Your weekly streaming pick is Unicorn Store. It was a bit of a conundrum this week. All I can think about is Avengers: Endgame and when I can go and see it again. I haven’t had motivation to watch much of anything non-Marvel since seeing Endgame either. Then I remembered that Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) tried her hand at directing. To go one step further, she got along with Samuel L Jackson so well in Captain Marvel that she cast him in the movie.
Kit (Brie Larson) is an energetic, enigmatic, and artistic woman. Her loud art and expression seems lost on the world. She gets booted from art school and has to move back home. Her parents (Joan Cusack and Bradley Whitford) needle her to do what they think she should with her life. They also run a youth program where they gush about the other kids, and one of their employees, Kevin (Karan Soni).
Larson decides to become an adult. She does this in a way that is childish for a woman her age. She puts on some drab colors and gets a job at a bland cubicle farm. Her odd boss, Gary (Hamish Linklater) takes an uncomfortable liking to her. Kit tries to accept her new station in life, one of defeat. That is, until she gets an invitation from The Salesman (Samuel L Jackson).
I was going to watch this the second Netflix released it but I saw Captain Marvel first. That mess of a movie left a bad taste in my mouth as far as Larson as a performer. I was further worried that she’d come in and steal the spotlight from the original Avengers. Her limited role in Endgame actually helped me remember that this woman is a very good actress.
Unicorn Store is currently streaming on Netflix
The character of Kit doesn’t quite bring Larson to the heights we see in Room and Short Term 12. It does move her in the right direction though. Its a return to form that combines her gravity with some cutesy fun. The movie doesn’t shy away from it’s themes. Color and energy point out the distinctions between her character and how she sees the world.
Jackson has a much smaller role than you’d assume. Credited only as The Salesman he is so much more. He’s the instrument for Kit’s journey. He moves the whole plot forward despite his limited screen time. Athie gets to play the sounding board for the audience. He does a great job keeping up with Larson. He stands on his own and bolsters the movie.
Fun performances by Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Hamish Linklater, and Karan Soni round out the rest of the cast. These supporting players build Kit’s world. It allows a small cast to tell the story in Samantha McIntyre’s script without it feeling small.
A solid directorial debut for Larson. There is nothing wrong with the technical aspects of the movie. The cinematography and editing make for an experience that elevates a mediocre script. Unicorn Store shows promise for another phase of Larson’s career.
Going into the movie it’s clear the title isn’t so literal. There is a nice journey laid out for the character where every task isn’t what it seems on the surface. The reasons why and how aren’t always clear but that also seems to be the point. What people think they want isn’t always what we want. What people think they need is rarely what we need.
Unicorn Store walks this strange line between accepting who you are and taking responsibility. It protects Kit’s inner child on one hand while on the other giving her the tools she needs to grow up. The message gets a little muddled but ends up being ultimately satisfying. The movie is essentially cotton candy. It doesn’t have much substance but is sweet, colorful, and goes down easy.