Unleashed is a cute little film which you may not remember in a week, but will enjoy as you view it.
Emma (Kate Micucci) is an app designer whose focus is astrology/astronomy. She makes one app named “Nightsky” which her boyfriend at the time, Luke (Josh Brener), says will be a hit! So he steals it. Thus sending her into a slight depression for, with her being an orphan, trust is a major issue. Making her pets Ajax [note]Human form: Diego[/note] (Justin Chatwin) and Summit [note]Human form: Sam[/note] (Steve Howey) life savers.
Especially sometime later, after moving to San Francisco, when she starts her next app. One similar to “Nightsky” but slightly different? It isn’t necessarily made clear what the difference is. What is made clear though is that thanks to Emma’s Jupiter transit, her two pets get to become human. Leading to them battling for Emma’s affection due to the understanding of her only being able to have one live-in male human at a time.
But, in the long run, they provide as humans what they provided as pets: Comfort. They help Emma with the launch of this new app, deal with Luke who appears at the summit for the app’s launch, and even point her in the direction of Carl (Sean Astin). The guy partly responsible for them turning into humans in the first place. Thus giving us a very light romantic comedy.
Other Noteworthy Moments
Being that Micucci is adorable, it makes her being a protagonist an easy thing to get on board with. Especially when paired with a bit of a sob story for, as noted below, she has this sort of smile which looks like it has a bit of darkness behind it. Which helps with what we learn about Emma, be it her ex stealing her app or being an orphan.
But perhaps the thing she does best, which I must admit I was sort of surprised to see, is that she is very good at making her co-stars look good. Take Emma’s friend Nina (Hana Mae Lee) for example. In a way, she kind of seems like a jerk who claims to be friends with Emma yet seems to spend a good amount of her time insulting her. To the point, it often seems they are only friends because, outside of their boss Monty (Illeana Douglas), they are one of the few women in the company.
Yet, thanks to Micucci’s charm, she helps you get past how Mae Lee plays Nina and you grow to like her. The same goes for Chatwin as Ajax, or rather Diego. For the way Chatwin, like Howey, plays up pet stereotypes, it seemingly is supposed to be comical, but often falls flat. However, Micucci is able to bring about this idea that what likely was supposed to be a joke is just her pet friends being odd, adjusting to human bodies, and being carefree. It is like, she, with her presence and interaction, is able to guide the aforementioned to crafting more interesting characters. Ones which don’t seem either two-dimensional or terribly bland.
Story Wise, It Doesn’t Do Anything Noteworthy
Unleashed is like that person who you see if you buy breakfast. It’s friendly, likable, but the interaction you have with them doesn’t have much depth. It is pretty much all pleasantries. Making it when Emma reveals she is an orphan, just like if that breakfast person was to tell you the same thing, it is awkward and you have no idea how to respond. If only because it seems to come out of nowhere and oddly becomes a topic that seems to suddenly infiltrate a lot of your small talk.
Now, dropping that analogy, the issue with this film is that the whole orphan thing comes halfway and seems like they are trying to add a layer to Emma. One which is supposed to make you feel worse about her ex-boyfriend stealing her app. Yet, in the long run, it feels somewhere between a cheap ploy and something which underestimates Micucci’s talent. For while Micucci is known for usually playing eccentric, yet adorable, characters, like most comedians, you can see this sadness in her. Something that doesn’t require what first feels like a random fact but then is grinded into the story to make up for the fact it wasn’t mentioned earlier on.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
I think this film will be noteworthy for Micucci’s filmography, if only because she plays the undisputed female lead and handles it well. She owns the film and makes sure when you share a scene with her, you benefit from the interaction. However, the film as a whole is so forgettable. Not just because it lacks the comedy you can see it was going for, but because it doesn’t allow Micucci to address the heartache of losing two major things in her life in one false swoop. Add in dropping she is an orphan midway through the movie, to try to craft some reaction, and there is your reason for a Mixed label.
For, overall, Unleashed focuses more on trying to be light and likable, than trying to push the actors to be funny, maybe show some depth, or anything which doesn’t make the film seem like a supermarket DVD bin kind of movie.