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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Unicorn Store is a whimsical comedy with engaging themes about resistance to growing up, belief in magic, and the power of love. There's a pervasive sense of innocence about the movie, but viewers can still expect some mild swearing, including "s--t," "damn," and "hell." "Psychologically attuned" adults and mean-girl co-workers are amiably parodied. A sleazy office boss makes a few unsubtle passes at the main character; it's clear that he's a jerk. Characters drink wine in a social setting, with the young lead gulping hers down. Brie Larson, who directs and stars, has made a movie that will appeal to teens, particularly girls who love the pastel softness of life's magical creatures and don't want to give up the dream too easily.
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What's the story?
Kit (Brie Larson), a lover of rainbows, unicorns, and Care Bears, just got kicked out of art school in UNICORN STORE. By the school's "minimalist" standards, Kit's imaginative, childlike creations are inconsequential. Disappointed in herself and sure she's disappointing her very understanding and worried parents (Joan Cusack and Bradley Whitford), the socially awkward and friend-challenged Kit resolves to "give up childish things" and become a grown-up. First step: a temp job. Abandoning her usual sparkly wardrobe, Kit tries hard to fit in at the office. And, because of a predatory boss, she advances quickly. But not before she receives a mysterious invitation to visit a place enigmatically called "The Store." Skeptical but intrigued, Kit goes to The Store, where she meets The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson), a wildly eccentric man in a wildly eccentric setting who offers to give her a unicorn who will love her forever! No strings attached, only a few conditions to fulfill. Kit's disbelief is trumped by her willingness to try and her lifelong love for the mystical animal. Aided by Virgil (Mamoudou Athie), a young hardware store employee, Kit sets out to balance her office job with unicorn preparations. It's a tall order, but if Kit is up to it, she may just find the life she's been longing for.
Is it any good?
It may be too offbeat for some and too precious for others, but Brie Larson has made the most of rainbows, unicorns, and all things bright and shiny in a film for lovers of magical tales. Acting is solid, with Mamoudou Athie standing out as the heroine's able helper and love interest. Bradley Whitford and Joan Cusack have a great time as Kit's over-the-top "conscious" parents (they run a program for young people called "Emotion Quest") and bring heart to their send-up as well. Unicorn Store, which played in the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, was finally released nearly two years later to capitalize on Larson's success in Captain Marvel. It's not a great movie, but it's a good-looking and heartfelt effort for Larson.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the visual design of Unicorn Store enhances the film's premise and contributes to the movie's point of view. How do the costumes (particularly Kit's and The Salesman's) and sets help deliver the messages? Think about the look of The Store and the look of The Office. What do they tell you about the people who inhabit them?
Kit's mom says, "The most grown-up thing you can do is fail at the things you really care about." What does this mean? Do you agree with her?
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