When a dog suddenly finds himself a stray he teams with a pack of dogs that talk him into getting revenge on his abusive owner.
Over the past few years the amount of laugh out loud comedies that have been released in cinemas has been pretty low. It’s strange given that with the way the world is today what most people probably need to do is laugh – well now the time to laugh has come in the form of director Josh Greenbaum’s (Becoming Bond) brand new comedy Strays.
Now let’s get something out there straight away. Yes, Strays is a film about cute and fluffy dogs but no this certainly isn’t a film for kids. Think of the classic film Ted – well this is Ted with dogs and if you are an adult the humour is as funny as hell.
The film is told through the eyes of cute bundle of fluff Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell – Barbie) who has had the unfortunate experience of having to live with the totally disgusting loser, Doug (Will Forte – Nebraska). Doug hates Reggie and only kept him out of spite, in return though Reggie loves Doug no matter how much he mistreats him.
Tired of having the dog around Doug ends up dumping Reggie in the city and it is there that Reggie meets the street tough dog Bug (Jamie Foxx – Django Unchained). While he at first refuses to believe that he has been abandoned Bug soon convinces Reggie that he is in fact now a stray.
Angry at what has happened to him Reggie decides that he wants revenge. He wants to find his way back to Doug and bite off a certain part of his male anatomy. Bug decides that he wants to help Reggie with his plan and soon recruits two of his friends, failed Police Dog Hunter (Randall Park – The Interview) and the once-pampered-but-now-mistreated Maggie (Isla Fisher – Wedding Crashers), to help with the plan.
In some ways Strays is a pretty strange film. The film’s general tone and humour makes it the kind of stoner comedy that Kevin Smith (Clerks) would be proud to create but on the flipside if you scratch under the surface of the film Strays actually touches on some pretty important and relevant themes.
While the film never preaches to its audience it does actually show, in the form of the relationship between Doug and Reggie, how easily somebody can stay in an abusive relationship because of the mis-guided belief that they are loved by their partner. It also explores themes of depression and abandonment and how the introduction of good friends can change somebody’s life for the better.
Perhaps the biggest message that audiences will take away from this film though is to treat your pets right. Amongst all the laughter in Strays is the strong message that dogs have feelings and deserve to be treated a lot better than they are by some humans. That in itself is a message that everybody needs to hear.
Like already mentioned though those themes are present and will sink in to its audience but above all it is easy to see that Greenbaum and his screenwriter, Dan Perrault (American Vandal), just wanted to deliver a fun movie for cinema goers and that is exactly what they do with Strays.
While the film might not be laugh a minute like Ted or Kevin Smith’s early work it does have its moment and there are times where you will certainly laugh out loud while you are watching it. Having said that though audiences should also be aware that most of the laughs come from toilet humour – so if you are expecting something high-brow then you may want to look elsewhere.
Perhaps the smartest scene of Strays though is actually a parody scene where the film pokes fun of that genre of films known as ‘narrator dog films.’ The twist that happens during the narrator dog scene here is a stroke of genius… as is the bunny scene (don’t worry you’ll understand that reference once you have seen the film).
The voice casting of Strays is also spot on. Randall Park does a great job bringing to life the anxiety and fears of Hunter while Will Ferrell and Isla Fisher have a lot of fun with the comedy they get to deliver for Reggie and Maggie. The scene-stealer here though is Jamie Foxx who seems to be channelling his character (we definitely can’t print the name here) from Horrible Bosses as he portrays the street-tough Bug.
While Strays may not be a film for everyone if you love stoner humour and being made laugh at things you shouldn’t then it is certainly worth a look. Strays will surprise you with some of the important messages it portrays to its audience but above all it will make you laugh.