“The Emoji Movie” is one of those once-in-a-lifetime bad ideas that will probably go on to define this generation of moviemaking.
It’s a shallow, cynical attempt to cash on things that young people are familiar with, but that have absolutely no lasting value to society. A plot that centers around DropBox might feel topical today, but it ensures that the movie will make no sense to someone watching this in twenty years.
But, hey, Sony Pictures isn’t really into long-term planning. They’re not Disney, so they’re pretty convinced that nobody will be watching their animated internet movie in a couple of decades’ time.
It’s weird, then, that “Wreck-it-Ralph 2” seems to be aiming for the exact same topical internet meme-inspired plot.
The title of the movie itself, “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, already feels somewhat dated. It’s been several years since Kim Kardashian posed naked for a dumb photo, but still, this movie seems to expect us to take this as an enduring icon of popular culture.
The film will apparently see Ralph disappear into the online world for what will probably be the same kind of Easter Egg-filled adventure he had the first time, except with Snapchat in place of Sonic the Hedgehog.
This kind of thing worked perfectly for retro video games because the source material has already become engrained in the public consciousness – “Wreck-it-Ralph” is timeless because “Donkey Kong” is already a proven enduring gaming icon.
WhatsApp is less substantial, and it’s hard to imagine people of the future looking back at the messaging app with the same fondness that we hold for, say, “Street Fighter” at present.
In essence, there’s a very real danger that “Ralph Breaks the Internet” will duplicate the failure of “The Emoji Movie”, creating something that’s shallow and pointless, relying on meme recognition instead of genuinely inventive storytelling.
We have to hope that this film doesn’t turn out as bad as it looks – after all, the first “Wreck-it-Ralph” had a surprising amount of heart for a movie following the tired “What if Video Games Were Real?” plot.
That said, the similarities between “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and “The Emoji Movie” are hard to ignore. This could end up being a mistake that Disney regrets for a long time to come.