The Unicorn (2018) ☆☆☆(3/4): Searching for their threesome partner

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“The Unicorn” is a little amusing sex comedy willing to go along with its two main characters who are eager to have more fun and excitement for their long relationship. As these two characters respectively try to figure about what they really want during their one-night sexual adventure, the movie gives us a series of witty and funny moments with some nice insights on love and relationship, and that is more than enough to compensate for its several small notable flaws including its rather overlong final act.

Lauren Lapkus and Nick Rutherford play Malory and Caleb, a young couple who has been engaged to each other for 4 years but still has not advanced much toward the next logical step. During the opening scene, Caleb shows Malory a ring in their car, but it is the ‘re-engagement’ ring made with his wisdom tooth, and she is fine with that because, well, both of them have been quite content with where their relationship is at present.

However, when they go to the residence of Malory’s parents for attending a house party celebrating the renewal of the marriage vow of Malory’s parents, Malory and Caleb feel that their relationship lacks something as watching how freely and passionately Malory’s parents love each other. After they happen to learn that Malory’s parents did threesome sex at times, a certain idea soon comes upon them, and, shortly after they go back to their motel room, they decide to try threesome sex as soon as possible for livening up their relationship.

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Of course, finding the suitable third member for threesome sex within a short time turns out to be difficult from the beginning, and the screenplay by Rutherford and his co-writers Kirk C. Johnson and Will Elliott, which is based on the story by director/co-producer/co-cinematographer John Schwartzman (He is the younger brother of Jason Schwartzman, by the way), generates good laughs as Malory and Caleb often bumble and fumble in their silly attempts. At first, they go to a bar right across from the motel, and then they encounter a girl who is quite open to them from the beginning, but, when they subsequently go to her house, she turns out to be not exactly what they want, and that leads to one of the most hilarious moments in the film.

Another main part in the movie is unfolded in a male strip club whose name looks rather puzzling but is actually pretty easy to pronounce. Not long after they enter this strip club, Malory and Caleb meet a guy who turns out to be quite more generous than expected, and he and they soon come to spend some time in a private place in the club. Caleb and Malory feel like being ready for anything, and so does that guy, but then Malory and Caleb come to have an important lesson on threesome sex instead; they must really know well how far they are willing to go with their sex partner.

While the movie leisurely slides from one episodic moment to another, we can easily discern where it is heading along with its two main characters, but the movie sometimes surprises us with unexpected moments. We get some chuckles as Caleb and Malory come to learn about each other’s sexuality more than they want, but the movie also recognizes how serious they are about doing whatever is necessary for boosting their relationship, and there later comes an inevitable point where they come to have doubts about their supposedly stable relationship.

Anyway, the movie steadily maintains its cheerful spirit from the beginning to the end, and Schwartzman and his co-cinematographer Michael Rizzi fill the screen with colorful nocturnal atmosphere, which is further accentuated by a bunch of numerous different pop songs on the soundtrack. During the key scene involved with a ‘massage therapist’, the mood is alternatively tickling and titillating to say the least, and Schwartzman did a commendable job of balancing this scene well between humor and sensuality.

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And it surely helps that the movie is anchored well by the good comic chemistry between its two engaging lead performers. Lapkus, who has been mainly known for her supporting role in TV series “Orange Is the New Black”, and Rutherford are always fun to watch whenever their characters pull or push each other on the screen, and they also provide sufficient gravitas to their characters as required. Right from their first scene in the film, we can instantly sense a long history between their characters, and they are constantly believable in the following relationship developments between their characters along the narrative.

The other performers surrounding Lapkus and Rutherford also fine in their respective supporting roles as providing extra laughs for us. While John Kapelos and Beverly D’Angelo are funny and vivacious as Malory’s loving and exciting parents, Lucy Hale, Beck Bennett, and Dree Hemingway have each own moment as three different characters met by Caleb and Malory, and Hale, who previously played a minor supporting role in “Scream 4” (2011), is particularly good when her character joyously baffles and confuses Malory and Caleb with her perky quirkiness.

“The Unicorn” is the second feature film by Schwartzman, who previously debuted with “Dreamland” (2016). I have not watched that film yet, but “The Unicorn” shows that Schwartzman is a promising new filmmaker to watch, and it will be interesting to see what will come next after this modest but fairly enjoyable work.

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