Thursday, April 11, 2019

Unicorn Store


Kit loves sparkles and pastel colors and unicorns. And art! She goes to college and takes a class from a prestigious professor, known for his photo-realistic paintings of cardboard boxes with sticks propped inside them. Wow. One day a class does self-portraits, everyone standing by their work to show its accuracy. Kit covers herself in glitter and paint... then the canvas... and then the wall around the canvass. Then, as one of the judges shakes his head and gives her low marks, her childish smile turns to hurt confusion.

The solution here is obvious: don't take that art class, woman! Find one that fits you!

The whole movie takes this over the top naive stance on self-expression. If you can get past, accept, or suspend your belief for an hour and thirty-one minutes as scenario by scenario goes by in this fashion, you may get a thing or two out of this movie. One is enjoyment, plain and simple. This is the easiest. The other is a message. The movie is certainly trying to convey one, but your mileage may vary. For me, I occasionally suspended belief and got a decent amount of enjoyment out of Brie Larson's rather vain foray into the directing world.

There really is a decent amount of charm here and it had me laughing out loud on occasion -- you know, those singular "HA"'s that burst out from time to time -- because of the cynical and frustrated yet naive worldview the movie and Kit have. There are quite a few good lines and ridiculous scenarios to mine, so even when they're not rich they give out plenty. Larson has good delivery, and surrounds herself with genuinely funny people like the comic genius Bradley Whitford, Joan Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, even Karan Soni, and Mamoudou Athie, the resident newbie, fits in with the humor level. There are also a few noticeable moments of creative directing, and nothing comes across as particularly awkward, once you get past the premise.

When has Joan Cusack or Bradley Whitford ever not made something better by their presence? 

At the core of this movie is supposed to be a girl -- a woman who's still a child, who still wants childish things and clings to her girlish dreams, but knows that something is wrong and needs to change. I can get behind that. She's self-centered and ignores the good things she has in pursuit of what she thinks she needs -- the unicorn. (Oh yeah, Samuel Jackson is trying to sell her one, but she had to prove herself worthy first. That's the plot.) But she doesn't need a unicorn per se, she just needs love, and for some reason doesn't notice that's something she already has and is merely pushing away.

The journey to her discovering this should be easy enough, but it gets muddled up in its own tangle of sequins and rainbow-colored streamers. Distracted by how cutesy it is, and how magical its premise is. And by bemoaning how art degrees are useless and boring jobs are boring and full of awful people. If I cared about all those things, it might've had an excuse in my eyes. But I didn't. We know she won't end up with a unicorn, yet the movie is so intent on the magical idea of it that it waits for the last possible second for her to realize and decide so; robbing her of a much more heroic moment of self-denial that would have completed her arc in an honestly fulfilling way.

Also, why the aversion to romance? I liked her and Not Pictured Boyfriend Material. But they barely held hands! 

In the end, I wasn't sure if she learned her lesson or not. We assume so, because it's the end, a cute song is playing and she's happy -- but while I spent the whole movie knowing exactly what the theme was aiming to say, the credits started scrolling by and I realized it never actually said it. Not outright, and not in passing. I derived it from the set-up, but in the end only saw the empty space where it was meant to go. I'm not sure what happened or where it got lost, but the mildly funny and charming journey was all there was. Cute enough in a pinch, but lacking true magic.


  1. I saw the trailer for this and thought it was the purest, most adorable thing ever, so I was happy to see your review pop up on my dashboard. I'm still a little skeptical of the whole "unicorn" element--that does seem to sort of confuse the movie's focus--but I think I'll still try to see it sometime. :) Thanks for the review!

    (Also, any awfully inappropriate content that you recall?)

    1. If the look of it appeals to you, you may get even more out of it than I did, and I certainly don't regret watching, even with the flaws I saw in it. Hope you enjoy!

      No, it was very clean. Two s-words perhaps. I remember being almost shocked at their presence because of how otherwise spotless it all was, haha!