Strays review: Inappropriate dog comedy has more bark than bite

The film is out in cinemas now

Strays (Universal)
Strays (Universal)
  • 🎞️ When is Strays out in cinemas: 17 August, 2023

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 2/5

  • 🎭 Who's in it? Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Randall Park and Will Forte

  • 👍 What we liked: This is an outrageous comedy and it does land some good laughs during the course of the story.

  • 👎 What we didn't: Strays often reaches for the lowest hanging-fruit with its jokes, which grows more and more tiresome as the movie goes on.

  • 📖 What's it about? When dog Reggie is abandoned by his neglectful owner Doug he decides that he's going to return to get revenge by biting his penis off, and he's supported on this journey by three new pooch friends.

Strays is giving inappropriate comedies its big comeback, joining the likes of Sausage Party, Rick and Morty and others in the genre to amuse and disgust viewers in equal measure.

Strays follows Reggie (or as his owner "lovingly" calls him, S***bag), a dog who believes his deadbeat owner Doug (Will Forte) is the best in the world especially because he's come up with a new game called "fetch and f***" where he has to catch a ball and get back home on his own after Doug drives off.

Read more: Elf: 17 things you might not know about the Will Ferrell Christmas movie

Of course Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell) doesn't realise that Doug is trying to abandon him, not until he's left alone in a new city far from home.

He's taken in by foul-mouthed dog Bug (Jamie Foxx), who shows him the benefits of being a stray, and Reggie decides he wants to get revenge on Doug... by biting his penis off.

Strays (Universal)
Strays (Universal)

If the film's basic premise doesn't already make it obvious, Strays is widely inappropriate and relies on dirty jokes about humping, penises, and dog excrement to tell its story.

The movie has quite a few funny moments thanks to Foxx's Bug, who brings the most energy as a stray who is angry at the world because of his past experiences with humans.

Read more: How the Strays team got its dog stars to do R-rated acts on command: 'Humpity humpity' (Entertainment Weekly, 11-min read)

But as the film goes on the jokes begin to wear thin - there are only so many times one can laugh at something disgusting onscreen without feeling the film is tasteless.

A viewer's enjoyment of the film will likely depends on their sense of humour, but Strays often picks the lowest hanging fruit to make its audience laugh (Bug would describe that by using a gag around balls, for example) and this doesn't always work.

Strays (Universal)
Strays (Universal)

That being said, Ferrell, Foxx and fellow voice actors Isla Fisher (Maggie) and Randall Park (Hunter) are fun in their respective dog roles, and even though they're not actually onscreen together the quartet have got good chemistry together which proves their acting skills.

What other critics thoughts of Strays:

The Independent: Dogs have sex and do drugs in an unfunny talking-animal comedy (3-min read)

Variety: Foul-Mouthed Dogs Teach Humans a Few New Tricks in Original Talking-Dog Comedy (4-min read)

The CGI used to make the dogs speak is also great and it flows surprisingly smoothly onscreen, helping to make Reggie, Bug, Maggie and Hunter feel like real characters.

Strays has its moments and will get a few laughs out of its audience, but its over-reliance on blue humour will not be to everyone's taste and that is part of its downfall.

Strays is out in cinemas now.

Watch the trailer for Strays: