All That Glitters: Our Review of ‘Thelma the Unicorn’ on Netflix

All That Glitters: Our Review of ‘Thelma the Unicorn’ on Netflix

Jared Hess and Lynn Wang’s Thelma the Unicorn (Brittany Howard’s voice) is sometimes about the side characters, weaving in and out of the film. One of those is a girl driving by to prove to her parents that unicorns exist in reality. What’s more is that this pink unicorn can sing, the lead singer of the band The Rusty Buckets. After going viral, Thelma and her bandmates, Otis and Reggie (Will Forte and Jon Heder), move to the city to create their record.

In the big bad city, Thelma gets the attention of a sleazy A&R guy, Vic Diamond (Jemaine Clement), and she tells him her secret – that she’s not a unicorn and is actually a simple brown farm pony. He doesn’t care, of course, because he’ll market her regardless of her real talent and fake, painted looks. The rest of Thelma The Unicorn, is either about a rival (Edi Patterson) outing her or her telling everyone the truth.

This film does its best, presenting itself as an absurd thesis of individualism despite it being a Netflix movie. After all, this is still coming from the mind of Jared Hess, the hyphenate talent behind Napoleon Dynamite. I also can’t believe that Brittany Howard of The Alabama Shakes carries an animation film but good for her. Working together in Thelma the Unicorn means that regardless if it  fails or passes, viewers will still get a fascinating product.

The thing about Thelma the Unicorn is that it exaggerates a lot of things about the music industry. Many in the cast are in that industry – one of them should tell Hess to tone it down. Under the spotlight, Thelma gets mostly fans but some paid haters, the latter literally throwing eggs at her publicly. Most of those interactions happen more subtly and online, so I wish there was more of that here.

Thelma the Unicorn features other actors who lend their voices to characters like Fed Armisen and Zach Galifianakis. They do, however, go more than come, and viewers can feel the difference when other voice actors come in. While some of the aspects of the film are lacking, some do too much, like the animation and plot. It draws many characters to exaggerate movements and too many things are happening plot wise.

And just like that, Thelma the Unicorn goes as fast as it comes with its running time, just like some of its characters. I don’t know why I’m giving this film a pass,  maybe it’s the music and Howard’s voice itself. Who else should spread the message of being oneself besides someone who practises that in her day job? The music, well, the Rusty Buckets songs, are also great here and can play outside of its context.

Watch Thelma the Unicorn on Netflix.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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