STRAYS review by Mark Walters – Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx are talking dogs in this raunchy comedy

STRAYS review by Mark Walters – Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx are talking dogs in this raunchy comedy

It seems like “talking dog” movies are almost a genre within themselves, as almost every year we get a new one, whether it’s in live action or animated form. The new movie STRAYS takes the idea of dogs going on an adventure, complete with celebrity voices and celebrity cameos, only pushing the content in a very R-rated direction. This is NOT a movie for kids, but for those with the right sense of humor, it can be a rather satisfying comedy experience.

Reggie (Will Ferrell) is a cute little dog who sadly finds himself in the care of Doug (Will Forte), who clearly doesn’t love him and doesn’t want him around. But Reggie has the misconception that Doug’s behavior is just a sort of playful game. When Doug finally decides he’s had enough, he takes Reggie to the middle of nowhere and leaves him. Reggie meets Bug (Jamie Foxx), Maggie (Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Park), a trio of stray dogs who take him in as a friend, and help him understand that Doug is not the friend Reggie thinks he is. Once Reggie figures this new reality out, he decides he has a new mission, to find his way home to Doug, and bite his former master’s penis off. The group of pooches begin their quest, and along the way face off with other animals and humans, but find an important bond with each other… but can Reggie find the courage to do what he feels compelled to do?

While STRAYS is intended to be a raunchy laugh riot for audiences ready to laugh, it also has a surprising amount and heart and even a few emotional moments that give is an unexpected sophistication amidst the outrageous moments. There are goof themes present about the important of friendship, honesty, and standing up for yourself. But let’s face it, folks going to see this movie are probably more interested in the gross out humor, and there’s definitely plenty of that present. This is a film that reminds us how cute and filled with personality different dog breeds can be, but doesn’t shy away from the the more taboo aspects of dog life. Pooping, peeing, doggie sex and hazardous eating habits are all covered, often with hilarious results.

The voice cast is terrific here, with Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx really shining in their respective roles. I believe they recorded their dialogue in the same room talking to each other, and their chemistry is very solid and endearing. I can’t imagine anyone else doing these particular voices after seeing this film, they very much own these characters. Isla Fisher and Randall Park are also great as the awkward dog pals accompanying Reggie and Bug on these adventures, with Randall Park progressively more and more funny as the awkward Great Dane wearing a protective cone, which is an allegory for his own insecurity. Will Forte really digs in with his role as the horrible Doug, a cartoonish but effective character you know should never own a dog, much less anything he’s meant to care for. Forte is a genuinely nice man, but he doesn’t shy away from playing Doug as nasty as possible, to where the audience will very much want to see Reggie carry out his vengeful mission. Rob Riggle and Josh Gad lend their voices to smaller supporting roles, but make the most of their scenes.

I also really enjoyed how well the talking mouths were handled with the dogs, as it’s done so well I sometimes had to remind myself that I wasn’t actually watching talking animals… the CGI used is used quite well. Director Josh Greenbaum does a great job with the pacing of the film, which clocks in at a brisk 93 minutes and never feels boring or tedious. The humor is sharp and fast, and the jokes land strong in almost every scene. STRAYS is a fun breath of fresh air in a summer of reboots and sequels, or bloated blockbuster fare. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a while, and a film that knows exactly what it is and never tries to be anything more. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing this again, or at the very least seeing more adventures with these furry friends. If you need a good laugh, STRAYS is packed with plenty.

STRAYS opens August 18, 2023

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.