Welcome to “The Next Geek Thing.” Here, we ignore the usual TV/movie trend of sequels, reboots, remakes, and adaptations. We look for shows that offer more than just the same old throwbacks to your (or your dad’s) childhood. What else might be out there somewhere in the pop culture world? We all know what’s big and trendy now, or what old classics might endure until the end of time. Here at The CineMasoCast, we try to not only talk about all that, but also look ahead to what comes next.
In this series it’s our ongoing epic quest to find tomorrow’s classics today. Join me if you will, as I look at brand new shows in order to find The Next Geek Thing.
For this installment, let’s consider the original Netflix movie Unicorn Store, starring Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson.
“You might remember them from such movies as Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.”
Brie Larson directed this time around, and she stars as a young lady named Kit. One of the chief criticisms of geek culture is that it celebrates the man-child, i.e., the boy who never grows up (see: every Chris Pratt character, ever). Kit’s character arc flips the trope on its head by showing us a woman-child. Her Care Bears are still on the shelf after all these years. That playhouse her dad built for her? It sits out rotting in the backyard. Against this backdrop Kit fails art school and is forced into a corporate temp job.
Samuel L. Jackson appears as the Salesman for the Unicorn Store. Here he does more than just his usual angry black man shtick (however badass he may be, and yet he still has his moments). The Salesman offers Kit a real live unicorn, which is all she’s ever wanted her whole life. All she has to do to get it is prove herself worthy. Along the way Kit has to deal with her relationships with her enabling helicopter parents, a painfully creepy boss, and the hardware store worker whom she recruits to help her out.
How does this movie stack up as potentially The Next Geek Thing? It depends on your tolerance for glitter, confetti, and bubbles. We have a term in the biz for movies like this: “totes adorbs.” Instead of a Hallmark Channel romance, this movie is a quirky magical fantasy ride about a young girl who has to learn what it means to grow up. Unicorn Store as a basic concept plot outline should rank right up there with Back to the Future. And yet it won’t be quite the stuff of the next wave of remakes and throwbacks.
This movie comes down to execution. As a main character, Kit is a delicate balancing act between relatable and spoiled. The beginning and ending had me on a sugar high of sweetness. Any time you’re making a movie about sweetness, audiences will either love it or hate it. Unicorn Store is a real gut check for personal tolerance. I actually like and want sweetness to balance out my diet of fight scenes and explosions, but that’s just me. While a lot of people would complain about too much sweetness in a movie, I would say that with this one I found myself wanting more, especially in the middle. Let’s just say that Larson and crew did not do this movie any favors by fulfilling Netflix’s quota of s-bombs.
In the final call, Unicorn Store is not The Next Geek Thing. It’s the kind of movie that I sincerely wish could be. It’s a magical fairyland ride of a story about reconciling childhood and adulthood that everyone, especially girls, should easily relate to. But the whimsy experience is not quite as complete as it could have been. When it works, it works beautifully, to the point where sometimes it should’ve but didn’t just go all in.
Thank you for reading. Please join us next time on our quest to find The Next Geek Thing. If you have nominations, please list them in the comments.