If you’re looking for a film that will paws-itively send you home with lots of laughs, Universal Pictures’ new comedy Strays is for you.
Directed by Josh Greenbaum, Strays follows Reggie (played by Will Ferrell) whose owner, Doug (Will Forte), isn’t the fondest of owning a furry friend. Doug does everything in his power to get rid of Reggie, and eventually the pup finds himself stranded in the middle of a big city. Along the way, he meets Bug (Jamie Foxx) who introduces him to Maggie (Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Park). Together, the quartet goes on an epic adventure to get Reggie home to ruff(le) a little more than Doug’s metaphorical feathers.
Instead of being a film that will tear at your heartstrings like other animal (namely dog focused) films do, Strays is a direct antithesis, and that’s what makes it funny. If you’re a dog owner, you’re probably conditioned from watching films where the pup believes the owner doesn’t love or care about them, but in the end that’s proven false and then some. In Strays‘ case, Doug is a genuinely bad owner, and it gives power to the pups where they finally get their revenge on horrible humans. How’s that for barking up the wrong tree?
Strays is at its best feeding into some of the furry friend stereotypes by putting comedic relief into the voice-acting, specifically with a Doberman Pinscher, a Rottweiler, Maggie (an Australian Shepherd), and a Pomeranian. Elsewhere, they are seen humping things, “marking” their territory, and constantly thinking about their squeaky toys (ya know, the simple things in life.) Some of the humor is so absurd it’s ridiculous, but somehow it works? Reggie is a naïve, sweet Border Terrier that is a little too innocent for his own good, as evident in his “game” he plays with Doug where Doug will drive them somewhere far away, throw the tennis ball and make Reggie fetch it, then drive away. Reggie, fiercely loyal to his owner, picks up the ball and brings it all the way home, leading Doug to let out an exasperated “f*ck!” every time. But Reggie just thinks that means he won the game.
When Reggie crosses paths with Bug, a couch-humping, f-bomb dropping Boston Terrier, they’re complete opposites, but that’s what makes Bug the best sidekick. Bug introduces Reggie to Maggie, who is not only incredibly patient and kind, she has a snout that can rival a hunter dog. Speaking of hunters, Hunter is the complete opposite — a giant Great Dane who spends his days as an emotional support animal to the elderly.
Beyond the ragtag group’s raunchy humor, penis jokes galore, and a head-scratching cameo from Dennis Quaid — a somewhat deeper message lies. Writer Dan Perrault uses the plot to open a discussion about toxic relationships, one drilled all the way home within Reggie and Doug. Over the course of the film, Reggie finds himself trying to rationalize their relationship. Ultimately, though, he goes back to his one goal — to bite Doug’s dick off.
Strays refreshes a genre of comedy that has largely seen the short end of the stick in recent years. Unlike with Marmaduke, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and Beethoven, it’s best to leave the kids at home for this one. Maybe take a page out of Doug’s book and have them go fetch and f– ah, never mind.