THE DOG DAYS AREN’T QUITE OVER YET – STRAYS MOVIE REVIEW (2023)
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like if your dog could talk? Well, considering the shenanigans these dogs get up to in Strays… it might just be for the best. Directed by Josh Greenbaum and written by Dan Perrault, the R-rated live-action talking dog comedy that none of us knew we needed is finally in theaters. This movie aims to be the penultimate dog-movie, overshadowing its predecessors of the same genre using biting commentary and satire—even referencing the hoaky tendencies of movies like Marley & Me and A Dog’s Purpose. While it plays more like an adventure comedy, similar to Homeward Bound, it is considerably raunchier than most other films of this premise but boasts a sweet and touching script that’ll tug on the heartstrings of any dog owner watching.
The film follows Reggie (Will Ferrell), a puppy who happens to belong to an awfully abusive owner named Doug (Will Forte), after Doug abandons him in the hopes of finally being rid of the dog forever. Left alone in the city, Reggie encounters other dogs who’ve also been abandoned and the group team up in order to exact revenge on Doug for leaving Reggie behind and being a terrible dog owner. For now, we’ll leave the details of Reggie’s revenge plot under wraps. But just know… these dogs mean business.
This movie had a lot of heart. The story is very neatly trimmed and well written. Every setup has a payoff, every character has a fully rounded arc, and everybody gets their own form of catharsis by the film’s end—audiences included. Will Ferrell’s Reggie is naive, precious and slightly delusional, believing Doug must love him and that their love just looked different than the standard definition. Reggie’s arc does well in exhibiting the real effects an abusive relationship can have on somebody, which deepens this character rather than leaving Reggie to be animated by the film’s premise alone. In the same regard, Jamie Foxx’s Bug is equally as personified. In fact, how his backstory influences who he is when we meet him in the streets is undoubtedly the most touching of all.
aAlthough Ferrell’s performance as Reggie remains the central thread of the film, the show is inarguably stolen by Jamie Foxx. Bug, a small Boston Terrier with a lot of attitude, is Reggie’s guide to being a stray in the city after Doug abandons him. Bug, who is hilariously anti-human, shows Reggie the pros of being on his own. He introduces Reggie to his other stray friends, Maggie (Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Clark) who share a deep but unspoken sexual tension. Strays definitely deserves its R rating, which might just stand for raunchiest movie we’ve seen all year. Although, we did see Jennifer Lawrence throw down with a bunch of teenagers while completely naked in No Hard Feelings.
Strays pulls no punches in its humor, taking dog-jokes to the absolute maximum while still leaving room for some heart. This is definitely a late night raunchy comedy a la Sausage Party. Expect a lot of jokes about sex, drugs, penises and, of course, dogs… as well as their penises. This movie is plenty of fun if you know what you’re heading into. If you aren’t a fan of films where you might catch three squirrels having sex in a tree, then Strays might not be for you.
We weren’t exactly dying of laughter in the theater (I’d qualify this movie as more of a chuckler) but the best parts of the film seem to lie in the drama. Some other reviews and criticisms vocalized how they’d wished there was more heart to this movie, which I personally thought had plenty. Remember… this is a comedy, not a drama. But what we can all agree on is that the movie excels when touching on their emotions and how each dog grows throughout the runtime. This is why the audience feels satisfied by the end.
Do you have to watch Strays in theaters? Not necessarily. The best part about watching a movie like Strays in the theater is being surrounded by like-minded viewers who can laugh along with you. But ultimately, this movie can definitely be enjoyed at home while enjoying a late night smoke or having a nightcap. This might be one of our favorite movies of the year solely based off the premise alone, but thankfully Strays combines racy and suggestive comedy with an adventurous quest to create a heartfelt movie that’ll encourage audiences to hug their puppies at home extra tight, call them good boys and girls and might even persuade people to go out and save a few strays of their own.
Watch the trailer for Strays below
Universal Pictures releases Stray in theatres everywhere August 18, 2023
[Review by guest blogger Jurgen Sosa]