The Unicorn is worth seeing for two reasons:
1) Lauren Lapkus and Nicholas Rutherford, two relatively fresh faces we should all keep an eye on.
2) Dramedies interested in exploring romantic relationships on — at least partially — a serious level is a diminished and ever-more diminishing genre on the big screen nowadays. Even if this average entry — think of it as Permission’s comedically cruder, but shallower (which are in no way related to each other, even if they both happen to apply here equally) step-cousin, both concerned with probing how unexamined contentment can breed unhealthy complacency — is rarely seriously insightful, Lapkus and Rutherford consistently feel true as a couple, and their story touches upon some truths.
They play square young lovers unknowingly at an existential crossroad, on the verge of settling for what they’ve become instead of continuing to expand what they want and thus who they are. To rectify this settled squaredom, they push their own envelopes and that of their relationship by walking on the experimental wild side for one raging night, farcically crisscrossing with a calvacade of colorful, progressively-promiscuous characters. Their series of kooky interactions serve as the narrative backbone fueling the plot, dialogued with egregiously-quippy retorts — recall Juno’s cutesy rat-a-tat, and the scorn it and copycats wrought— that border on caricatures, sapping a lot of the aforementioned truth(s).
There’s quirkiness in service of truth, and then there’s quirkiness too-transparently intended to entertain, and The Unicorn falls on the latter, sadder half of that line. It doesn’t focus on developing a commentary on the truth of this artifice; whether or not it’s a facade these characters use as a mask to hide…something isn’t really a question probed here. As such, it’s fair to ask if the artifice is a superficial attempt at lending the film a charming personality, without generating any level of discourse regarding the true nature of personalities. Instead of artifice deepening truth, The Unicorn dabbles in artifice meant purely to amuse, and it’s not sufficiently amusing to compensate for this paucity of substance.
Regardless, sometimes a stroll down cinematic memory lane can be nostalgically enjoyable; we need to support the sorts of movies we want to see more of, even forgettable iterations like The Unicorn.