Directed by: Josh Greenbaum
Written by: Dan Perrault
Starring: Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Will Forte, Isla Fisher, Randall Park, Josh Gad, Rob Riggle, Sofia Vergara
Released: August 17, 2023
Grade: B+


As someone who subscribes to the “less you know, the better” mantra, I tend to avoid movie trailers where possible.  I’d rather go into the cinema, be surprised, and not anticipate certain jokes/plot points.  That said, I recommend watching the trailer for Strays to understand just how depraved its humour is.  Just like the popular Ted, this is not a film for children.  The Australian Classification Board has dished out an MA rating for its “strong crude humour, sex, course language, and drug use.”  Not what you might expect from a flick centred on cute, talking animals!

I enjoyed Strays for what it is.  This isn’t a profound, deep, life-changing comedy.  It wins points for its sheer shock value – making inappropriate, eyebrow-raising jokes about things you wouldn’t expect.  I lost count of the references to humping, genitals, butt-sniffing, and faecal matter.  There are also “completely out of left field” moments like the cameo of a Hollywood star who plays an avid bird watcher.  It’s hard not to laugh and the randomness and stupidity.

The plot isn’t hugely critical (it’s jokes above all else) but for those interested, Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell) is a naïve, 2-year-old Border Terrier who has been abandoned hours out of town by his unemployed owner, Doug (Forte).  Finally coming to the realisation that Doug is a scumbag who never loved him, Reggie teams up with three other “off the leash” strays brought to life by the voices of Jamie Foxx (Ray), Randall Park (Fresh off the Boat), and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers).  The later deserves credit for using an exaggerated Australian accent which is humorously annoying.

With the characters introduced, our four “heroes” then go on a road trip back to Reggie’s hometown to inflict an extremely painful revenge on the unsuspecting Doug.  To help pad the film out to its 93-minute run time (an appropriate length), a few skit-like misadventures are thrown in during the middle act.  Without giving too much away… highlights include the interactions with a narrator dog (voiced by Josh Gad) at a carnival, and the crazy method used to steal a set of keys.

The production values of director Josh Greenbaum also deserve a shoutout.  He’s found great dogs and expert trainers in bringing the narrative to life – a way of limiting the visual effects and making it feel more real.  I won’t be taking my mum along to Strays but if you’re after a filthy, foul-mouthed outing to the cinema, here’s the movie for you.