July 28, 2017 by T. Gregory Argall
It happens in stages, bit by bit, seemingly small steps that cover significant distance nonetheless. It’s all so incremental that, at first, we don’t notice we don’t notice that it’s happening at all. Then one day you wake up, look around, and think, “Is this where we’ve gone as a society? Is this what we’ve become?”
And then you weep for humanity.
Two days ago, a noticeable portion of the internet celebrated the 20 anniversary of the movie “Good Burger,” almost reveling in the bottom-scraping vapidness of it all. And today, quicker than you can say “Challenge accepted,” we have the release of “The Emoji Movie.”
I’m going to break one of my own rules today, but in this case I feel it’s justifiable.
You see, some things you just instinctively know to avoid because they are so blatantly, mind-numbingly, skull-punchingly stupid.
Practicing yoga in the middle lane of a busy highway?
STUPID. Avoid it.
Using an eyedropper to squirt ghost pepper hot sauce up your urethra?
STUPID. Avoid it.
A feature-length movie starring those little pictures people use on their phones because typing out actual words is so mentally exhausting?
STUPID. Avoid it.
Honestly, the fact that this movie exists breaks my heart and kicks me right in the intelligence. How does a project like this get past the post-pitch-meeting/coke-binge sober up period? At no point after it was green lit, did anyone with even an ounce of Hollywood influence stagger out of rehab and say, “Hey, whoa, wait minute, guys. That idea is too stupid even for us”?
Just so we’re clear, I don’t blame the writers for this. It’s not their fault. They just want to work. They’ve got bills to pay, just like anyone else. I totally understand taking a work-for-hire gig.
I blame whoever sat in an office, wasted on heroin-infused cheese blintzes and coffee flavoured whiskey, and decided to spin the Wheel Of WTF after everyone else had passed out or gone home and spend fifty million dollars on whatever it landed on.
The writers were just left to clean it all up and try to make sense of it afterwards.
And as commissioned writing jobs go, this one must’ve been a bitch and half. The walls of the writers room must be covered with forehead-shaped dents as these poor guys tried to figure out what to do with this ridiculous idea that some executive shat upon the world for no damned reason at all.
The first two guys on the project were the dude who wrote and directed the direct-to-video sequel to Lilo & Stitch, and a guy who wrote some single episodes of a few sitcoms you’ve never watched. They somehow managed to put a story together using only emojis as character. It’s possible the story was actually written entire in emojis, we don’t know. But then, in order to make this story into a semi-usable script they had to get help from the guy who wrote a bunch of Jack Black movies because, well, yeah, obviously he’s the guy you go to for that.
So, yeah, I don’t blame the writers. They’re just workaday dudes like the rest of us.
The problem is the people who willingly put up the fifty million dollars to make this movie. Fifty million dollars. For 86 minutes of “Hey, look, it’s an emoji.” That’s more than half a million dollars a minute.
But, maybe they’re right. Maybe is was a wise (ish) investment. Maybe the movie will turn out to be the box office smash hit blockbuster boffo big deal of the summer.
And that thought scares me most.
Try to be nice to each other.