film reel image

film reel image

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Strays 2023 * * 1/2 Stars


Watching 2023's Strays, you ask yourself what should I scoff at and what should I nervously laugh at without feeling guilty about it. That's a tall order and yeah, Strays is one raunchy comedy. Dogs eating stuff from each other's upchuck, the abundance of feces, those same dogs humping couches and whatnot, the biting of a male's private parts by a pint-size pooch, rear-end sniffing. Shall I go on? 

With pups being voiced by the likes of Jamie Foxx, Will Ferrell, and Isla Fisher, Strays likes to push the envelope, seeing how far the viewer will go without reaching for a convenient vomit bag. The theater I was in had more groans than light chuckles. The dog characters spewed more F-bombs than Martin Scorsese fare circa the 2010s. Dennis Quaid gets no billing in a weird, creeped out cameo (no comment). "You can learn how beautiful it can be when you're off the leash". Wha??

So let's not hedge shall we. I mean did I mistakenly like Strays? To a point. With the end of  August being that release dump month, an R-rated movie about canines that talk like actual humans would make anyone's ears perk up (not to mention the fact that the special effect of hand animation here is conveyed quite well). 

And do I think Strays unfortunately wears out its gimmick of squirrely mutts being potty-mouthed for a good 93 minutes? Yup and that's the rub. When every word of dialogue uttered is virtually part of the seven dirty ones, it tends to eventually get mundane and less funny. Thank the Almighty that Strays has a decent story mixing the bawdy with the sentimental (the comedic version of savory and sweet). Otherwise this flick would be an exercise strictly rooted in cinematic transgression, showing the behavior of man's best friend as a wool-coated circus freak. To lead "astray".   

Written by Jesse Burleson

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