By Megan Bianco
Josh Greenbaum’s Strays is a raunchy comedy that almost has something for everybody.
The crude/gross humor is for viewers who appreciated Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon’s Sausage Party (2016), the general concept of Fletcher Markle’s The Amazing Journey (1963), Duwayne Dunham’s Homeward Bound (1993), and the (well, almost) wholesomeness of Dean Fleischer Camp’s Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2021).
Strays is exactly what you expect from the director of something ridiculous like Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021).
In a rural, countryside neighborhood, a cute Border Terrier named Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell) is naïve and oblivious to the fact that his owner, Doug (Will Forte), is a burned-out loser who treats Reggie like trash.
Doug constantly ignores Reggie, yelling at him and looking for excuses to leave him outside. But in Reggie’s mind, Doug is irrationally “the greatest human ever.”
When Doug finally has had enough and abandons Reggie in the middle of town, three stray dogs—Bug (Jamie Foxx), Maggie (Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Park)—befriend him and try to help Reggie understand his homelife is actually worse than possibly being a stray.
Strays is 90 minutes of foul language, drug gags, potty humor and sex jokes. This much is expected and transparently obvious from the original trailer.
But there is also an underlying theme of a victim unaware of their abusive relationship throughout the movie, as Reggie is regularly and gently reminded that Doug is not a good person.
It’s pretty clever to use a cute, innocent animal as a metaphor for a serious subject, and it actually lands, for the most part.
Greenbaum and screenwriter Dan Perrault seem to care as much about sending an important message as they do about making audiences laugh.
Though this gives Strays some extra substance narrative-wise, the comedy will obviously be divisive for a lot of movie fans.
Naturally, some parents are wondering if a comedy centered on dogs is inappropriate enough to warrant an R rating. And I can safely say, yes, yes, it is. I’m not a prude, and I don’t have kids, but if it were me, I would probably wait until about eighth grade to consider allowing your child a viewing of Strays.
As for the adults, it really just depends on your taste in comedies.