Unicorn Store (2017) Review

Unicorn Store (2017)

Directed by Brie Larson

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Karan Soni, Mamoudou Athie, Mary Holland, Hamish Linklater

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.

My Opinion:

Figured I’d give this a watch because 1) There’s a bunch of weird hate aimed at Brie Larson & I wanted to give her film a chance because I like her as an actress and 2) Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson. I love Jackson. Plus it’s cute that these two seem to be real-life friends. Oh, I suppose there’s also a little bit of 3) I’m a girl so I liked unicorns as a child too, of course.

This movie is perfectly fine. I realize that doesn’t sound like much of a compliment. What I mean is that it’s what I expected: It’s a bit quirky with an indie feel and certainly won’t be liked by everyone. Is it aimed more at females? Yes, but I think all of Larson’s hardcore fans will like it since they like her. It’s very much aimed at her sort of fanbase. “Millennial dreamers” is probably the best way to describe who this movie was made for. If you liked La La Land, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t like this. I probably feel like same way about both films but know that they’re not of my generation so I can’t fully relate to either. They’re enjoyable enough films for a one-time watch, though.

I’ll start with the positives: It may sound stupid but I liked Brie’s cute outfits. I mean, they were like what an 8-year-old stuck in a 30-year-old’s body would wear but it reminded me of the crap I wore in the Eighties and I’m a sucker for nostalgia. It was a little weird but fun to see. I actually watched this with my kid and she was loving the outfits. In fact, she seemed to like this movie quite a bit more than I did so I probably got slightly more enjoyment out of this film thanks to seeing her reaction. And the film’s use of color overall was pleasant to the eye – I’m always a fan of that (although it’s no Mandy! that’s a film that did the color thing right). One more positive? There were Care Bears. As a child of the Eighties, I’ll give this film an extra half a point for the Care Bears. Another positive? Oh Shit. I can’t think of anything. I really thought there’d be more. I’m trying to be positive since I think too many people shit on Brie!


Here’s a positive: I can fully understand why some people actually seem to love this movie and are able to relate to it. If I were ten or even twenty years younger, I think I’d be one of those people. When I was younger, this type of film is very much the sort of thing that I loved. I have some very quirky, “indie” favorites from the Eighties and Unicorn Store has a similar feel to those films despite having slightly different values. So I absolutely wouldn’t tell anyone who loves this that they’re “wrong” (who does that anyway?!) as I can relate to loving non-mainstream movies aimed at my generation. Hopefully that respect can go both ways eventually. What I’m saying is this: Can we ALL stop shitting on movies not aimed at our generation?! My generation loved Eighties films and we still do. Respect our opinions on things like The Breakfast Club and Heathers and we’ll respect yours on things like Unicorn Store. I do at least try to give all films a chance, no matter what year they were made.

Unicorn Store is fine but go into it knowing that it’s right at home on something like Netflix. It has a TV movie feel more than a mainstream cinema release. Some very good actors feel very wasted in this (the always delightful Joan Cusack & especially Jackson, whose role is silly but not silly enough to let his crazy self shine). The movie tries to be quirky yet still plays it far too safe – I was hoping for a lot more weird! But having mentioned Mandy, I’m clearly just a fan of weird. The characters are weak and underdeveloped, including Brie’s. I didn’t relate to her character or really care all that much if she’d actually get that unicorn. It’s a shame as I really wanted to like her. There’s also a weird subplot with a creepy boss that feels out of place and the pacing is very slow but, hell, my kid seemed to be enjoying it so I guess it held her attention well enough. The story itself is fun and unique, however, so I appreciate seeing something that I haven’t seen in a million other movies. Man, I struggle with these reviews for movies that are “just okay”. Yeah. Unicorn Store is just okay. Sorry! I wanted to like it a lot more. To be fair, I think it’s one I’d like more on a re-watch. It’s probably a grower. Here’s that extra half a point for the Care Bears…

My Rating: 6.5/10

If you want a really good unicorn movie, I recommend The Last Unicorn. From 1982. Yay Eighties!!!

Oh, and as for Brie Larson & Samuel L. Jackson movies, I did really enjoy Captain Marvel. The hate for that is absolute bullshit. It’s a fun film. Unicorn Store is, however, a better film than Kong: Skull Island (although that was also fun in an almost “so bad it’s good” way). I think Larson & Jackson work well together.

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Get Out (2017) Review

Get Out (2017)

Directed & Written by Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, Catherine Keener

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Get Out follows a young interracial couple who visit the mysterious estate of the woman’s parents.

My Opinion:

Get Out was a pretty good and enjoyable film, especially for something from the “horror” genre (90% of modern horror movies suck). Then again, it’s not exactly your typical shitty, slasher-type crap. It had some thought put into it, a decent script & acting, and some likable characters. It also feels somewhat original compared to the usual stale horror movie crap that Hollywood pumps out. However, I don’t think it’s as groundbreaking as I’d expected from the little I had read of it. To be fair, I’m old & watch too many movies so I’m harder to impress but I do feel like I’ve seen this movie a few times already, just with a different spin.

