TIFF: Unicorn Store

Full disclosure: I own a unicorn named Mindy. She’s magical. She’s a goddamned magical creature. She’s also inflatable but don’t you DARE call her a pool toy. You can, however, call her the centre of attention, which is exactly what she was when I threw a goddamned magical unicorn party earlier this summer. I sent unicorn invitations. I had unicorn party hats, a unicorn pinata, and unicorn names for all the guests. I even made a unicorn cake. No, that’s not true. I actually made TWO unicorn cakes because Sean smashed the first one about 30 seconds after I finished it. And when you throw a unicorn party, people bring you unicorn presents, which is why I own unicorn slippers and a unicorn tape dispenser named Stuart and briefly had unicorn-coloured hair. This either makes me uniquely qualified to review this film, or I should recuse myself for the glaring conflict of interest.

I’m not actually obsessed with unicorns, but you know who is? Kit. Kit (Brie Larson) has literally been obsessed with unicorns her whole entire life. And after painting yet another unicorn-as-self-portrait, she’s unceremoniously flunked out of art school and returns home to mope in her parents’ basement (Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford). In an effort to Not Be A Disappointment to them, she takes an uninspired job with a temp agency and just when it seems the world might be ready to beat the whimsy right out of her, the universe sends her a pop-up store that only sells unicorns, and only to her, run by a tinsel-afroed Samuel L. Jackson, of naturally. Turns out that owning a unicorn is something you have to earn, so Kit sets about getting her life unicorn-ready, and that’s going to take some major changes. But is unicorn ownership really the cure to what ails a directionless, fully grown woman who seems stuck in a perpetual unicorn phase? Isn’t there more to life than glitter and rainbows?

Samantha McIntyre’s script is winkingly funny. For some odd reason neither Sean nor I had gone into this expecting it to be funny, and yet the audience was in stitches. McIntyre has a very quirky style that endeared itself to me immediately. She creates sparks in the smallest little details. I also have to send a shout-out to costumer Mirren Gordon-Crozier who must have combed the known universe to find THE most fanciful pieces of clothing ever produced. Kit wears her personality on her body. Her shirt collection is all blue skies and rainbows. It reminded me of Kimmy Schmidt in that way, who is always seen in sunshine yellows and bright fuchsias. Their clothing is a reflection of who they are. That said, it might be Samuel L. Jackson’s suits that make the biggest and brightest wardrobe impression in this movie.

But the real rock star here is Brie Larson, who makes her directorial debut. She’s just finding her voice as a director so her style isn’t quite as quirky as the tone of the movie, but considering how much it shifts around, I think she handles it well, and I already can’t wait to see what other stories she’ll tell. She assembles a really great cast who are a lot of fun to watch. Cusack and Whitford are everyone’s embarrassing parents, and Mamoudou Athie as The Guy Who Will Build a Unicorn Stable Even Though He’s Not A Carpenter is a particular stand-out.

I really enjoyed Unicorn Store; it’s a sweet reminder that growing up doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on childhood dreams. Underneath the glitter there’s a message about conformity and how women are told to pull away from “girlish” things in order to fall into one of two male-approved categories: the drab, grim businesswoman, or the oversexualized dreamgirl. Anything seen as overtly feminine is assumed to be less serious, and even women themselves can internalize this notion. Not Kit. Brie Larson flexes her comedic chops by playing her as earnest but not naive. In a world where every man’s inner child is constantly catered to with movies about super heroes, robots, pirates, and zombies, this one, finally, is just for us.

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39 thoughts on “TIFF: Unicorn Store

    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, this one I believe was part of the next wave platform, for the “next generation” of film lovers, so not main competition.
      But I thought it was quite lovely and I’m always happy to support a new female director!

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  1. Often Off Topic

    I’m insanely jealous of the unicorn party you had! I shared photos of the unicorn-covered pram I have ready for our little on once she’s born and she ended up with so many unicorn-themed presents at the baby shower, it was amazing! I NEED to see this movie.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Oh my gosh, that’s so cool!
      I tried to give out at least one unicorn party favour in each bag – my brothers in law got unicorn duct tape, my sisters got unicorn makeup brushes, and my 1 year old niece got a unicorn lunch bag that i think i was sad to part with!

      Liked by 2 people

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  2. Christopher

    This sounds like one of those things that could have gone horribly wrong in the wrong hands but fortunately was in the right hands.
    I’m referring to the movie, of course. The unicorn party could only be brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yes of course. In fact, you probably know a lot of the lessons she learns in unicorn ownership. But this movie is still worth watching for Sam Jackson alone. Also for her vacuum pitch. I could have watched that 3 minutes and left very happy.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Brittani

    I’m definitely going to see this one, and your Unicorn party looked AWESOME! My son’s best friend had a unicorn theme for her birthday a few years ago, they have that same pool toy. One of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken is of the two of them floating on it, looking at each other laughing. It’s magical, damn it.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Liz A.

    Sounds like a cute movie. I’ve never been big on unicorns, but when I saw a pattern for a crocheted unicorn gift card holder, I had to make it… (I’d post a picture, but unfortunately, I can’t.)

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  5. reocochran

    I loved your happy unicorn 🦄 🌺party, Jay! You are so right, we sometimes do seem to be corralled into two categories: success lane and dream star (like Barbie dream house owner). I think girls need to have so much more than stereotypes. 😊

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  6. reocochran

    Oh, I will see this movie eventually! Probably with my fairy and unicorn loving oldest daughter, Carrie!
    I liked this summer the second Guardians of the Galaxy and The Big Sick. It has been less movies, more outside fun times.
    I loved your cake!! My daughter in law makes multi-colored rainbow layers of jello with white between each layer. The cake would make my next birthday fabulous!

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    1. Jay Post author

      I had literally just put the finishing touches on it and he was picking it up to move it, and it just tipped over right on its unicorn cake. We just dissolved into laughter. It was kind of tragic, but what can you do?

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. Pingback: Patti Cake$ | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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