Cast: Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Dennis Quaid, Sofía Vergara, Randall Park, Josh Gad
Director: Josh Greenbaum
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
In Cinemas: August 18, 2023
Reggie (Will Ferrell) is a small pleasant, carefree, oblivious dog that adores his owner Doug (Will Forte), and only looks for the simple things in life, like walks in the park or the occasional cuddle. Still, heedless Reggie doesn’t understand that Doug will never provide this; as he appears to be a horrible nasty person that smokes weed all day and is on the verge of being evicted from his house; he also neglects Reggie and shows him no love or affection. When Doug blames Reggie for being the cause of his break-up with his Girlfriend, Doug plots to purposely lose Reggie forever by leaving him far away from his house, hoping he never returns. When Reggie meets other stray dogs, Bug (Jamie Foxx), Maggie (Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Park), he is convinced by them that his owner Doug does like care for him and instead deliberately and intentionally abandons him. The dogs devise a cunning plan to get revenge on Reggie’s owner, changing his life forever.
Firstly, the essential thing to highlight is that this isn’t a children’s movie; worrying enough, no marketing attempts have been made to make this apparent. The poster shows two cute dogs, one a Border Terrier with a red bandana around his neck, and the other is a black and white Boston Terrier with big pointed ears, which would appeal to any endearing animal lovers or children. But, for most of this film, it does hint that the ideas and themes were written by kids who might find dogs pooping and running across water sprinklers funny. Which it is, but add a big dollop of adult immaturity and lots of silly sex jokes that don’t land, and we now have a movie. I think I half-laughed maybe three or four times throughout the entirety, and that is being generous. These types of adult humour comedies have been done before with a rude teddy bear in ‘Ted’ or countless explicit talking grocery products in ‘Sausage Party.’ And even then, they were somewhat entertaining until the novelty of talking bears and food items started to wear off. When we suddenly realised that we were laughing at a talking sausage which slowly began to creep up on our sanity.
Call me old fashioned, but I do not find talking dogs that use vulgarity and urinate on each other funny, and that, unfortunately, is the reoccurring skit continuously. No attempts are made to make a funny and appealable original comedy. In contrast, as an adult audience, we are expected to laugh at dogs eating magic mushrooms in a forest and then killing a family of rabbits as they hallucinate. It’s just tiresome to think that the level of creativity and cleverness was non-existent during the development of this project. To put it a little politely, the whole movie’s plot is geared towards our main dog (Character), Reggie, and his intention of amputating his owner’s genitalia with his mouth. Nothing stands out even remotely when advertising the film as a laugh-out funny film.
Unfortunately, money talks in the movie-making industry and it is disappointing to see such incredible talent making poor choices when choosing their acting roles. In this movie alone, Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx voices a dog called Pug that loves to have sex, particularly with an old battered worn-out living room couch down a dodgy alleyway called Delilah, (voiced by four-time Emmy nominated actress Sofía Vergara). I understand actors who want to broaden their horizons when dabbling into different film genres, but I question the necessity of it. I highly doubt four-time Emmy award winner Will Farrell decided to be involved in this production for the plot, and realistically he saw the dollar signs.
Sadly it is such a realism today; no attempt is made to potentially develop and experiment with different resources surrounding these talented actors. Instead, the outcome is to be in a movie about dogs with giant penises. Famously, now-retired actor Daniel Day-Lewis carefully chose and studied his roles to perfection before beginning production. That’s the kind of commitment which movie lovers like myself admire and appreciate; the dedication given does not go unnoticed when talent is recognised. Recently, Robert Downey Jr, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt took a $4 Million pay cut to work with Christopher Nolan on Oppenheimer; that level of value towards a person’s craft is commendable.
It would be different if ‘Strays’ attempted to create and be original when devising a script centred around foul-mouth-talking dogs. But instead, the production team were undoubtedly barking up the wrong tree by thinking dogs pooping simultaneously in a dog pound prison cell would be hilarious for grown adults. Paws-itively speaking, avoid this garbage because it is very ruff.