The latest dog movie, not for children though, Strays starring the voices of Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Park Randall, Josh Gad, Sofia Vergara, Harvey Guillen, Robb Riggle, Brett Gelman and Jamie Demetriou is an R-rated (R-16 in PH) live-action comedy that trails the misadventures of an abandoned Border Terrier who learned to survive on the streets along with his newfound pals while trying to find his way back home.
From the highly-successful Barbie, Will Ferrell takes off his CEO suit and lends voice to Reggie, a naïve optimistic Border Terrier who found genuine friendship on the streets with a fast-talking, foul-mouthed horny Boston Terrier named Bug (voiced by Oscar® winner Jamie Foxx), a smart Australian Shepherd named Maggie (Isla Fisher, Now You See Me) and Hunter (Randall Park, Always Be My Maybe), an anxious Great Dane – together, they hatch a plan and embark on an epic adventure to help Reggie find his way home and make his owner Doug (Will Forte) pay for abandoning him. Reggie believes he has the best life, and owner ever. Blinded by love, Reggie doesn’t see that Doug is repeatedly trying to ditch him. So, when Doug finally abandons Reggie on the streets during a game of “fetch and fuck,” Reggie doesn’t initially think that he has much in common with the stray dogs he meets.
Directed by Josh Greenbaum, Strays reinvents the dog movies we’re all used to while retaining what the world loves about dogs – on love, loyalty, and friendship. While the core of the adventure is Reggie and his hilarious, disgusting journey of redemption and triumph over an abusive owner, ultimately, it’s the bond of ride-or-die friendship that develops between Reggie and his fellow strays that gives the film it’s emotional bite.
Ferrell was immediately amused by the concept of an R-rated dog film, but it was the heart of it that hooked him. “I immediately loved that the premise emulated a Homeward Bound type of dog movie with a journey behind it, yet it’s filthy and R-rated,” Ferrell says. “I remember thinking it could be really great and could be something we’ve never seen before. The audaciousness of the premise and the sweet, earnest relationships between the dogs surprised me.”
Foxx connected with Bug’s canine-liberation ethos and hedonist world view. “He’s the friend that Reggie never knew he needed because Reggie has been burned by this blind commitment to a human who treats him like garbage. Bug’s got some battle scars, and he is the only one who can help Reggie survive on the streets. Strays is over-the-top funny and raunchy, but it also has a ton of heart. I think that’s what audiences will be drawn to when they see it,” says Foxx.
Fisher was drawn to Maggie because of the character’s fearlessness. “What I love about Maggie is that she is surrounded by neurotic male dogs and is certain of her own worth in the pack,” Fisher says. “She’s unapologetic, brave and willing to fight for what she believes in. I couldn’t imagine a better role model, canine or otherwise, and I’m proud to give voice to her.”
Strong as a mastiff and fast as a Whippet, the only thing Great Dane Hunter can’t handle is physical violence. Randall Park who voices Hunter Park immediately sparked to the film’s script and premise. “Hunter’s this big dopey Great Dane who just couldn’t cut it as a police dog, but he has the heart of a lion,” Park says. “He’s very unsure of himself at the beginning of this journey but comes into his own through the help of his fellow strays. He’s the perfect example of not judging a book by its cover.”
Once the dogs completed production on Strays, any animal who didn’t already have a permanent home with the trainers was found a loving one with screened individuals who would give their beloved new family member a fulfilling life. In fact, one of the dogs was adopted by director Josh Greenbaum. “When we brought in two adorable puppy Border Terriers to play young Reggie in an early scene of the film, it was made known to me that these dogs wouldn’t have a home after the shoot,” Greenbaum says. “So, I decided to adopt one of them and asked my kids to name him. They immediately said we’ve got to name him Reggie because he played Reggie in the movie. I came home after shooting the film, introduced Reggie to the family, and now I have Will Ferrell in my house.”
A dog film only for adults, rated R-16 by the local censors board, Strays is from Universal Pictures International and will open September 13, 2023, in cinemas nationwide.