Let’s set the record straight here. For those of you that think Brie Larson got this Netflix deal to direct and star in this movie, UNICORN STORE, because of Captain Marvel, you are sorely mistaken. She was offered this after she won her Oscar several years ago for Room, and it actually had its premiere at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) back in 2017. So it’s been in the can for awhile…and you know how Netflix will pick up stuff even if its the last player on a team to be picked. Unicorn Store relies on its colorful whimsical premise and off beat humor. It relies a lot of suspension of belief and performances to get you through the short 90 minute run time. And I guess the end result is…okay?
I honestly don’t know what to think of this film. I haven’t even really let it sink in due to the fact that I just finished it 20 minutes ago on my phone on my lunch at work. It was a watchable film. It had a plot, it had characters, and it had an overlaying arc. But did it have purpose? I guess you could say its sole purpose was to be another one of those films with the “hit you over the head” message: It’s never too late to discover yourself and you can discover yourself by failing at things as much as you can achieving them. How many movies have had this message? I’d be dead by the time I finished if I started doing research and starting to count. If you need to know the premise, it’s about a woman that has an early life crisis after being kicked out of art school…I guess for being too experimental and zany? Anyway, she finds a temp job really quickly at this PR firm where it doubles as an ad agency…I guess? Why am I asking these questions? When watching this film I guarantee you are going to be constantly asking yourself…”wait, what?” She then gets a card on the stoop of her house (but she misses seeing it) and then she gets a card at her work telling her to come to some store, the store that has everything she needs. It is run by a whimsical and weird Samuel L. Jackson (hence why I think this was film around the exact same time as Marvel). He has a minor afro and colorful strings and glitter in his hair and he offers her what she has wanted her whole life. A unicorn. There are stipulations to get this unicorn, aka build it a stable, be financial stable, etc. And she wants this unicorn, and goes to make her life right to be able to own one…maybe?
Basically its like a weird Garden State vibe kind of whimsical weirdly-toned dramedy. Brie Larson’s character, Kit, hires a guy to build this unicorn stable and they eventually bond, and that’s the best part of the movie, were their scenes together. The man is played by Mamoudou Athie, who was a stand out in the movie Patti Cakes. The only part of Unicorn Store I believed in was their budding friendship and romance. Unfortunately the movie was too short to show more of that, as all of its focus was Kit discovering herself and whether or not she would get a unicorn and whether or not her ad for a vacuum would be picked up by a really creepy #Metoo type weirdo boss. I’ll give it one other thing: Brie Larson is a better actor in this than she was in Captain Marvel. And honestly, that is probably because the character of Captain Marvel was written a little wooden and directed by two people way in over their head that hadn’t directed a big feature before.
Brie Larson directed this. And for the most part it is good. She knows how to direct people. She knows how to direct herself. She knows how to frame a scene (the standout being her pitch to the vacuum ad), the only thing I didn’t like is that some parts of the film had an unnecessary shaky cam like presence that had no point. Thankfully it didn’t do that the whole time. She moves back in with her parents at the beginning of the film, played in small roles by Bradley Whitford and Joan Cusack, but their characters are ones we’ve seen too many times before. Weirdos, with weirdo jobs (they go on hikes with damaged teens/young adults with truth circles), and they invade her space but eventually show that they are actually sane and know a thing or two about life.
I just…like I said, I don’t know what to think of this film. Would I ever watch it again? Probably not. Would I recommend it? Only maybe to people that have a high tolerance for weird ass tales in kin with movies like Garden State (a much better film). Did I feel like I wasted my time? No, I mean, I like Brie Larson as an actress a lot (although she has been foot in mouth recently with her interviews and press tour for Captain Marvel), and I really think if she was given a chance to direct more and better projects she could be a pretty decent director overall. The ultimate problem is: who is this movie really for? Who is it marketed toward? What is this movies audience? The answer is: I have no fucking idea. Maybe that is the reason why Netflix picked it up?