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T.J. Miller, James Corden Tout ‘The Emoji Movie’s’ ‘Feminist Agenda’

Though there’s no company more exclusive than the “frequently used” section of emojis on a smartphone, the stars gathered on the blue carpet for the world premiere of “The Emoji Movie” on Sunday afternoon gave them a run for their money.

T.J. Miller, who voices Gene, a “meh” emoji, was decked out in a yellow suit covered in emojis to channel his character. He was joined by co-stars James CordenMaya Rudolph, Anna Faris, Christina Aguilera, Sir Patrick Stewart, and Jake T. Austin at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles.

All emojis in the digital city of Textopolis only have one facial expression, except for Gene, who has multiple emotions. Miller boasted the animated film’s progressive message. His character sets out with his friends on an adventure through smartphone apps to help him fit in with his singularly emotional peers.

“It’s got a feminist agenda, but not in a preachy way,” he told Variety. “Men should be expressive, women should be able to be feminine and girly while at the same time being assertive and strong protagonists.”

Though Miller is known for his role on HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” he’s worked in animation with the “How to Train Your Dragon” films. He said he likes to balance out his R-rated comedy work, adding he appreciates the layers of comedy in “Emoji.”

“Children don’t deserve to laugh as much as adults because they’re not aware of their own mortality,” he joked. “But I think we care a lot about influencing or aiding the moral compass of coming generations.”

According to director Tony Leondis, the central question of the movie asks, “Do I have to change who I am for the world to accept me, or can I change the world for the better because of who I am?”

“We all have a place in the world. Especially in a really scary time right now,” he told Variety. “Everyone, no matter who you are, how different you are, you have a place.”

Corden, who voices Hi-5, a hand emoji, said he found the themes of the film charming.

“I thought the message of the film was quite beautiful, that you don’t want to be like everyone else. It can feel like that when you’re young,” Corden said. “Actually, what you want to do is be unique. You want to be completely unique because the differences are the things that are going to make you great.”

Before the screening, audience members — primarily children and their parents — were treated to an emoji-themed party with carnival food, games, and giveaways.

The Emoji Movie” opens nationwide on Friday.

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