‘Strays’ Review: A Film Only Fit for Summer’s Dog Days

Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx lend their voices to Strays, a scattershot, vulgar, and occasionally heartfelt take on the Homeward Bound-style film.

Does the prospect of Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Randall Park, and Isla Fisher cracking jokes about feces, penises of above-average size, and sex with lawn gnomes give you the giggles? Do you outright guffaw when you imagine them not as people but as dogs? If so, great news! Mid-August finally has a film for you, Strays.

Learning To Love Life Owner Free

Strays (Universal)
Image Credit: Chuck Zlotnick / Universal Pictures.

Reggie (Ferrell) has no idea that he belongs to one of the world’s worst humans, Doug (Will Forte). As one of the few people given anything to do in the film, Forte renders Doug as a bitter stoner whose biggest joys involve his favorite bong, cheating on his girlfriends, and constant masturbating. He attempts to rid himself of Reggie by driving the pooch places, sending him scurrying after a tennis ball, and taking off before the canine returns. Unfortunately for Dough, Reggie is too talented, loyal, and naïve not to find his way back…at least until Doug brings Reggie to a city hours away.

There, truly lost for the first time, Reggie encounters Bug (Foxx), a small-bodied but big-spirited (and mouthed) stray who takes the house dog under his wing. Soon the duo becomes a quartet as Maggie (Fisher) and Hunter (Park) join up. They both have homes, but their owners apparently give them long leashes–pun 100% intended. The story finally takes shape when Reggie realizes how awful his owner is. The team of canines decides to find their way back to the horrible human’s home so Reggie can castrate his betrayer via a dog bite.

Never Work With Animals or Children

Strays (Universal)
Image Credit: Chuck Zlotnick / Universal Pictures.

Strays resembles the 2019 journey comedy Good Boys in both humor and appearance. Despite neither director Josh Greenbaum nor screenwriter Dan Perrault having anything to do with that earlier film, they match Boys’ Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg’s take on cute things being brash, crass, and naively sweet in equal measure. Both feature small characters engaging in a chaotic quest that tests the limits of their bonds. Both often utilize an impressive string of four-letter words despite it being clear the characters don’t know nearly as much about what they’re talking about as their words would suggest.

Unfortunately, this kind of comedy can quickly turn stale. Yes, unexpected swearing is a time-honored gag. After the second or third bite of the apple, that sort of thing does tend to lose its flavor quickly. That’s where the voice performances make a difference. The dog quartet has good chemistry, but only Foxx sells the humor while lending Bug some dimension. The other three performers can’t manage to do the same.

Support from the likes of Rob Riggle as a rule-bound friendly police dog injects some more energy into the story. That said, Josh Gad essentially reprises his role from A Dog’s Purpose in Strays’ darkest, most surprising joke. Gad haters rejoice.

Yippee Yay or Yippee Nay?

Strays (Universal)
Image Credit: Chuck Zlotnick / Universal Pictures.

Enjoyment of Strays will depend on individual tastes more than most other films. It has four to five jokes, repeats them often, and the script occasionally does something unexpected. Viewers that have little or no tolerance for alternating sex and bodily excretions gags will not want to adopt this dog, even if it does know a few tricks.

Strays chases a ball into theatres beginning August 18.

Rating: 5.5/10 SPECS

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Tim Steven is a sad tomato, Tim Stevens is three miles of bad road. He’s also a therapist, staff writer and social media manager for The Spool, and a freelance writer with publications like ComicsVerse, Marvel.com, CC Magazine, and The New Paris Press. His work has been quoted in Psychology Today, The Atlantic, and MSN Ireland. Feel free to find him @UnGajje on Twitter or in a realm of pure imagination.