Gene is an emoji that lives in Textopolis, a city located in the phone of a boy named Alex. Despite being programmed as a meh emoji, Gene is able to make numerous expressions, which causes him to be outcasted by the other emojis. One day, when Alex receives a text from his crush Addie, he decides to send her an emoji and selects Gene, who panics, makes a confusing face, and inadvertently wrecks the text center. The incident causes the leader of the text center, Smiler, to label Gene a malfunction and order his deletion.
Gene escapes and meets Hi-5, a once popular emoji who has since lost his fame. Hi-5 suggests that the two seek help from a hacker emoji known as Jailbreak so that Gene's malfunction can be fixed and Hi-5 can reclaim his fame. The two sneak out of Textopolis, pursued by Smiler's bots, as well as Gene's parents, Mel and Mary. Gene and Hi-5 arrive at a piracy app and locate Jailbreak, who seeks to find the Dropbox and live in the cloud. The trio are attacked by bots, but manage to escape into the game Candy Crush, where they set off towards the cloud. Meanwhile, Mel and Mary have an argument, leading to them going their separate ways.
Gene, Hi-5 and Jailbreak arrive at the Just Dance app, where they meet Akiko Glitter and are forced to dance in order to continue forward. While there, Gene and Hi-5 learn that Jailbreak is actually a princess emoji named Linda, who had fled home due to being tired of being stereotyped. The bots arrive and attack them, and their actions prompt Alex to delete the Just Dance app. Gene and Jailbreak manage to get to safety, but Hi-5 is thrown into the dump with the rest of the app, forcing the two to go back and rescue him. Alex, confused at the phone's weird actions, schedules an appointment at the store to have his phone erased. This prompts a panicked Smiler to release an upgraded bot to recapture Gene.
Gene and Jailbreak rescue Hi-5 and continue their journey. Meanwhile, Mel and Mary reunite at the Instagram app, where Mel confesses that he, too, has the malfunction, explaining Gene's behavior. Meanwhile, Gene, Hi-5 and Jailbreak are attacked by the upgraded bot, but evade it and enter Dropbox. After getting past the firewall, they reach the cloud, where Jailbreak prepares to reprogram Gene. Gene confesses his feelings to Jailbreak, but she wishes to remain in the cloud, causing a heartbroken Gene to revert to his apathetic programming. He is then captured by the upgraded bot, causing Hi-5 and Jailbreak to race to Textopolis to save him.
At Textopolis, Smiler prepares to have Gene deleted, but his parents arrive and Mel reveals his malfunction as well, causing Smiler to demand he be deleted as well. However, Hi-5 and Jailbreak arrive and disable the bot, which crushes Smiler. However, Alex prepares to have his phone erased at the store. Desperate, Gene has Jailbreak text him to Addie, making numerous expressions in the process. Realizing Addie got a text from him, Alex stops his phone from being erased, restoring the apps and emojis.
Alex finally talks to and befriends Addie. In Textopolis, Gene is hailed a hero and learns to accept himself for who he is. Meanwhile, Smiler is stripped of power and cast into the "loser lounge" alongside the other unused emojis.
- T. J. Miller as Gene.
- James Corden as Hi-5.
- Anna Faris as Jailbreak.
- Maya Rudolph as Smiler.
- Steven Wright as Mel Meh.
- Jennifer Coolidge as Mary Meh.
- Patrick Stewart as Poop.
- Christina Aguilera as Akiko Glitter.
- Sofia Vergara as Flamenca.
- Rachael Ray as Spam.
- Sean Hayes as Steven.
- Jake T. Austin as Alex.
- Tati Gabrielle as Addie.