Unicorn Store

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Unicorn Store
A woman with paint on her face, wearing a backwards baseball cap, lying on grass with her hands behind her head.
Official release poster
Directed byBrie Larson
Written bySamantha McIntyre
Produced by
CinematographyBrett Pawlak
Edited byJennifer Vecchiarello
Music byAlex Greenwald
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • September 11, 2017 (2017-09-11) (TIFF)
  • April 5, 2019 (2019-04-05) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States

Unicorn Store is a 2017 American fantasy comedy-drama film directed and co-produced by Brie Larson (in her feature film directorial debut). It stars Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Karan Soni, Mamoudou Athie, Mary Holland and Hamish Linklater.

It premiered during the Special Presentations section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was released on April 5, 2019 by Netflix. The film received mixed reviews with critics praising the performances and Larson's potential as a filmmaker while some lamented the screenplay as too "immature" and "whimsical".


Kit, a failed artist, moves back in with her parents and takes a temp job at a PR agency. At work, Kit meets the vice president, Gary, who is extremely awkward and makes inappropriate advances.

Shortly after starting, Kit receives a mysterious letter from "The Salesman" who invites her to "The Store," that sells "what you need." He offers her to fulfill her childhood fantasy of owning a unicorn. Kit must prepare by meeting specific requirements in files.

The first file outlines how to provide an adequate unicorn living enclosure. Kit hires Virgil, a hardware store employee, to build a stable without telling him what for. Soon, they begin to talk and spend time together. The second file tells Kit she must prepare to feed the unicorn. Kit and Virgil buy hay on a day trip together and further get to know each other.

Gary offers Kit an opportunity to present a vacuum cleaner marketing pitch. During this time, Kit receives the next file and learns she must be able to surround the unicorn with a loving environment, but realizes her poor relationship with her parents prevents this.

On the weekend Kit should be preparing her work presentation, but goes on an "Emotion Quest" wilderness trip with her parents, confronting them during the 'truth circle' time, leading to a family discussion. They end up arguing, furthering tensions between her and her parents.

Once Kit returns home, she finds inspiration for her presentation and works all night. The next file says she must show that she can financially support the unicorn.

Kit's flamboyant presentation is not well-received by the business executives, who watch in stunned silence. They unanimously opt for a different pitch, using an attractive model. Kit leaves her job. On a date with Virgil, he asks her to reveal the secret of the stable's purpose. Kit tells him about the unicorn store, bringing him to it, only to find it is gone. Kit's confusion turns to anger as she feels betrayed. Virgil becomes concerned, telling her that she's been conned, but assuring her that he doesn't think she's crazy. Kit exits angrily, leaving Virgil standing there, where he sees some hay on the ground.

Kit gives up on her dream of owning a unicorn and throws out all of her art and supplies. After a healing moment with her mother, Kit tries to reach out to Virgil, visits his store, but is unable to get in touch with him. She leaves an apologetic message on his voicemail, and later finds that Virgil has finished the stable, decorating it with the artwork that she had thrown out.

The Salesman calls to tell Kit the unicorn has arrived. When she hesitates, the Salesman tells her there is another waiting if Kit doesn't get it. Virgil urges Kit not to go. Despondent, Kit says if she doesn't go, she will always wonder. When she arrives, Kit finds the unicorn is actually there. She talks to the unicorn, thanking him when he was there for her when nobody else was, and finally gains closure. She decides not to take the unicorn with her, and leaves it for the next customer. Virgil comes in and sees the unicorn as well. They leave hand-in-hand, astonished at all they had just experienced.


Various crew members appear in brief roles, including: writer Samantha McIntyre as Sam, a woman also seeking a unicorn; composer Alex Greenwald as a ninja; production designer Matt Luem as Jonathan Scott, Kit's art professor; and executive producer Nathan Kelly as David Davidson Jr. Toks Olagundoye and Jack J. Yang cameo as Scott's fellow art professors.


Larson had previously auditioned to be in the film but failed to get the part, but five years later was invited to come on board as director.[1]

Principal photography began in November 2016, in Los Angeles, California and concluded on December 9, 2016.[2][3]


The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2017.[4][5] On January 9, 2019, it was revealed that Netflix picked up the distribution rights.[6] It was released on April 5, 2019.[7]


On Rotten Tomatoes, 64% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 90 reviews, with an average rating of 5.96/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "It'll be best enjoyed by audiences with a high tolerance for colorful whimsy, but Unicorn Store is easy to like — and it suggests Brie Larson has a future behind the camera."[8] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 44 out of 100 based on reviews from 16 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9]

Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent gave it a positive review, praising its "earnest emotion" and "joyous celebration of femininity."[10] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly rated it "B", and called it "A candy-coated, willfully quirky wisp of a film; like a Michel Gondry fantasy dipped in glitter and rainbow sprinkles."[11] Tim Grierson of Screen International wrote "Both skewering and celebrating its adult protagonist's childlike wonder, Unicorn Store runs the risk of excessive whimsy at every turn. But Larson navigates through a cute story's clear limitations to deliver a film that's often quite funny."[12]

Peter Debruge from Variety was critical of the film, saying it fails to create the right tonal balance, and labeled it "a creative misfire".[1] IGN's Kristy Puchko gave the film 4.3 out of 10, and stated "Despite all the magic, unicorns, and glitter, there's not much fun or whimsy to Unicorn Store. Its wonder is punctured by Kit's perpetually prickly attitude. Its humor is dulled by Larson's incoherent comedy stylings"[13]


  1. ^ a b DeBruge, Peter (September 11, 2017). "Toronto Film Review: 'Unicorn Store'". Variety.
  2. ^ Ford, Rebecca (November 14, 2016). "Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford Join Brie Larson's 'Unicorn Store'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  3. ^ Larson, Brie (December 9, 2016). "Last day of filming got me like". Instagram. Archived from the original on 2021-12-25. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  4. ^ Pond, Steve (15 August 2017). "Aaron Sorkin, Brie Larson, Louis CK Movies Added to Toronto Film Festival Lineup". TheWrap. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Unicorn Store". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  6. ^ Mavity, Will (January 10, 2019). "Breaking (I think?): Brie Larson's directorial debut, Unicorn Store has been acquired by Netflix for a streaming release later this year". Twitter.
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 31, 2019). "Brie Larson & Lynette Howell Taylor Set Two Films At Netflix; Larson To Next Star In 'Lady Business'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  8. ^ "Unicorn Store (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  9. ^ "Unicorn Store Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  10. ^ Loughrey, Clarisse (5 April 2019). "Unicorn Store review: Brie Larson's directorial debut is a joyous celebration of femininity". The Independent. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Unicorn Store". Entertainment Weekly. April 4, 2019.
  12. ^ Grierson, Tim (September 13, 2017). "'Unicorn Store': Toronto Review". Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  13. ^ Puchko, Kristy (April 5, 2019). "NETFLIX'S UNICORN STORE REVIEW". IGN. Retrieved April 13, 2019.

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