The Emoji Movie

Movie review by
Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media
The Emoji Movie Movie Poster Image
Positive messages, but colorful adventure is mostly "meh."
  • PG
  • 2017
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 110 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 348 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids may learn some new emojis and app names and functions, but the film is primarily intended to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Diversity is better than conformity. Nobody should have to be or do just one thing; learning to express yourself in many different ways -- from emotions to dancing -- is healthy. Friends should always help each other, and teamwork pays off. Telling people how you feel can be difficult, but it's important to be honest. It's rewarding to find your purpose.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gene starts out desperate to fit in and do what he's "supposed" to do, but he learns that his ability to be many things is what makes him special -- and he can be useful by being himself. Jailbreak is smart and resourceful. She rejects the role she was given but learns that having supportive friends is better than being alone. Gene's parents love him, but at first they're also a bit embarrassed by him and his differences. They learn to love him -- and themselves -- unconditionally. Many emoji characters are, by their nature, one-dimensional, but the human teenagers are a diverse group. Princess stereotypes are mocked/dismissed; a character calls out the fact that the original emoji set offered women only two choices: princess or bride.

Violence & Scariness

Characters in danger/peril; at one point it looks like they all might be deleted. The bots that chase Gene and his friends can be scary; they're relentless and have laser weapons. They sometimes delete the things they catch or want to punish (a virus, a whole app, etc.). A giant bot is particularly aggressive and intimidating. Gene's mistake leads to panic and destruction of the emoji grid. Jailbreak imagines Gene exploding. Smiler uses dental tools in a way that feels creepy and threatening. A firewall is made of actual flames. Gene is zapped when he makes password errors.

Sexy Stuff

Flirting/romantic tension between emoji characters and human ones. Mel and Mary Meh declare their love for each other and kiss. Hi-5's knuckles briefly look like bare buttocks. Somewhat skimpy outfits on the main character in Just Dance.


One purposely cut-off "oh, s--t" and one unfinished "holy s--t," plus relatively infrequent use of "loser," "shut up," "stupid," "weirdo," "freak," "dumb," "butt," "poop," "turd," "no. 2," "doody." A character calls another a "malfunction."


Many real-world apps are prominently highlighted, discussed extensively, used, and seen, including Dropbox, Spotify, Just Dance, YouTube, Facebook, Candy Crush, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink a fruity party drink. There's a beer emoji. A scene takes place at a dive bar; a broken beer bottle is seen, and "Hack Daniels" is mentioned. Hi-5 gets a sugar high.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Emoji Movie is a colorful and kid-friendly -- if not particularly original -- adventure that imagines a world inside our smartphones in which each emoji is supposed to have a single expression/role. So when "meh" face Gene (voiced by T.J. Miller) breaks those expectations, chaos ensues. Expect to see some destruction, suspense, and peril; the main characters are pursued by intimidating bots bent on deleting them with their laserlike weapons. But it never gets too intense for young elementary schoolers. There's a bit of flirting, and two emoji characters kiss; there are also scenes that take place in a dive bar, where drinking is implied (and there's a beer emoji character). Language is fairly mild but includes a purposely cut-off "oh, s--t," as well as insults like "loser," "shut up," and so on. Jokes about the poop emoji involve (surprise!) potty humor. Many real-life apps are featured prominently, including Dropbox, YouTube, and Just Dance. The story emphasizes the importance of being true to yourself, as well as the value of honesty and teamwork.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBenicio R. August 5, 2017
Adult Written byHunter M. August 4, 2017

Don't waste your money.

I have absolutely no idea what Sony was thinking when they made this. They cancelled the Popeye Movie for this and they spent 50 million on, THIS??? Thousands a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMande3 July 27, 2017

Do not watch this crap!

I think the Sony Pictures Entertainment people are running out of ideas, I watched the video and it gave me "so nauseous" nightmares. If you love emo... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bywhat24 July 28, 2017


A terrible, cringey cash grab that doesn't bode well for the future of the movie industry. Don't give this movie your money if you want to see any goo... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE EMOJI MOVIE invites viewers into the world of Textopolis, a colorful city inside the phone of a teenager named Alex (voiced by Jake T. Austin). Populated entirely by emojis, Textopolis is a town in which everyone has a single role/expression, and their job is to perform that role flawlessly when Alex needs to send a text. Chaos ensues when eager young "meh" face Gene (T.J. Miller) freaks out on his first day at work and exhibits many different expressions, leading Alex to think something might be wrong with his phone. Head emoji Smiler (Maya Rudolph) is determined to keep Textopolis perfect -- and protected -- so she labels Gene a malfunction. His only hope is to track down a hacker by the name of Jailbreak (Anna Faris) to see whether he can be reprogrammed to correctly fulfill his "meh" destiny. So with the help of new friend Hi-5 (James Corden), Gene leaves Textopolis and ventures into the other apps on Alex's phone. But does Gene really need to be "fixed"?

Is it any good?

It's pretty risky to center a movie around the concept of "meh," which basically means "unimpressive," if you're not going to knock it out of the park -- and this one unfortunately doesn't. The Emoji Movie isn't bad, but it isn't great, either. It's "meh." Kids will definitely enjoy the colorful characters, easy-to-follow story, and potty humor ("we're number two!" the poop emoji and his son exclaim). Young viewers are also sure to catch the movie's positive messages about teamwork, friendship, and being yourself. Plus, the voice cast is pretty good. Rudolph is gleefully manic as Smiler, and there are some standouts in the supporting cast. No one is better at doing a "meh" voice than Steven Wright (as Gene's dad, Mel Meh), and Jennifer Coolidge matches him as Mel's monotone wife, Mary. And did we mention that the aforementioned poop emoji is voiced by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart?

But most audience members old enough to actually own phones will probably realize that much of The Emoji Movie's plot is predictable (it feels like a mashup of Inside Out and Wreck-It Ralph, with a dash of The Wizard of Oz) and its humor only so-so. Don't be alarmed if your mind wanders and you start asking yourself questions like: "How many kids have even heard of Dropbox?" and "Why do Gene and his parents get 'people' names, while Smiler and Hi-5 just have emoji names?" and "Would a real teenager really call someone to make a tech appointment at the phone store?" If you need something else to think about, try to figure out how you'd describe the movie's plot using just emojis. Just don't pull out your phone in the theater!

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Emoji Movie's themes and messages. What does it mean when characters say, "What good is it to be number one if there aren't any other numbers"? How do the characters learn the value of teamwork?

  • How does the movie portray texting and phone use among teens? Does it seem realistic? Kids: Did seeing the movie make you want to get a phone? What are your family's rules about devices?

  • At one point, a character says of someone that "none of these people know him, but they 'like' him -- and that's what matters in this life, popularity." Do you think it's true that, in the age of social media, people want fans more than friends?

  • Which parts of the movie were scary to you? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • Kids: Do you like communicating using emojis? Why or why not? Do you know what they all mean?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to laugh

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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