‘…Strays tries too hard to be edgy without nailing enough actual jokes…Josh Greenbaum’s film aims at something scattershot and scatological, but ends up feeling like something of a dog’s dinner…’

Every fall, there’s a gap in the market for a low-brow, foul-mouthed, last-gasp of summer comedy; that’s a slot that’s brought us Superbad and Pineapple Express, and even the UK market was in thrall to local brand The Inbetweeners. It’s a tradition that the pandemic seemed to assail, and this year’s entry in the stoner stakes, Strays, didn’t get thrown a bone at the box office, making $30 million on a $46 million budget to date. Ancillary markets used to take up the slack on projects like this, but with purchase option iTunes seemingly going the way of DVD and VHS, then licencing for streaming is unlikely to make Strays a hit.

Strays has all the emphasis on drugs, excrement and genitals that you might expect from a stoner film, but with a twist; the main characters are all dogs and the intention is to parody doggie movies like Marley and Me or A Dog’s Purpose. These films tend to be seen by casual cinemagoers that just want to see canines in a positive light on the big screen; Strays ups the ante by doubling-down on the aspects of doggie life that we don’t usually see. It’s a parody, with Phil Miller and Christopher Lord amongst the producers, but what’s the point of making a parody of the kind of wholesome film that teenage cinemagoers skip anyway?

Reggie (voiced appealingly by Will Ferrell) has a dog’s life. He’s a cute Border Terrier with an upbeat attitude, despite the fact that his owner Doug (Will Forte) clearly doesn’t care about him; loser Doug only cares about himself, his bong, and his marathon self-abuse/porn sessions. After Reggie accidentally smashes Doug’s precious, over-used bong, Doug wants rid of Reggie and cruelly abandons the little mite far from home, but Reggie hooks up with a gang of stray dogs who make him realise that he’s been a victim. With this in mind, Reggie forms a new personal development goal; to take an incredible journey to get back to his owner and to bite his genitals off…

‘It’s like a f****ing dog movie in here,’ says Doug, and he’s right in a way; there are copious amounts of on-screen humping and more on-screen poop than the Capitol riots. The underlying message is ‘You are not alone’ and that’s fine, but something never quite matches up between the cute CGI talking dogs and the trash-talking celebs (Randall Park, Isla Fisher, Jamie Foxx) on the soundtrack. There’s a couple of sketches that work, one about narrator dogs who tell their owners’ stories, another about sensitivity to firework noise, but Strays tries too hard to be edgy without nailing enough actual jokes.

Even a Dennis Quaid cameo doesn’t quite land despite three repeats; Josh Greenbaum’s film aims at something scattershot and scatological, but ends up feeling like something of a dog’s dinner. And Lord and Miller, once hailed as the new comic geniuses of our time, need to stop re-treading the severed dick routine from 21 Jump Street; that was over a decade ago and it’s getting old. Back in the days before streaming, bad language and rude humour gave cinema an edge over home entertainment, but there’s plenty of potty-mouthed humour on streaming these days, and Strays doesn’t have enough of a USP to land with dog-loving audiences.



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  1. They spent $46 million on this? I’m guessing that’s paying for star voices because otherwise I don’t get it. That money would buy a lot of kibbles.

    Love dogs, mostly hate dog movies. I think that actually makes sense.

    Capitol riots

    • Thanks for the typo! I don’t understand the budgets these days. $200 to $350 million for films with no locations, just green screen studios and VO? How can this cost more than sending cast and crew to locations? And I think people who love dogs prefer actual dogs to CGI dogs.

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