Take, for instance, this review from The Guardian, which reads: "A viewer leaves The Emoji Movie a colder person, not only angry at the film for being unconscionably bad, but resentful of it for making them feel angry." The man who wrote that sentence is not OK. He is going to need all the support he can get from his loved ones, and perhaps his favorite childhood toy to get him through the night.
Jordan Hoffman of The New York Daily News concluded his review with: "Sadly market saturation will prevent this from being the [bomb emoji] it ought to be -- so get ready for "The Fidget Spinner Movie" or some other [poop emoji]." If that doesn't sound like a man who's completely lost his faith in the American public, I don't know what does. His use of emojis throughout the article are as much a sign of Stockholm's syndrome as they are a sign he wanted to finish the review as quickly as possible and move on with his life.
In fact, I believe that's how most of the critics felt when reviewing this movie. No one was sitting down to write a scathing, angry rant -- they all just sound so, so tired. The AP, Common Sense Media, and The LA Times, all used the word "meh" in their reviews. These people work for some of the largest media companies in the world. They can think of a word other than "meh," but spending the time to do that means spending 30 more goddamn seconds thinking about The Emoji Movie, and they are not going to let that happen to them.
There are a few critics out there with at least a little bit of fight left in them. Brian Orndorf of Blu-ray.com managed: "A soulless endeavor and a painful viewing experience. Your kids deserve better." These are the brave soldiers of The Emoji Movie; those who made it out the other end, mostly intact and able to write a full review instead of just an elongated sigh.
I think part of the reason this one was so tough for critics was that the collective groan the world let out when The Emoji Movie was announced turned around at some point to a hopeful feeling. No one was especially hyped for The Lego Movie at first, and it turned out to be great. The casting decisions sounded good. If Patrick Stewart and T.J. Miller signed on to it, it must at least be OK, right? Seeing the actual movie was like a having a cold bucket of water dumped over their birthday cake in lieu of blowing out the candles. Now they can't unsee what they have seen, and they are mentally scarred. Wherever you are today, pour one out for your local movie critics. If you see one in the street, tell them you appreciate them. Maybe give them a hug if they'll let you. But as you gaze into their broken, hollow eyes, feel not pity but fear. If you see this movie, a similar fate may await.