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Review: Kate Micucci stars in the infectious rom-com ‘Unleashed’

Kate Micucci and Justin Chatwin in the movie "Unleashed."
Kate Micucci and Justin Chatwin in the movie “Unleashed.”
(Level 33 Entertainment)

Sometimes a film with the most undeniably goofy premise comes along — and you’re shocked when it charms you. Such is the case with the slyly winning “Unleashed,” a rom-com about lovelorn app designer Emma (Kate Micucci), whose pets transform into humans when she wishes upon a star.

Emma has given up on trusting and loving humans after a terrible betrayal, so she adopts yellow lab Summit and kitty Ajax to bring love into her life. But during a particularly dramatic astrological event, her furry friends turn into a pair of lovable men. While the puppyish Sam (Steve Howey) and the feline Diego (Justin Chatwin) try to woo their way back onto Emma’s couch, she learns to let her guard down and regains her trust in real people, specifically her handy neighbor, Carl (Sean Astin).

“Unleashed,” written and directed by Finn Taylor, works because of the collective commitment to the magical realism on-screen. Chatwin and Howey are the most valuable players, giving truly inspired physical performances. Chatwin slinks and scampers with a feline grace that garners Diego a modeling contract, while Howey nails the personality and physicality of the big, dumb, lovable, lumbering lab.

Micucci’s wide-eyed wonder and credulity are indispensable ingredients as well. She handily commands the role of a quirky and romantic leading lady. “Unleashed” comes from a wacky, but sincere place, and the stars in Micucci’s eyes seem to be contagious.

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‘Unleashed’

No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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