“Strays” is about 90 minutes long, but if you removed every f-word and reference to genitals and their various properties and functions it would be about ten minutes long, and most of the remainder would be the characters’ mushroom-inspired hallucinations resulting in the fatal mauling of a bunny.
Those characters are dogs, with the voices of Will Ferrell as the ever-cheerful Reggie, Jamie Foxx as the street -smart Bug, Randall Park as the shy Hunter, and Isla Fisher as the olfactory-gifted Maggie. If you think hearing dogs talk dirty is hilarious, then this is your movie, because that’s pretty much all there is.
Reggie is so devoted to his horrifically abusive owner Doug (Will Forte) that he insists that he is loved and cared for. Doug despises Reggie and kept the dog only as revenge on his girlfriend for leaving him. He spends all day looking at porn and smoking weed. When he is evicted, Doug keeps trying to get rid of Reggie by driving far away and throwing the dog out of the truck. But Reggie thinks it is a game and keeps finding his way back home. Finally, Doug drives far enough from home that Reggie is lost.
Then he meets Bug, who tells him that life is much better as a stray. Bug introduces him to Hunter, a support dog in a hospice, and Maggie, whose owner prefers her newer, cuter dog. Reggie is so angry when he learns that Doug did not love him that he is determined to go back home and bite off Doug’s favorite body part, the one he spends so much time with in front of his laptop.
And so the four friends go on a journey, where they have various adventures and encounters. They even run into two of the stars of the vastly better dog movie, “A Dog’s Journey,” Dennis Quaid (as himself) and Josh Gad (as “narrator dog,” a joke which might be funny if it wasn’t so distasteful to see him trashing his earlier film).
The humor of hearing animals use four-letter words wears thin quickly, the gestures toward lessons about friendship and connection are less than half-hearted, more like 16th-hearted, and the resolution is worse than distasteful, with a superfluous mid-credit scene just to hammer in a “joke” about severe disfigurement. Overall, it lurches from gross to dull, not meriting the attention of humans or canines.
Parents should know that this movie is non-stop strong and crude language, sexual references, and potty humor.
Family discussion: Why was Hunter shy about sharing his feelings with Maggie? Why did he like the cone?
If you like this, try: “A Dog’s Journey,” “Homeward Bound,” and “Hotel for Dogs”
Originally published at https://moviemom.com.