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.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) Review

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Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Starring:
Aubrey Plaza
Mark Duplass
Jake Johnson
Karan Soni
Mary Lynn Rajskub

Running time: 86 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is a disillusioned college graduate who interns at Seattle Magazine. One of the magazine’s writers, Jeff (Jake Johnson), proposes to investigate a newspaper classified ad that reads:

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

Jeff selects Darius and [intern] Arnau (Karan Soni) to assist him. They travel to the seaside community of Ocean View to find and profile the person behind the ad [Kenneth (Mark Duplass)].

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My Opinion:

This film got the third highest number of votes when I asked all of you which film I should review next. Everyone was very enthusiastic about this one and I didn’t know what to do as I hadn’t really planned on reviewing it at all. Not because I thought it was bad but, sometimes, I’m just not sure what to say about a film. But I keep my promises so here goes…

I’d been wanting to see this ever since first hearing about the plot. It’s a great idea and I always love that – too many movies are so unoriginal these days. I know it was inspired by a real (joke) classified ad and think it’s great they were able to write a script around this simple idea. I really didn’t know where they’d go with the story.

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I did think this was a good film and am glad I watched it but it was just missing *something* for me. Can’t quite put my finger on it. For one thing, from what I can gather, people seem to be big fans of some of the actors in this. That’s of course going to help people to enjoy a film. But I really didn’t (and still don’t) know anyone in Safety Not Guaranteed.

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Aubrey Plaza was the best thing about the film for me – I can sort of see why people would already like her from other things she’s been in. I know she’s in a show called Parks And Recreation. I’m not a TV person so this show means nothing to me. Mark Duplass also means nothing to me. Not sure what he’s most famous for but know he makes movies with his brother Jay. I’ve watched one, Cyrus, which I had a hard time finishing. I think he’s certainly an acquired taste. As for his character in Safety Not Guaranteed, I couldn’t connect with him. He was a little too odd, a little too indie-movie-quirky misunderstood weird guy? I don’t know… Just didn’t quite work for me and I couldn’t help but think that Aubrey Plaza’s Darius should run away from him as he seemed the type to have bodies hidden underneath his floorboards.

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As for the other characters, I ended up almost liking the story of Jeff (Jake Johnson) a bit more. His story is a little bit like that of Simon Pegg’s Gary King in The World’s End with the whole wanting to relive the past thing. Being my age I, unfortunately, am finding that I can relate to these sort of characters (way) too much. Arnau (Karan Soni) felt a little unnecessary – he seemed to mainly be there to help us understand and give more depth to the character of Jeff. I did think the two characters worked well together.

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Summary:

Safety Not Guaranteed takes a brilliantly simple story idea and gives us an intelligent script with some good complex characters. It ticks all the “indie” boxes but not in that annoying and needy way that some indie films do when they’re trying too hard. It’s a film that the casual cinema goer will probably hate (and may think is seriously going to be about time travel). As with many indie movies, it’s not for everyone. It’s about the characters and, if you can’t relate to at least one of them, you’re not going to enjoy the film. I did enjoy it but do wish I’d cared more for the character of Kenneth. It’s a film I think I should give another chance and re-watch sometime in the future. Anyone have a time machine? πŸ˜‰

My Rating: 7/10

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