Star Rating:


Director: Josh Greenbaum

Actors: Will Ferrell, Sofia Vergara, Jamie Foxx

Release Date: Friday 18th August 2023

Genre(s): Comedy

Running time: 93 minutes

Reggie (voice of Will Ferrell) is continuously abandoned by his dirtbag owner (Will Forte) in the woods surrounding his broken-down home, but somehow manages to find his way back. Determined to abandon the dog once and for all, Reggie is dumped in the city and soon falls in with a group of strays led by Bug (voice of Jamie Foxx). Together, the group decides to exact vengeance on Reggie's owner by guiding him back to him so he can bite his penis off...

There's a sense watching 'Strays' that it feels like this is a movie that should have been made ten or fifteen years ago, around the time of 'Sausage Party', 'Superbad', or 'Super Troopers', but for some reason never made it to cinemas. Even in the last few years, movies like 'A Dog's Journey' and its sequel, 'A Dog's Purpose', have made plenty of box office out of overt sentimentality and it feels like 'Strays' is falling behind them, covered in shit and wagging its tail. Yet, like any dog that finds a pile of dirt and revels in it, you are incapable of not loving the thing. There's a kind of feckless charm about 'Strays' that prevents you from having anything too harsh to say about it.

Will Ferrell channels his Buddy The Elf voice for Reggie, all of it high-pitched enthusiasm and cheer in comparison to Jamie Foxx's chip-on-his-paw attitude. Will Forte, meanwhile, plays a completely unlikeable shitbag with his trademark weirdness and gusto, culminating in a very convincing finale that'll have half the audience squirming and the other half cheering. Randall Park and Isla Fisher, voicing a well-endowed Great Dane and a pampered Australian Shepherd, both have good comedic beats together and you get the sense that the recording sessions frequently broke down in corpsed laughter.

That said, some of the jokes don't always land as they should and you can feel the concept creaking under weight at certain points in the movie. As well as this, the mouth-flapping on the animals gets a little weird and unsettling in places, to say nothing of an over-the-top CGI moment involving an eagle and two of the dog characters that falls entirely flat and doesn't make a huge amount of sense, comedically or otherwise.

As mentioned, you get the sense that screenwriter Dan Perrault - who previously created the excellent 'American Vandal' series on Netflix - had this thing sitting on his laptop for the past few years and dusted it off to hand to director Josh Greenbaum and producing super duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller. While its premise is dated somewhat, 'Strays' is nevertheless enjoyably stupid fun and requires absolutely nothing of its audience, only a willingness to laugh at dogs being stupid and cursing frequently.