When I saw the first trailer for “Strays” I really wanted to see it. First, nothing about it seemed like the typical dog movie. Second, with Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx voicing two of the main characters, I knew it would likely be incredibly funny. Both actors are also skilled performers. After watching the film, I found it hilarious and surprising, full of events I didn’t expect and situations that made me laugh out loud.
“Strays” is a comedy film directed by Josh Greenbaum and written by Dan Perrault. In the film, naive and optimistic Border Terrier Reggie (Will Ferrell), is abandoned on the mean city streets by his lowlife owner Doug (Will Forte). Lost and alone, he is rescued by a fast talking Boston Terrier Bug (Jamie Foxx) who teaches him how to be a stray. With the help of Bug’s pals, Australian Shepherd Maggie (Isla Fisher) who is sidelined by her owner for a puppy and anxious Great Dane Hunter (Randall Park), Reggie realizes his relationship with Doug was toxic. The group hatch a plan and embark on an epic adventure to help Reggie find his way home and make Doug pay.
This is hands down the funniest dog movie I’ve ever seen. Between the situations the dogs find themselves in, like humping lawn ornaments and couches to getting stoned on wild mushrooms, this film is full of graphic and raunchy humor that will make you laugh out loud. The writers also don’t even take themselves seriously, poking fun at dog movies in general. The movie has tons of parodies of the genre that are hilarious. There are quite a few gross dog moments in the movie but some of these are the funniest scenes. Many of the scenarios are ridiculous but that is the charm and comedy of the film.
Part of the reason that the film is so hilarious is the way the dogs bond. As the group becomes friends, we get to see more of their personalities and their friendship. Even though the movie features dogs, it is also all about the love of friends. The four dogs help each other throughout the film, getting themselves out of one scrape after another, including a fright with fireworks. While the scenes are funny, they are also incredibly heartwarming. Anyone who loves dogs will fall in love with these characters. And if you are a dog lover, you will absolutely cheer the ending.
The other reason the movie is so funny is the contrast between Reggie’s background and Bug’s. Both have had completely different experiences with humans and while there are some similarities, it is how each responds that creates the comedy of the movie. Bug is fast talking and foul mouthed, trying to embrace his freedom. He pretends he doesn’t need the others but he’s lonelier than he acts. Reggie’s innocence about the world allows even more laughs. It also is even funnier when he realizes how Doug has been treating him and decides to get revenge. The personalities of the pair along with Maggie, smart and talented and anxious Hunter, makes for one fun movie.
Jamie Foxx is incredibly good as Bug, tough and yet vulnerable. His voice acting infuses the Boston Terrier with spunk and grit. He is brilliant with humor as Bug, foul mouthed but caring, takes care of his pack. Will Ferrell is restrained and fantastic as Reggie. He skillfully gives a character who’s innocence adds to the hilarious nature of the movie. His introduction to the world is how the audience connects to the characters and Will Ferrell has the perfect balance in his scenes of sweetness and humor. The dynamic between the two highlights their friendship. Isla Fisher is smart and raunchy as Maggie, bold and badass. Randall Park as Hunter is sweet, anxious and full of surprising depth. The cast is fantastic.
While there are surprises in the movie, people or events, the comedy itself is not breaking any new ground. Much of the humor relies on language that we wouldn’t expect to hear, graphic or gross comedy that the writers rely on far too much. While I like the twist on dog films, there are still some familiar tropes there as well. The dog’s bonding and the friendship is what you would expect to see in any buddy comedy movie. The epic journey is full of funny scenes but relies on the audience being familiar with dogs or dog lovers. Despite that, I found it fun and the buddy comedy elements really do work well.
If you love Jamie Foxx, Will Ferrell and dogs, you will find this the funniest dog movie you have ever seen. They are fantastic together and the movie is full of unexpected moments that will make you laugh out loud. While it isn’t a new type of comedy, very much an odd couple style of movie, the raunchy scenes are fun and I love that it parodies other dog films. This is one film both dog lovers and families will love.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 humps