Unicorn Store was one of those films that I really enjoyed despite it being an ill-fitting genre match for me.
Directed by Brie Larson—she of Captain Marvel fame—Unicorn Store follows failed artist Kit after she moves back in with her parents and takes a job at a temp agency.
Kit is a free spirit who loves pink, purple, glitter, and magical creatures. Her temp job, where she spends all day photocopying magazines while fending off a creepy boss, is suffocating. When Kit starts to receive mysterious letters from an unnamed salesman (played by Samuel L. Jackson), she visits his store. There, she discovers that she can buy the one true wish of her heart—a real live unicorn.
The catch? She needs to complete a series of tasks in order to finish the transaction.
Unicorn Store got a lot of laughs out of me, despite me being skeptical about the genre.
The dialogue was witty and completely on-the-nose, and while I was watching it I was struck by how hilarious it was on a metatextual level. It nearly broke the fourth wall multiple times in order to comment on the absurdity of adult life, as well as its own existence as a movie.
Another thing I loved about this film was its intimate knowledge of how the art world looks and acts.
In the beginning of the movie, Kit goes through a final examination for her graduating class. She paints a bright, chaotic picture. When she turns around, she’s faced with three designers all dressed in black looking at her in disgust.
This is a completely true stereotype of designers, and something that I personally experienced while studying art in university. Heck, even I wear all black on the regular, and when I saw this scene I burst out laughing.
Unicorn Store also rang true in showing the audience how the art world grinds you down: how exposing that vulnerable, creative side of yourself only to have it rejected can make you feel like a failure. Likewise, the depiction of immediate post-grad life and how this manifests seemed very apt.
When Kit returns home, she discovers that her old room has been turned into a gym. Her parents wont give her any free space, nor independence. As a result, she ends up living in the basement and taking on a temp job in order to deal with her school debt. This made me cringe, because it’s an all-too-accurate depiction on how millennials enter the job market.
When it comes down to it, any critique I have for this film will be from individual preference, rather than the story being flawed. Because of that I’m really hesitant to give any sort of conclusive critique because it will be so heavily tinged by personal bias.
I will say that I don’t watch a lot of main-character-is-socially-awkward comedies because I find them too hard to sit through without cringing. They remind me too much of social situations where I myself have stumbled or have said something silly.
Stories about artists and writers I also avoid, because art and writing are my day job. It’s too close to home and I need an escape from it. I don’t want a reminder of my job when I’m sitting down at the end of the day to chill.
Watch Unicorn Store if you like whimsical modern-day fantasies or character-driven movies that end on a positive note.
Fun fact: This film was Brie Larson’s directorial debut for a feature-length film, but it’s not the first thing she’s directed. Her earliest directorial credits belong to The Arm and Weighting, both of which are shorts.