Enduring Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is a feat in and of itself. A two hour long crossover of Project X and Saving Private Ryan with a set that looks like it was designed by Maggie Beer, mother! is a trainwreck from start to finish. mother! possesses the ambition of David Lynch, the subtlety of Quentin Tarantino, the pomposity of Terence Malik, and the intelligence of Michael Bay.
Jennifer Lawrence plays the titular mother, an exasperated housewife who longs for nothing more than a simple existence of doing nothing but fulfilling her husband’s every want and need. Her husband Him (Javier Bardem) is a poet working on his magnum opus that may or may not be laughable allegory for God and the New Testament. Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris play Woman and Man respectively, a reference to Adam and Eve made all the more obvious by their feuding sons (Cain and Abel).
Him is an egotistical God, incapable of resisting praise no matter how much destruction his adoring fans cause. Mother is Mother Earth, who spends the film cleaning up the chaos caused by their guests. The rest of the cast are humanity who (you guessed it) ruin everything. The message is ham-fisted: God sucks, Christianity is a weird cult, we’re ungrateful shits to Mother Earth, and Aronofsky is the wokest person in Hollywood.
As mother! drew to a close and the lights came back on, the cinema was filled with the sound of laughter. Sitting through mother! is what I imagine watching a student production of The Exorcist would be like — long, unpleasant, and unintentionally funny. Aronofsky may not have intended his work to be a comedy, but his biblical eco-tale comes off less like Scream and more like Scary Movie.
Concurrent with mother! in national cinemas is another film doing the exact opposite of Aronofsky’s Intro To Screenwriting major project. If mother! is comedy film masquerading as a horror film, then The Emoji Movie is a horror film masquerading as a comedy.
The Emoji Movie follows a very, very basic formula: outsider Gene (a “meh” emoji voiced by T.J. Miller, a man whom I will never find myself attracted to again) must go on a journey to change himself only to find that what he needed was to simply be himself all along! Absolutely groundbreaking. On the surface, The Emoji Movie is an excruciatingly bland film — worse than other Sony trainwrecks of the past few years (barely scraping past the Angry Birds movie).
However, the overall message that The Emoji Movie sends to audiences is horrifying — it is a testament to the excess of American consumerism. Every app reference, from Instagram and Spotify, to Candy Crush, and Dropbox, is an assault on the senses: the film is an 86 minute long commercial that has so far earned nearly $200 million worth of revenue in the international box office.
To say that The Emoji Movie is an abomination would be an understatement. Film has always been used to sell products: Michael Bay’s films are notorious for product placement, with his Transformers franchise being primarily focused on selling toys. However The Emoji Movie is almost unprecedented in its complete lack of effort; it seems to revel in the fact that it is essentially a very long, aggressively unfunny advertisement aimed at pre-teens with iPads.
The Emoji Movie succeeds in making audiences ill, whereas mother! fails to elicit anything more than a shrug and the occasional laugh. I’m half convinced mother! is actually an allegory for the English Extension Two major work submitted by the atheist kid who wears a suit to their first year philosophy classes.
The Emoji Movie, on the other hand, is a perfect example of hyper-consumerism in action. If we exist in a world where The Emoji Movie is not only financially viable but a wholesale success, then it is the most horrifying film I’ve ever seen. Kudos to you Sony, for scaring me in a way that mother! could not.