Have you ever wondered what it’d be like if your dog could talk? Well, considering the shenanigans these dogs get up to in Strays… it might just be for the best. Directed by Josh Greenbaum and written by Dan Perrault, the R-rated live action talking dog comedy that none of us knew we needed is finally in theaters. This movie aims to be the penultimate dog-movie, overshadowing its predecessors of the same genre using biting commentary and satire—even referencing the hoaky tendencies of movies like Marley & Me and A Dog’s Purpose. While it plays more like an adventure comedy, similar to Homeward Bound, it is considerably raunchier than most other films of this premise but boasts a sweet and touching script that’ll tug on the heartstrings of any dog owner watching.
Will Ferrell and his adorable costar Sophie teamed up to play Reggie in Strays (2023)
The film follows Reggie (Will Ferrell), a border terrier who happens to belong to an awfully abusive owner named Doug (Will Forte). Long since used to name-calling and neglect, Reggie still loves Doug... even though the feelings definitely aren't mutual. After Reggie accidentally knocks over Doug's most prized possession (which may or may not be his bong), Doug abandons Reggie in the middle of the big city, hoping to finally be rid of Reggie for good. Alone in the streets, Reggie encounters other dogs who’ve also been abandoned. These strays team up in order to exact revenge on Doug for leaving Reggie behind and being an awful human.
This movie had a lot of heart. The story is very neatly trimmed and well written. Every setup has a payoff, every character has a fully rounded arc and everybody gets their own form of catharsis by the film’s end—audiences included. Will Ferrell’s Reggie is naive, precious and slightly delusional, believing Doug must love him and that their love just looked different than the standard definition. Reggie’s arc does well in exhibiting the real effects an abusive relationship can have on somebody, which deepens this character rather than leaving Reggie to be animated by the film’s premise alone. In the same regard, Jamie Foxx’s Bug is equally as personified. In fact, how his backstory influences who he is when we meet him in the streets is undoubtedly the most emotional of all.
Bug (Jamie Foxx), Reggie (Will Ferrell), Maggie (Isla Fisher) & Hunter (Randall Park) in Strays
Although Ferrell’s performance as Reggie remains the central thread of the film, the show is inarguably stolen by Jamie Foxx. Bug, a small Boston Terrier with a lot of attitude, is Reggie’s guide to being a stray once Doug goes home without him. Bug also happens to be hilariously anti-human and shows Reggie the pros of living without an owner. He introduces Reggie to his other stray friends, Maggie (Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Clark) who share a deep but unspoken sexual tension. Strays definitely deserves its R rating, which might just stand for Raunchiest movie we’ve seen all year. Although, we did see Jennifer Lawrence throw down with a bunch of teenagers while completely naked in No Hard Feelings.
Strays pulls no punches in its humour, taking dog-jokes to the absolute maximum while still leaving room for some heart. Despite its emotion, this is definitely a late night raunchy comedy a la Sausage Party. Expect a lot of jokes about sex, drugs, penises and, of course, dogs… as well as their penises. This movie is plenty of fun if you know what you’re heading into. If you aren’t a fan of films where you might catch three squirrels having sex in a tree, then Strays might not be for you.
We weren’t exactly dying of laughter in the theater (I’d qualify this movie as more of a chuckler) but the best parts of the film seem to lie in the drama. Some other reviews and criticisms vocalized how they’d wished there was more heart to this movie, which I personally thought it had plenty. Remember… this is a comedy, not a drama. But what we can all agree on is that the movie excels when touching on the characters' emotions and how each dog grows throughout the runtime. This is why audiences will feel so satisfied by the end.
Do you have to watch Strays in theaters? Not necessarily. The best part about watching a movie like this in the theater is being surrounded by like-minded viewers who can laugh along with you. But ultimately, this movie can definitely be watched at home while enjoying a late night smoke or having a nightcap. This might be one of my favourite movies of the year solely based off the premise alone. Thankfully Strays combines racy and suggestive comedy with an adventurous quest to create a heartfelt movie that’ll encourage audiences to hug their puppies at home extra tight, call them good boys and girls and may even persuade people to go out and adopt a few strays of their own.