For Malory and Caleb (Lauren Lapkus and Nick Rutherford), becalmed in a four-year engagement, the thrill has gone — though, honestly, it’s hard to imagine one was ever there. Unrelentingly quippy (both actors have backgrounds in sketch comedy and improv), their interactions suggest kooky best pals much more than longtime lovers.
Yet, as “The Unicorn” begins, their inability to pull the marriage trigger is presented as a mystery, especially to Malory’s sexually outré parents, who remain so mutually besotted they renew their vows every year. And when, at their 25th anniversary party, their secret is revealed as a fondness for threesomes, Malory and Caleb decide that, hey, maybe an extra pair of hands — a so-called unicorn — would be just the thing to invigorate their own close encounters.
If only the same were true for this workmanlike comedy, kept afloat solely by the likability of its two leads. Robert Schwartzman’s direction is blah, his story labored and the supporting characters one-note. There’s the free-spirited, touchy-feely Jesse (Lucy Hale), lolling in her New Age lair of pillows and mood lighting. Or the hip-swiveling Tyson (Beck Bennett, more familiar to some as Vladimir Putin on “Saturday Night Live”), whose stripper moves turn Caleb on maybe a little too much. It’s notable that the only character who behaves like a regular person is a professional third wheel, played with natural charm by Dree Hemingway.
At heart, “The Unicorn” is about the kind of obsessive self-examination that cripples commitment.
“We’re a fun couple, right?” the two wonder, anxiously. Here’s a clue: if you have to ask the question, then you’re probably not.