After following the prescribed path for a Best Actress Oscar-winner (being in a superhero movie), Brie Larson is moving on to the next stage in her career: directing! Her quirky directorial debut, which she also stars in, is coming to Netflix this month, but viewers may be wondering whether Unicorn Store is based on a book. Given Netflix's penchant for book adaptations, it's a fair question, but Unicorn Store is actually an original screenplay by Samantha McIntyre. She's also written for the FX comedy series Married, per her iMDB page, and Roommates, ABC Family's short-lived first foray into half-hour comedy.
Unicorn Store tells the story of an off-beat woman named Kit who gets kicked out of a snobby art school, apparently because her oeuvre is too heavily inspired by Lisa Frank. She lands on her parents' couch and slips into a Pop-Tarts-fueled depression, zonking out in front of the TV for long stretches of time. (Relatable? Relatable.) Kit lands a boring office job temping at a PR firm but, for obvious reasons, doesn't exactly fit in there either. She struggles with being a grown-up but not knowing how to ~adult~ and all this millennial angst reaches a head when Joan Cusack reminds her that "the most grown-up thing you can do is fail at things you really care about." No, you're crying.
But wait, you say, where do the unicorns come in? Well, amidst this struggle, Kit gets a mysterious, Hogwarts-esque letter inviting her to a venue called "The Store." There, Larson gets to reunite with her Captain Marvel co-star Samuel L. Jackson, who plays "The Salesman," an equally off-beat character in a neon pink suit. The Store curiously sells "anything you need," and The Salesman promises Kit he can make her childhood dream of owning a unicorn come true — if she earns it.
So, Kit taps back into her artistic self to build her unicorn a stable worthy of its majesty — while fighting back absolutely everyone in her life who thinks she's "insane" — to prove to The Salesman that she deserves it. Along the way, she finds a path back to who she really is. Besides Cusack, the supporting cast includes Bradley Whitford and Hamish Linklater, The Get Down's Mamoudou Athie, Deadpool's Karan Soni, and Veep alum Mary Holland.
Unicorn Store first premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, but it got mixed reviews and Netflix didn't pick up its distribution rights until January 2019. Larson had initially auditioned for a role in the film, but didn't get it, and the production never got off the ground. After her Oscar-winning turn in Room, the actress was offered to come on board Unicorn Store as its director and simply cast herself in the role.
"I was getting burnt out, so the idea of doing a film that deals with inspiration and positivity really spoke to me and made for an incredible process along the way," she told Variety. "I needed to restore myself and I hope that this film has that capability for others."
Unicorn Store is now streaming on Netflix.