A scene from ‘Strays’ courtesy of Universal Pictures
Strays is a doggy comedy for mature audiences, featuring a foursome on the road to dignity on their terms.
When people anthropomorphize things, particularly cute animals and pets, they tend to make them sweet and somewhat stupid, because that makes it easier to maintain superiority over them. But if the furry creatures have been paying attention, their personalities may vary as much as a human’s. Consequently, some may be kind and mild-mannered, but others may be vulgar or rude, and it’s playing with these possibilities that really holds the potential for humour. Plus, the commentary on their day-to-day routine can be very entertaining as humans predict their reactions to the mundane and unusual. In Strays, a group of dogs bond on a life-changing journey.
Before Reggie (Will Ferrell) was forced to make the streets his home, he lived with Doug (Will Forte), a lazy ne’er-do-well who would be a contender for worst dog owner. Strictly a house dog up to now, Reggie is lucky enough to run into Bug (Jamie Foxx), who offers to show the newbie the ropes. He also introduces Reggie to a couple dogs who aren’t exactly strays, but they aren’t living their best lives either: Hunter (Randall Park), a trained-police-dog-turned-therapy-animal who must always wear a cone, and Maggie (Isla Fisher), who’s recently been replaced by a younger, smaller pooch. With nothing left to lose and feeling very agreeable after a bit of a bender, they all agree to join Reggie on his journey to regain his self-respect.
It must first be said this is not a movie for kids or anyone easily offended. Bug is incredibly vulgar with a mouth that far exceeds his stature, which is in substantial contrast to Reggie’s politeness. Maggie and Hunter are more tempered, though there’s palpable sexual tension between the pair of “friends” that leads to discussions regarding the true meaning of “doggy style.” Much of the comedy is crass yet hilarious, even though they repeatedly resort to toilet humour – literally using urine and feces as a punchline without it always being abhorrent. Conversely, the only truly off-putting scene is one that mimics a sexual assault, though the emotions it raises are also applicable within the moment.
Perhaps it was easier since they weren’t on screen and they were represented by adorable K9s, but all the voice actors go full-tilt with the NSFW content. To that end, it would be interesting to know how many takes were required for certain scenes. Ferrell and Foxx play really well off each other, displaying great comedic chemistry that extends to Fisher and Park. The film is filled with cameos and countless dog breeds, though it’s difficult to believe some of those purebreds would ever be found on the street or in the pound. Nonetheless, the voices match well with their canine counterparts in all instances to make a movie that simultaneously offends and delights.
Director: Josh Greenbaum
Starring: Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx and Isla Fisher
‘Strays’ are cute enough to be offensively funny – Digital Journal
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