by Hope Madden
Have you seen the trailer for Strays, the live action dog movie about a sweet mutt (voice by Will Farrell) abandoned by his terrible owner, Doug (Will Forte)? He’s taken in by other dogs off the leash who join him on a journey to return home and bite Doug’s dick off.
If that trailer did not make you laugh, you will not laugh during Strays.
If that trailer made you laugh, savor it, because it represents all the laughs to be found in the entirety of Strays. Unless you’re a huge, huge fan of couch humping and feces. If so, then by all means, nab a ticket.
Farrell’s Reggie is in a toxic relationship, and new friends Bug (Jamie Foxx), Maggie (Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Park) want him to see that he deserves better than Doug. And he deserves to bite the man’s dick off. So, it all becomes a sort of homicidal Homeward Bound, if you will, and that’s a funny idea.
The film is very definitely R-rated, taking unexpected detours that sometimes go where you just don’t want them to go. Other times, they go to a carnival so they can make fun of “narrator dogs” (voiced by A Dog’s Journey’s Josh Gad, which is honestly ingenious).
But these sparks of fun are few and far between and the meanspirited humor overwhelms the odd bits of inspired comedy. And then there’s all that dog shit.
Director Josh Greenbaum was mainly successful in finding a balance for the zaniness of his 2021 effort, Bar and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Mainly. But the bright points were brighter and the rest of it was just weird.
Strays, written by Dan Perrault, is the laziest kind of “road picture” – a series of unrelated sketches. There’s a Point A (the scary city block where Doug abandoned his dog) and Point B (Doug’s penis), but those steps in between are random skits about red rockets and chew toys. And those moments are just not funny enough to merit a full feature.