• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

STRAYS – Comedy’s Gone to the Dogs!

ByTaylor Carlson

Aug 17, 2023

STRAYS is directed by Josh Greenbaum. The movie stars Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Randall Park, Brett Gelman, Will Forte, Rob Riggle, Josh Gad, and Sofia Vergara.

Reggie is a dog owned by sadistic, heartless owner Doug; he kept the dog simply to keep it out of the hands of his girlfriend when she left him and moved out. Ever the optimist, Reggie doesn’t realize he’s constantly being abused. When Doug’s attempts to get rid of Reggie land him in unfamiliar territory, he must team up with other dogs to get home… and get his revenge on Doug for the mistreatment he suffered. But the pack of strays will have to contend with many obstacles on their journey together.

Let’s get this out of the way from the get-go. STRAYS is unabashedly crude and juvenile. The film easily earns its R rating; despite the presence of talking dogs, you’ll definitely want to leave the kids at home. Despite its crudity and vulgarity, however, STRAYS has a heart and will win over dog owners and lovers. At times it can’t resist going for the all-too-obvious low-brow toilet jokes, but this potty-mouthed farce, which clocks in at a mere 90 minutes, actually fares better than you might expect.

STRAYS actually gets together a surprisingly solid cast, including Will Ferrell in a fantastic voiceover role as Reggie, the world’s most blindly optimistic dog who has no idea his owner is abusive. He and street-smart human-hating pooch Bug, voiced by Jamie Foxx, make great foils for one another, and the sequences between these two stand out as a highlight. While the film mainly focuses on a quartet of traveling dogs, there are plenty of guest voices and celebrity cameos, though these thankfully don’t overshadow the work of Ferrell and Foxx. Human Doug is one of the most unsympathetic characters in any film of recent memory, but similar to that bumbling pair of burglars from HOME ALONE, it makes it all the satisfying that our heroes are seeking their comeuppance.

Seeing the world from a dog’s perspective is nothing new, but STRAYS scores points for the way it approaches this material. Have you ever had a dog who freaks out when fireworks go off? There’s a sequence for that here. Has your dog ever seemed confused by your actions, unsure of what you’re doing? That’s here too. Do you think movies with “narrator dogs” are overdone? Yeah, even that gets lampooned here. For being as potty-mouthed and R-rated as it is, STRAYS has a surprisingly big heart, and actually pulls this premise off better than a lot of the more “serious” dog-centric movies of recent years.

A comedy demands a razor-sharp, lightning-fast script, and STRAYS has one. I won’t deny how silly and juvenile the film is at times; this may be a record for the most F-bombs I’ve seen dropped in any film of recent years. But when the dialogue and the situations are this hilarious, you won’t mind the crudity or the vulgarity. You’ll be laughing yourself silly for 90 minutes; the shorter run time is a welcomed reprieve from the avalanche of two and three-hour films we’ve been getting in greater quantities lately.

I won’t deny that the movie has its shortcomings, however. It unfortunately falls victim to the biggest problem of all “talking dog” movies, comedic or otherwise: Poop jokes. If this gets mentioned periodically I don’t really have a problem with it; it’s something dogs do. But this movie takes it too far with one sequence revolving around. And it’s everywhere. This is a new challenge out there to filmmakers: Could we possibly make a dog-centric movie that doesn’t have a single poop joke in it? I’m still waiting.

STRAYS is vulgar. Crude. At times it’s outright disgusting. But it’s got a heart and surprisingly succeeds at most of what it sets out to do. It’s definitely not for kids, but if you can take the harsh language and the awkward situations, you’ll see there’s plenty beneath the surface and it’s a better movie than you might initially expect. Recommended.

By Taylor Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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