Review: Unicorn Store

Brie Larson in Unicorn Store

Unicorn Store bursts with a magical fantasy about finding yourself and growing up. It’s a work of visual art from start to finish. Brie Larson directed and stars in this fanciful tale of wonder.

Brie Larson in Unicorn Store
Not right for art school. Her judge was famous for putting a stick in a box, but Kit didn’t put her fanciful paintings in any boxes.

Written by Samantha McIntyre, Unicorn Store tells about Kit (Larson) who thinks she failed at everything. She was kicked out of art school.

She languished for a while on her parents’ couch. Her parents were the wonderful Joan Cusack and Bradley Whitford. They brought in the neighbor Kevin (Karan Soni) to remind her that grown ups keep busy at work.

Brie Larson and Joan Cusack in Unicorn Store
Moms can give some good advice sometimes.

Kit had many problems with her parents. The biggest was she thought she was a disappointment to them.

Kit got a responsible job as a temp. She worked for a creepy guy named Greg (Hamish Linklater) who got too close to her and smelled her hair. (Who knew hair smelling would be the topic of national news the week before this film released on Netflix?)

Beautiful, artistic, hand-made invitations to “The Store” began appearing at her work. She finally went there.

Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson in Unicorn Store

The Store was only for Kit. It was manned by The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) who said they could get her the dream of her childhood – a unicorn – but only if she was worthy of it.

As in any good fairy tale, Kit had to complete three tasks to prove her worthiness to own a unicorn. Not just anyone could receive the unconditional love and acceptance a unicorn would provide!

To complete the tasks, Kit recruited the help of a man from the hardware store, Virgil (Mamoudou Athie). He helped her, even though they never met before that day.

Doing the tasks needed to be worthy of a unicorn made her revisit her art, her dreams, her life, her relationships, and her future. Virgil and her parents helped her along the journey.

As in any good fairy tale, Kit had to complete three tasks to prove her worthiness.

The costumes were as magical as the story. Kit wore outfits with clouds and stars and rainbows. Well, except when she wasn’t dressed in her mother’s business suits pretending to be a drone in a cubical.

Kit painted with love and imagination: angels, unicorns, butterflies, dreams, wishes. Her work glowed bright and sparkly and completely Kit. She’d been told by authority figures it was not good art, and she believed it.

Actually that judgement was utter bullshit. The patriarchy strikes again.

In an interview with Women and Hollywood, Brie Larson said about Unicorn Store, “I’m realizing that it’s the thinkers that are looking for things outside of cultural norms who are the ones changing society and helping it grow. They’re great teachers of this earth, and I hope that as we’re continuing to grow, we can start to nurture those people more. The film is in some ways a film directly for those people who are maybe going, ‘This world feels wrong to me and I feel like there’s another way to do it, but I’m afraid to, and I think it might just be easier to be myself.’ This film is calling to you, saying, ‘We need you. We need you more than ever.’”

Unicorn Store succeeded grandly in celebrating the wonder of individual imagination and vision. It took years for this project to reach fruition, but it’s eerily timely right now. The world is beset with so many serious problems. We desperately need creative, diverse thinkers.

Brie Larson’s childlike wonder in this role is pitch perfect.

This film can charm everyone from children to elders like myself. It’s full of wonder and beauty and should be watched again and again like a favorite bedtime story.

This is Brie Larson’s first time directing. I can’t wait to see where she takes us next. She definitely has the fairy magic.

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