Rating: R, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and drug use
Release Date: August 18, 2023
Jeanne: After just a few short moments of watching Doug (Will Forte) scream obscenities at his sweet little Border Terrier named Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell), it’s abundantly clear why STRAYS is rated “R”. Reggie’s loser owner cheats on his girlfriend, doesn’t work, smokes weed all day --- and masturbates when he isn’t smoking. Plus, he hates Reggie!
Poor pup believes Doug is the greatest, even though his “favorite game” is Doug driving him to the middle of nowhere and leaving him behind. Unfortunately for Reggie, he always manages to find his way back to this misanthrope, only to be abandoned again and again. But when Doug drives Reggie three hours from home and leaves him in the rundown section of a big city, Reggie knows it’s no longer a game.
Thankfully, Bug (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a street-smart Boston Terrier, comes to the rescue and takes Reggie under his wing. At the local dog park, Bug introduces Reggie to Maggie (voiced by Isla Fisher), an Australian Shepherd, and Hunter (voiced by Randall Park), a Great Dane, who is also a therapy dog with a very large cone around his head. When they hear Reggie’s tail --- er, tale --- of woe, the foursome decides to make the journey back to Doug so Reggie can exact his revenge.
Yes, STRAYS is laugh-out-loud funny, but it is also laced with a good amount of pathos. Many may object to the scenes of abuse, but trust me, these four canines can handle themselves, including encounters with a hawk, being locked up in a shelter and surviving a batch of psychedelic mushrooms.
Ferrell, Foxx, Fisher and Park must have had a blast voicing the four doggie heroes. Their banter is joyful, mostly, and very entertaining. Forte’s Doug is gloriously despicable. You’d be hard pressed to find another actor who could play such a loathsome cad with complete gleeful abandon. Everyone hates him, so Doug’s last scene is especially fitting.
Directed by Josh Greenbaum with a well-crafted screenplay by Dan Perrault, STRAYS has its fair share of “ick” factor --- dog vomit, urination and poop --- so if one finds all of that abhorrent, take a pass. In the end, it’s a buddy movie starring dogs --- and it’s much better than expected.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!
David: Any movie that has Sofía Vergara in a supporting voice role as a sexy couch can’t be all bad. Actually, Dolores, the sofa in question, is a dilapidated piece of furniture that a certain Boston Terrier fancies for his humping pursuits. Bottom line: STRAYS is not bad at all and pretty entertaining.
The Boston Terrier is a three-year-old free spirit canine named Bug (voiced by Jamie Foxx) and he does have a penchant for Dolores. He also is a questionable influence on Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell), the two-year-old Border Terrier with a very bad owner.
“Very bad” is an understatement to describe Doug (Will Forte) as Reggie’s owner. First of all, Doug does not want anything to do with Reggie whom he kept to spite his ex-girlfriend. Even worse, Doug physically and verbally abuses Reggie, eventually driving the pooch hours away from their home to get rid of him. This turns out to be a blessing in disguise because Reggie meets Bug and they bond immediately. Moreover, Bug convinces Reggie that he deserves much better than Doug, and that being a free dog can be a terrific lifestyle.
Their adventures, together with a Great Dane named Hunter (voiced by Randall Park) and a savvy female Australian Shepherd named Maggie (voiced by Isla Fisher) with a superior sense of smell, are laced with profanity, bathroom humor and general yuck. But isn’t that what one would expect from a live-action, talking dog movie with a rare “R” rating?
STRAYS is, at times, hilarious. If you’re sensitive about multiple F-bombs being dropped along with allusions to sexual appendages, etc., you might want to stay away from this film. One redeeming factor is a wonderfully poignant sequence at the conclusion.
Otherwise, STRAYS lives up to its rating and is reasonably absorbing because we quickly come to care about these animals. Others in the supporting voice cast include Rob Riggle, Josh Gad and Brett Gelman.
The reality is that STRAYS provides 93 minutes of escape and a very satisfying act of revenge by Reggie.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!