Review by Adam Donato
Phil Lord and Chris Miller are two of the greatest filmmakers working today. Interestingly enough, the duo hasn’t directed a feature in almost a decade. In the meantime, they’ve been succeeding as producers. This year alone they’ve already seen successes in Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse and Cocaine Bear. Strays definitely falls more in line with the latter. It's a talking dog comedy, but this time with a hard R-rating. Think Homeward Bound meets The Wolf of Wall Street. While the kids are just about ready for school, adults who grew up on dog movies can enjoy a raunchy twist on the genre.
It’s funny that R-rated studio comedies are intended for adults, but no other demographic will enjoy them more than boys 13-17 years old. Strays is excessively explicit, but that’s the whole joke. It’s not high-brow humor, but it’s meant to appeal to the masses. This movie certainly takes advantage of the R-rating, which is nice because it’s easy to see a world where this movie keeps it family friendly for a PG-13. If you think the word “f**k” is funny or are interested in jokes about sex and poop, then Strays is sure to be a blast. Expect an unrated cut on the DVD featuring a naked Will Forte.
Long ago were the days where Will Ferrell was a comedy rockstar. That 2000s run with hits like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers defined studio comedies for a while. These days, Will Ferrell is much more miss than hit. Here he does well with his voice over performance, but it’s hard to assume his star power coupled with Jamie Foxx will put butts in seats. The outrageous premise should be doing the heavy lifting. Foxx has fun as well, but the standouts here are Randall Park and Will Forte. Park is doing his typical nice guy geek thing, but it's very funny as his character is this gigantic dog compared to his friends who are mostly lap sized.
Dog movies are a persistent genre and most of them are exactly the same. We see the world through the innocent eyes of a dog who is ignorant to the complexities of the human world, but due to this simple perspective, their insights hold more wisdom than we know. Not to mention, they’re silly little guys who like chasing squirrels and food. It’s a winning formula, but a formula nonetheless. Strays parodies this genre in a delightful way, going as far as to feature Josh Gad as the stereotypical dog narrator. In such a saturated market for films like these, it’s refreshing to see Strays have such an outrageous take on the subject.
Strays is sure to satisfy comedy fans who can stomach crude and outrageous content. Bring some friends and have some drinks for this one as it’s a total riot. Somewhere out there, there’s a cool uncle who is taking their middle schooler out of class to catch this one. Poor parenting aside, what a great day. Still catching up on the amazing summer slate at the theater? Feel free to wait to check this one out at home. Still, it's a good time comedic romp. Bless Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Strays hits theaters on August 18.