May contain spoilers.
There are already a handful of films that ask “If dogs could talk, what would they say?” But no other film has begged the question, “If a dog has been wronged, what would they do?”
Released by Universal Pictures, “Strays” is a live-action CGI hybrid comedy film about a Border Terrier named Reggie who is abandoned in a town three hours away from home by his abusive owner Doug. After realizing that he was never loved by Doug despite his best efforts, Reggie begins his pursuit of revenge with the help of a street-smart stray named Bug, a Boston Terrier, a neglected Australian Shepherd named Maggie, and a therapy dog Hunter, a Great Dane.
Given its R-16 rating, “Strays” is definitely not for kids and those easily offended by sex jokes, evident drug usage, and foul language. Trust me, there are a lot of them. But don’t let that knowledge discourage you. Raunchy comedies are often a hit-or-miss but I would say that this is definitely a must-see! The jokes were legitimately hilarious and I, along with all the others in the theater, kept laughing loudly throughout the film. Even if it isn’t your type of humor, you can’t help but be charmed by them precisely because they were being told by these adorable beady-eyed canines. It’s even funnier when you’re a dog owner, able to relate to all the gags about the interesting quirks of dogs, such as peeing on things to mark them, humping couches, being afraid of fireworks, and hating postal workers with their whole being.
The cast did such an amazing job too lending their voices to the dogs and giving them their distinct personalities. Will Ferrell gave Reggie that wide-eyed wonderment that made him so lovable while Jaime Foxx exuded fierceness with Bug. Even Isla Fisher and Randall Park gave notable performances as spunky Maggie and meek Hunter. And credit must be given to Will Forte who portrayed the nasty, washed-up human owner Doug in making the audience hate him and root for his brutal downfall.
But underneath all the crude jokes, what “Strays” has is a lot of heart, with a running theme of friendship, love, and recognizing one’s self-worth. It makes you aware of just how easily and wholly a dog can pledge their loyalty to their human and the lasting effect of being betrayed. Through the film’s effective storytelling, it teaches a valuable lesson about recognizing abuse, that you don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love, and—above all—that you are never alone.
I highly recommend fellow dog lovers and owners to watch “Strays.” Not only will your belly ache from laughing out loud but it’ll also make you appreciate your dogs even more.
“Strays” premiers in theaters nationwide on September 13, 2023. It is rated R-16 by the MTRCB.
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