Finn Taylor’s Unleashed is a sweetly shaggy comedy that sits adjacent to the human-versus-animal nature currently being waged in other, far darker films. Not long after her boyfriend Luke (Josh Brener) steals her app and becomes a tech billionaire, programmer Emma (Kate Micucci) moves to San Francisco with her cat Ajax and dog Summit, only to lose them when handyman Carl (Sean Astin) accidentally leaves the door open. Lithe model Diego (Justin Chatwin), and good-hearted lunkhead Sam (Steve Howey) soon enter Emma’s life, and she doesn’t realize they’re Ajax and Summit transformed into bipeds because of reasons.
Though set in San Francisco, Unleashed is shot all over the Bay Area, with director Taylor making no attempt to hide or explain why the characters suddenly end up in Oakland or Richmond the way San Francisco hipsters never do. (For the record, Unleashed drops the h-bomb itself: 10 characters are credited as “hipster,” including Coffee Hipster, City Hipster, and Sunbathing Hipster.) While it ultimately plays out by the rules of the rom-com — the working-class Carl is obviously Kate’s soulmate, even if the age difference between Micucci and Astin is off-putting — Unleashed is a very enjoyable variation on the form, and it finds the emotional truth of its cartoony premise. Also, cats rule and dogs drool.
Not rated. Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.