Okay, I can’t do this completely spoiler-free. HUBBY – STOP READING HERE. (He hates even the tiniest spoilers). I’m not exactly going to spoil this movie but I AM going to name a few movies this film immediately brought to my mind as I watched it. So, if you’ve seen them, I guess that spoils this one for you. I’d already heard this movie compared to one specific film when skimming some reviews & it ruined it a bit as it meant the ending wasn’t really a surprise to me. So, SLIGHT SPOILERS NOW:

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This is very much The Stepford Wives (with racism instead of sexism) and I wish I hadn’t read that beforehand. However, I think updating the concept behind The Stepford Wives was actually a good idea & it worked very well in Get Out. I’ve always liked The Stepford Wives (and, bizarrely, The Stepford Children, a cheesy 1987 TV movie that I was obsessed with at the time & reviewed HERE). The other two movies I was reminded of were two guilty pleasures: the body horror classic Society (which I sort-of-reviewed HERE) and the super cheesy but kind of fun The Skeleton Key (which unfortunately has Kate Hudson in it. Ew). Between those three movies, you have Get Out. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing as plenty of movies are influenced by others and Get Out is certainly a better film than The Skeleton Key, is probably better although less memorable than Society, and is a worthy homage to the Stepford films.

I’m not going to ramble on about this film. It’s had excellent reviews & a lot of people really loved it. I can understand why as it’s a well-written social commentary with some fun comic relief provided by the dog-sitting friend. The acting was better than you get in your standard sort of horrors (just Allison Williams was weak) and I really liked the tone & use of music. But I still feel like this story has been done before & the movie is probably getting a little more hype than is deserved just because of its message. And I prefer to think the message is “Rich people are assholes”. Right??? I think that’s something we can all agree on. Yeah. Rich people. Rich people suck. 😉

There is one very important life lesson that I gained from this film: Bangs (or a fringe as they call it in the UK) do NOT suit everyone. Allison Williams, you gotta grow that shit out. That was a very bad decision.

My Rating: 7/10

CPD Classics: Adventures In Babysitting (1987) Review

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Adventures In Babysitting (1987) (aka A Night On The Town in some territories. That title is even worse!)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Starring:
Elisabeth Shue
Maia Brewton
Keith Coogan
Anthony Rapp
Penelope Ann Miller
Bradley Whitford
Calvin Levels
Vincent Phillip D’Onofrio
George Newbern
John Ford Noonan
John Davis Chandler
Ron Canada
Albert Collins as himself
Lolita Davidovich
Clark Johnson
Kirsten Kieferle

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Chris Parker’s (Elisabeth Shue) boyfriend cancels their anniversary meal plans so Chris decides to take a job babysitting the Andersons’ 8-year-old daughter Sara (and 15-year-old son Brad, who has a huge crush on Chris so sticks around as well). Chris gets a call from her friend Brenda to say she’s run away from home & is now stuck in the big city (Chicago) with no money & needs Chris to come get her. With Sara, Brad, and Brad’s obnoxious friend Daryl in tow, Chris leaves the suburbs & heads into the city. A night of hilarious high jinks & mishaps ensues! Don’t f*^k with the babysitter…

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

This movie came out when I was in my early teens and, my god, I loved this thing! I think a big part of the reason why I liked it so much was that I could really relate to Elisabeth Shue’s character Chris. I had a similar babysitting job one summer where the boy wasn’t much younger than me but couldn’t be trusted to look after the younger sister so the parents had me “babysit”. I also had to deal with the boy’s annoying friends (although none were as obnoxious as Anthony Rapp’s Daryl). Oh, and I think the boy had a crush on me, too, just like Keith Coogan’s Brad had on Chris. I was too young to drive, though, so we had no crazy adventures in Chicago. I shouldn’t admit this but… (You know I will! Lol). Okay – I think I wanted to BE Elisabeth Shue in this. We had similar hair, I thought she was really pretty & her personality in this was a lot like mine, and (this is the sad part) I totally got a coat very similar to her “dead grandpa’s” coat that she wears all through this & topped it off with a colorful scarf just like hers. (Should I have kept that to myself?) 😉

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As for the film, I think it’s actually very funny & even a little bit on the naughty side for a movie with the word “babysitting” in the title. It’s probably aimed more at mid to late teens and I think the title may have put those that age off it as it does sound like more of a “family” film than a teen movie because of it. I know this film so well that I’m having trouble on what to write for those who may know nothing about it. Let’s see….

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You already know I loved the character of Chris. I’m from a very small town & I thought it was funny how they took these kids from the suburbs & put them in the big mean city where, naturally, they come across gunfights & car thieves & men with hooks for hands & blues singing & subway gangs & toe stabbings & hookers & spiking Tab with Drano & Thor. Of course! And the whole time this is going on, we’re shown Brenda thinking SHE’S having the worst night of her life stuck at the bus station with a crazy homeless man demanding she get out of his house (a phone booth), someone stealing her glasses, and a run-in with a rat.

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The Anderson kids are good. Sara is quite smart & feisty for an 8-year-old and Brad’s crush on Chris is sweet. His friend Daryl is a typical, horny, annoying 15-year-old boy. You’ll probably hate him but he does have some great funny lines. The car thief who befriends them is totally loveable, there are lots of quotable lines I still say to this day, the “Babysitting Blues” scene is a CLASSIC (I don’t care what you say! It’s funny & the song is so catchy!), and the sweet babysitter from the suburbs taking on two rival gangs on the subway gives us one of my all-time favorite scenes & quotes in a movie.

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Then we also get some fabulous songs: Real Wild Child by Iggy Pop being my favorite. Also 25 Miles by Edwin Starr and a very fun opening scene where Chris dances around to Then He Kissed Me, setting her character up as a sweet, suburban 17-year-old girl from 1987 (nowadays she’d be twerking up against that bedpost). I know this movie won’t be for everyone and a teenager today may just find it silly but I was the right age for it and I’ll always love it. That’s why Adventures In Babysitting is (yet another late 80’s/early 90’s!) CPD Classic.

My Rating: 9/10

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