The Movie Diary
August 9, 2017

An emotional state

By Dom Cioffi

I was giving my son and his buddy a ride to grab lunch the other day and happened to mention that school was just around the corner.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” my son responded indignantly.

“It means that summer’s over in two weeks,” I replied.

“You’re lying!” he countered with an assured chuckle.

“No, he’s right,” his friend said.

From that moment forward, it looked as if my son caught instant food poisoning. He slouched in the seat, whimpered like a baby, and gave off an air of total devastation.

“How did this happen?” he asked repeatedly. “Summer just started and now you’re telling me it’s practically over!”

I tried to console him in between personal bouts of laughter. Even his buddy tried to cheer him up, insisting that eighth grade would be awesome because they would now be the kings of the middle school.

“You can’t say ‘awesome’ and ‘school’ in the same sentence!” he screamed.

I must admit, I didn’t look forward to summer’s ending either and vividly remember the feeling when I realized my vacation days were drawing to a close—that deep, dull ache that ensued as your freedom slipped away.

I can identify with a lot of my son’s issues with summer vacation ending so I try to give him leeway when he complains. My wife, on the other hand, says she got bored during summer break and insists she reveled in the school year starting (at which point, my son and I both roll our eyes).

I’ve tried to explain to my son that you can’t get out of going to school. Everyone has to do it, so you might as well embrace it. If you fight against the reality, you just make it harder than it has to be. The key is to figure how to make school work for you.

I distinctly remember one time in junior high when I was taking an essay test and feeling completely lost. Whatever the subject was on, I either hadn’t studied enough or I hadn’t studied at all.

I decided to riff my answer and went on a verbose writing spree to fill up the allotted space. I’m not sure what I wrote, but it must have been presented in a compelling enough fashion that I got a fairly good grade upon the test’s return.

This fact stunned me, and also taught me that I had a knack for bluffing my way around an essay test. From that day forward, if I only knew a little about a particular subject, I could easily convince the teacher that I had a better grasp just by relentlessly droning on. This approach didn’t always work, but it worked well enough to get me by if I was in crisis mode.

Eventually, my skill with writing moved me through college and into the media business where I ultimately ended up the editor of a newspaper (coincidentally, the one you’re reading).

While an editor, I learned to truly love the written word. I reveled in reading well-written articles to see how other writers approached the art form. And I learned to look at horribly written copy as a challenge to re-craft ideas.

Ultimately, being an editor made me a much better writer. However, it did not come without a cost.

One hardship that all editors must endure after years of studying and reworking copy, is the persistent inability to stop mentally editing everything you read. Many times, while reading an article or book, I find myself analyzing sentence structure or tone of voice instead of reading for comprehension and joy.

Furthermore, the dawn of the internet made every editor on earth wince, since it allowed anyone with a computer to fancy themselves a writer, subjecting us to copious amounts of poorly written copy.

And let’s not forget about texting! Never has there been a forum that has beaten the written word so ridiculously into submission. But unlike everyone else who takes liberties with the English language, I’m cursed to edit every word I text so my meaning is clearly and correctly conveyed (and, yes, this affliction makes me a ridiculously slow texter).

So, with that said, you can imagine how I feel about emojis, not to mention a film based on emojis!

My son begged me to go so I agreed, but I was quite sure any film revolving around emotional icons would be a complete waste of my time. And I was right.

“The Emoji Movie” is pure gimmick: a cash-grab by Hollywood producers who prey upon the public’s fascination with pop culture.It’s hard to believe this is the same production company that gave us Toy Story or Up.

This is the antithesis of what Pixar delivers to audiences and should be avoided at all costs. Maybe you could use it for a two-hour distraction for pre-teen kids, but they’d still be better served playing outside.

A delete-able “D-” for “The Emoji Movie.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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