It’s not easy being meh.

Gene (T.J. Miller) is meh. He’s not feeling unenthusiastic, he actually is meh. He’s an emoji, and along with his many, many co-workers he’s the epitome of the term “you had one job”.

But Gene has a problem. He isn’t just meh, he runs the gamut of all manner of emotions. This issue comes to a disembodied round yellow head when he’s called up for active duty in his master’s smartphone one day, and promptly fluffs everything. This causes mass hysteria in emoji central – otherwise known as Textopolis.

Textopolis is ruled by Smiler (Maya Rudolph), a perennially smirking yellow disc with a sinister side. She just can’t have emojis not doing things right, and sets about cleaning the Gene mess up by whatever means necessary.

The Emoji Movie

Meanwhile, a distraught Gene engages his pal Hi-5 (James Corden – whose popularity has recently been usurped by Fist Bump, much to his chagrin) to help him search his home smartphone to find a way to fix himself. To this end they track down the mysterious hacker Jailbreak (Anna Faris).

Will order be restored to Textopolis? Meh.

People had doubts that LEGO could be turned into anything more than a cynical marketing exercise of a film, but The LEGO Movie surprised everybody with its fun, humour and heart. The Emoji Movie, however, IS a cynical marketing exercise. Play Candy Crush, play Just Dance Now, use Twitter, use Dropbox, use Instagram…

There’s the odd fun visual gag, and two brilliant casting moves in Rudolph’s majestically menacing take on Smiler and Steven Wright – the living epitome of ‘meh’ – as the voice of Gene’s father, Mel Meh. Kudos, too, to Sir Patrick Stewart for having fun getting down and dirty as the poop emoji. Hopefully the pay cheque helps him collect heaps more whale snot.

Ultimately, The Emoji Movie takes liberal chunks of Inside Out, The LEGO Movie and Wreck-It Ralph, smushes them together, then dumbs them down to a monosyllabic, disinterested grunt.

In cinemas: September 14, 2017 
Starring: The voices of TJ Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris
Directed by: Tony Leondis