STRAYS Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Josh Greenbaum
Stars: voices of Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Randall Park, Sofia Vergara, Rob Riggle, Josh Gad, Jimmy Tatro, Jamie Demetriou, Phil Morris, and Will Forte, Brett Gelman, Charity Cervantes, Jade Fernandez.
Four talking, foul-mouthed canines make their own incredible journey in this raucous, raunchy comedy from director Josh Greenbaum (Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar, etc). But far from being a family friendly comedy, Strays is definitely not a film for children.
Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell) is a perennially upbeat border terrier whose owner Doug (played by Will Forte) is a pot-smoking loser and chronic masturbator who blames him for all of his miseries and failings and for the way his life has turned out. He tries to get rid of him by playing a unique version of “fetch”. Each time Reggie returns with the ball, believing this to be a fun game, Doug swears, but each time Doug drives him further away from home Reggie always faithfully returns. Finally fed up with Reggie, Doug eventually leaves him in an alley in the big city of Atlanta.
Reggie is taken under the wing of the streetwise and belligerent Boston terrier Bug (voiced by Oscar winner Jamie Foxx) who schools him the lifestyle of a stray dog and surviving the mean streets. In turn he also introduces him to the Australian sheep dog Maggie (voiced by Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Park), a Great Dane and failed former police sniffer dog with his own issues.
Bug awakens Reggie to just how badly he was treated by Doug. Reggie is determined to make his way home to Doug and exact a cruel revenge on him, and he is accompanied by his three new friends. Along the way there are numerous debauched adventures that include humping some garden gnomes, urinating on each other to cement their relationship as PFFs, escaping from a dog pound, and eating some magic mushrooms.
Strays has been written by Dan Perrault (American Vandal, etc), who hails from a background in television, and he takes a rather simple premise and packs it with plenty of ribald humour as the four dogs swear a lot. There is also plenty of gross out humour here and some great visual gags, and some of the dialogue is actually laugh out loud funny. But some scenes come across as repetitive and overly long. The film serves up a mix of live animals and clever CGI effects that allow the dogs to look as though they are talking.
Greenbaum has assembled quite a solid cast to give voice to the dogs, but Foxx is a standout as the foul-mouthed Bug. Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Purpose, etc) contributes a brief self-effacing cameo, and there are also brief appearances from Brett Gellman and vocal contributions from Rob Riggle, Sofia Vergara and Josh Gad. Forte does a good job of making Doug a loathsome character.
It’s quite silly and juvenile and crude, but I enjoyed this rather potty mouthed comedy about dogs behaving badly.