Movie Reviews

‘Unicorn Store’ // Film Review

Brie Larson stars and directs what it's like to relive your childhood in the latest movie from Netflix: Unicorn Store

Those who think it’s cool to hate on Brie Larson with the mega success that Captain Marvel has become at the box office and the popularity of her celebrity status at the moment will automatically not care for her latest Netflix movie Unicorn Store, which also happens to be her directorial debut. And if you’re fond of those quirky comedies with a good-hearted character, you might like this.

Larson plays Kit, a whimsical and creative woman who left art school. Knowing that she can’t be an artist, Kit moves back with her parents (Bradley Whitford and Joan Cusack) and becomes a temp at an agency in hopes to be more of an adult. But she’s been receiving these colorful letters from a salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) to come to “The Store”. Once she arrives there, Kit is given the opportunity to have a shop to sell anything that comes to mind, where she has the chance to own her own, real unicorn.

Hearing the Larson was gonna be directing her own movie, back in 2016, sounded excited. But I didn’t even enough if it was still coming out after it premiered at 2017’s Toronto International Film Festival and Netflix decided to pick up the rights to be earlier this year.┬áNow that it’s finally out on the streaming service, Unicorn Store isn’t perfect, but at least it didn’t make me bored while watching it.

I always like the idea of actors turning to direct because I always want to be if they are capable of filming behind-the-camera, and Larson does a fairly good job with her first film behind the camera. There wasn’t any particular scene that was memorable, but it’s surprisingly well-shot for what looked like a small-budget indie dramedy. She clearly shows certain skills for a career for directing, hopefully, in the near future.

Larson really has a lot of charm and naive to her character. You can see that Kit has a ton of creativity to her mind, but it’s that fear that nobody is willing to appreciate what she can put out. Is it clear that she wants to be a disappointment to everybody? I did start to feel for Kit, though it wasn’t clear if it’s all a fantasy or not. Some might label her character as the so-called “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”, and there really isn’t anything wrong with that, in my opinion.

A beatific Kit (Larson) in Unicorn Store.

Aside from her, I’d say the other performances were equally good. Jackson doesn’t have a ton of screentime with his character basically mysterious, but he shows some charisma when he needs to. Cusack and Whitford play the type of parents that you would feel embarrassed by, but you’d love them either way. And then there’s Mamoudou Athie (The Get Down) as Virgil, a hardware store employee who helps Kit out to accomplish her goal. Both of them had some terrific chemistry that I personally bought into.

When it’s funny, it’s able to be funny. The humor is mostly dry-wit, which came close to being on the level of Brigsby Bear‘s kind of humor and that worked in shades.

Samantha McIntyre wrote the screenplay, and while I was watching, I can tell that there wasn’t a ton of meat to the story. That can be considered the main problem with Unicorn Store; there isn’t much of a huge plot found anywhere for its 92 minutes, along with its tone sometimes, but you can almost ignore it once it goes deep into what the meaning is. Maybe I just expected more from it after waiting three years for this.

This does a clear message that’s understandable for anybody out there. You either feel like somebody who wants to feel free and do whatever, or you feel like that smart kid in school that always studies that doesn’t like the other students are having fun. Nobody wants to be the stick in the mud, even at a full-time job. But even when we grow up, we all have some sense of wonder inside all of us. Nothing in here will be life-changing, but it does offer a solid enough message about creativity, growing up, never giving up on your dreams and believing in the weird.

Brie Larson in Unicorn Store (2017)

While Unicorn Store might fall short to its story, it ultimately makes up for having a lot of heart and not taking anything too serious. Would I recommend this to my fellow peers? If they don’t mind an easy and harmless watch and just think about the things that made your childhood great. Even if this wasn’t the best original movie to come from Netflix, there’s more coming in the latter year to enjoy.

Grade: B-

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