Kate Micucci is starting to make her move in Hollywood as she gets more and more screen time. She was already very busy providing voices to various animated projects like Velma in Scooby Doo, Rook in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, "The Lego Batman Movie", and Disney's Nature Cat.


However, including the recent released - and very funny - "The Little Hours" where she played along side Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dave Franco and John C Reilly; now she comes with her first film as a live lead in "Unleashed.


No, this is not a remake of the Jet Li/Bob Hoskins/Morgan Freeman actioner from a few years back and no, she is not an uncaged kung-fu assassin on the prowl. (Um, actually that might be really funny!)

Instead Kate plays Emma, a computer geek who has just finished designing a kick-ass astronomical computer program that demonstrates to her beau Luke (Josh Brener). He concurs that it's a great program that will make millions after which he steals it, deletes all evidence that she had anything to do with it, while he goes off and makes those millions for himself.


Heartbroken, she adopts a dog named Summit and a cat named Ajax and moves to San Francisco to get away from her past. The dog and cat become her family and closest allies, especially since she hasn't met anyone. That somewhat changes when she moves into a new apartmentand the new landlord excepts pets.


The handyman Carl (Sean Astin) takes an immediate shine to her but [predictably] is too shy to make a move. It doesn't matter because after a freak astrological alignment during a full moon, Ajax and Summit are morphed into humans. Human Summit takes the name Sam (Steve Howey) and Ajax becomes Diego (Justin Chatwin).

Sam and Diego run off because they are pretty sure Emma will never believe that they are her two pets. In fact Diego, conjures a scheme in which he will pursue Emma romantically as Diego that Sam figures might work for him as well. So now the two are competing for Emma's love - using all their animal characteristics - with the hope that she will keep one.


To earn money, Diego becomes a highly sought after male model because his cat-like personality can't be matched as he struts the runway. Sam becomes a highly sought after personal trainer after people see how fit he is.


In the mean time Emma is designing a new program with the assistance of her co-worker Nina (Hana Mae Lee) at her new gig; the new program is to compete with the program that was stolen by her ex. Carl sits by pining away for Emma who now has the eye of the two strange gentlemen callers who are both in demand.


It is very predictable but Chatwin and Howey get great mileage channeling their old Acting 101 classes into their role. That's the class in which the instructor tells students to act like an animal. Chatwin is a little better but Howey gets a few great laughs when he starts humping the copier machine. And, that's where the film gets a few good laughs when they do something that a cat or a dog would do.


The film gets a different nod because most transformation movies involve the human turning into a fitting creature of some sort and usually by a spell or hex. "The Shaggy D.A." and "The Shaggy Dog" had the protagonist uncontrollably turning into a sheepdog.


Micucci suffers from a weak script, but she gives it a go channeling an Alice Pearce persona into her character. She's cute with big surprised eyes and that will probably get her a few more light comedy roles.


"Unleashed" is a very watchable but predictable chick-flick that ironically gives Justin Chatwin and Steve Howey a bigger chance to show off their comedic chops rather than the star Kate Micucci. It's cute and fun for pet lovers.   -- GEOFF BURTON