together, getting split up right before they're home free, meeting a mysterious third character with a past that connects to both our leads, one of them is determined to get something fixed while the other is kind of just along for the ride. It's all there. Even Bing Bong's final scene is basically lifted completely and put in Emoji Movie, except Inside Out had the balls to actually go all the way with what they did to Bing Bong and Emoji Movie chickens out of it right at the last second.
Instead of doing all that, What is they had Poop emoji going on a road trip through the phone in order to try and find a place where he will be number one. That's a storyline that Pixar really hasn't tackled yet so the comparisons to better movies wouldn't be so recent. Also, because all road trip movies need a sidekick, I have the perfect character to be Poops sidekick.
Get An Eggplant Ready
If you look on the right of this image you will see that, yes, The Emoji Movie has the Eggplant emoji. He is barely in the actual film and they don't even use him to try and hide a innuendo joke. Literally the only thing they had to do with him was arrange him so it kinda looked like he was hiding a penis and they couldn't even do that.
In my hypothetical fixed version of the film he's a central character because if we're going to make a lot of poop jokes with the Poop emoji, we need to make a lot of dick jokes with the eggplant emoji. He joins Poop on his road trip through the phone because he always thought Poop was number one and want's to show him that. This creates a different dynamic to what The Emoji Movie offers. In the actual film the main two characters are both going away to get something fixed that really didn't need fixing. In the fixed up version, it would be an inner struggle for self acceptance... that's way more interesting, and it opens the door to giving better motivations to other characters.
Smiler Is Still The Villain... Just More Sociopathic
In The Emoji Movie, the antagonist is Smiler. She basically want's to delete Meh because Meh can't just be Meh and that's meant to be an intimidating antagonist but really... it's her job. Her job is to make sure everything runs properly and if it doesn't, she has to do something about it. Yes, deletion is a bit extreme but in this world everyone works or they don't get to be in Textopolis so if you can't do your job there, it stands to reason that you would have to go. The only reason she's even an 'antagonist' is that instead of just firing Meh, she want's him to be deleted, but even that's kinda understandable since Meh's mistake means the phones going to be wiped and everyone dies.
Wouldn't it be scarier if instead of wanting to delete the main character because they weren't doing their job right, she wanted to delete them because she worried they would take her spot as the most popular emoji? Instead of just being the antagonist, make her the outright villain. In the hypothetical fixed movie that we're building, Smiler actively wants Poop dead because he's threatening her position as the favorite emoji. So, she decides to send her minions after him while he's off finding himself so that he'll never come back and she'll remain the favorite emoji. When someone questions her about this, let's say Pizza emoji, she eats them like she was Pennywise and they were a child's arm. This will make her more intensely evil, raise the stakes and give us a chance for some quality insane villainy that The Emoji Movie was clearly trying to do but just couldn't go all the way. Again, going back to Sausage Party, the villain was a literal douche bag who sucked the juice out of child-sized grocery items and it made him an intimidating force that had to be dealt with.
Funny Sidekick Trio: Devil, Middle Finger, Vomit
So if you looked at the posters for individual emoji's that were released in anticipation for this movie, you saw that The Devil was one of them. The Devil barely appears in this film, he's got maybe two lines. Same with most of the emoji's in this film, we only really focus on Meh, Hi-Five and the Hacker Girl. There's a few scenes with Smiler and Meh's parent's but other than that we have no real sidekicks, no variations in characters. With hundreds of emoji's, at most they use six of them for the main plot and give the rest of them no real arc to work with. To be even more realistic, they give three characters the main plot, one is an unappealing villain and then there's Meh's parent's and... that's it.
In this more interesting fixed up version, Devil, Middle Finger and Vomit team up to go find their friends Eggplant and Poop. This allows a proper B story to form, have the three of them be as overly cartoonish as possible and will create more characters for people to latch onto because, in the actual film, you have three characters to like and none of them are interesting. You know what else isn't interesting about this movie? App's
Use Apps Better
So if you saw the trailer you'll be aware that Candy Crush is an element in this movie. It's not at all relevant to the plot, it's a obstacle that's thrust onto the main characters for the purpose of a cheap tie in. Same with the Dance Dance revolution scene or the Youtube scene. The only app they use that's in some way plot relevant is Dropbox, which is just the end goal for most of the movie and barely has any screen time. Other apps are shown in some scenes from above to give a sense of scope, but if you removed every single named app from this film you would lose nothing of substance.
If they were to fix it like I've been suggesting, we would see things like The Devil, Vomit and Middle Finger emoji get upset because they can't find their friends, so they enlist the help of someone that Eggplant knows well. They get the Grindr app going and use that to guide them. This means they can bring in the concept of Apps in a way that actually matters to the plot, pushes the narrative forwards and allows for a few jokes to be made using the app. It might not be the best use of apps, but at least it's an interesting use of them that's plot relevant instead of what The Emoji Movie does.
Moral Of The Story
So in The Emoji Movie the moral ends up being "Just be yourself" which is a fine moral... except the problem is that being himself made Meh almost destroy the entire city of Textopolis which almost kills everyone. He doesn't grow at all, he saves the day by embracing the very thing that he was doing at the start and that's just not a good moral, nor is it a fulfilling story. You know how everyone still get's upset when watching Wizard of Oz and learns that Dorothy could've tapped her heels the whole time? It's that, only much stupider because at least Dorothy grew as a person during that movie. This lack of growth that runs throughout the movie turns the moral into "Just be yourself, even when being yourself means literally murdering everyone you ever loved" which is not as good a moral than I think they intended.
In my fixed version, after Poop comes back to the town of Textopolis he learns that his friends think he's the best and he's OK with that, making the moral "You might not be number one to everyone, but you're number one to someone" which is a more interesting moral that relies on character growth, something sorely lacking in the actual film. It's basically the same moral that was sung in the genuinely beautiful song "If Just One Person" from the Snoopy musical. That's something that people should learn, that you don't need to be liked by everyone because as long as the right people like you, that's enough, and if enough people like you that maybe even you can believe in you too.
The Emoji Movie, as it is, lacks fundamental character growth, misuses the potentially interesting concepts that it's been gifted, wastes background characters and reuses stories that were told very recently by much better films. What needed to be done to make this work was to scrap what they made for kids (Who deserve better movies!) and instead make something that was actually good. If I can come up with a better idea on the car ride home from seeing your movie, which is how I came up with most of this fix, then there is a huge problem with your movie that you need to address properly.
Is there any bad movie out there that you think you could fix? How would you fix a particularly bad movie? Let me know in the comments.