Director: Josh Greenbaum
Cast: Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher
Release Date: October 10, 2023
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Plucky pup Reggie (Ferrell) thought he and his owner Doug (Forte) were playing an innocent game of fetch. It isn’t until he meets Bug (Foxx), a streetwise stray who says only suckers have owners, that Reggie realizes his miserable master intentionally abandoned him in the big city. With two more pooches (Fisher & Park) adding fuel to his furry fire, Reggie goes from cute to cunning as he and Bug concoct a crazy scheme to get back to Doug and give him a big bite between his legs. Revenge has never been this riotous, or this irreverent, as the hilariously absurd antics of these four furballs turn typical animal adventures totally upside down. Forget everything you know about “dog movie” drama because this is one journey home that’s off its leash and over the top.
Please Note: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Strays’ tells the story of a lovable dog named Reggie who innocently believed his owner Doug dropping him off in random places, throwing his ball and taking off was nothing more than a loving game between friends. But when Reggie becomes lost after ending up farther from home than normal he befriends a streetwise stray named Bug and two other kindhearted dogs that help him to realize the true, ill-intentioned nature of his master’s motives. After accepting that his owner may not have been the friend he believed, Reggie decides to set out with his new stray friends and trek their way back to his home, only this time with plans for revenge against Doug.
Directed by Josh Greenbaum (Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, TV’s Fresh Off the Boat) from a screenplay written by Dan Perrault (TV’s Players), Greenbaum does a great job at the helm of ‘Strays’ guiding along the twisted and vulgar fun with a surprising amount of heart sprinkled in. The film’s cast which is comprised of voice performances and a few live-action roles includes Will Ferrell (Barbie), Jamie Foxx (Spider-Man: No Way Home), Isla Fisher (Godmothered), Randall Park (TV’s Young Rock), Brett Gelman (Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile) and Will Forte (Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken) along with more and the majority each do a splendid job in their respective roles and contribute noticeably to making this one work so smoothly.
‘Strays’ is a wildly hilarious, vulgar and profane twist on the typical family dog tale that is most definitely not for the entire family this time around. Taking things to some amusingly twisted places and keeping the offensive humor and laughs coming, the biggest surprise it has in store is in just how much heart it contributes to the twisted fun and antics throughout. The film never even attempts to pull its punches and it takes our furry leads to some shockingly dark and questionable places while never letting the laughs subside or disappear in the process while it explores the hilarious possibilities of what dogs might be thinking, as well as their motives and thoughts on various subjects which lead to repeatedly amusing results.
‘Strays’ actually bothers to develop these characters and craft a somewhat emotional story for everything to follow which isn’t always the case with this sort of comedy yet is to be applauded here for doing so in a meaningful and heartfelt way amid all of the dark, twisted and ever amusing shenanigans occurring throughout. The film is nicely guided along by director Josh Greenbaum and his work at the helm is only greatly complemented by a marvelously selected voice cast that includes Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher and Randall Park along with Will Forte who plays the one key human character and every cast member does a great job of contributing in their own way to make this one work as beautifully as it does.
Overall, ‘Strays’ is a fun, funny and surprisingly touching talking dog film that offers a few clever twists on the familiar formula; namely turning the tale into an offensive, vulgar and at times even somewhat shocking ride with no punches pulled and seemingly no topics too taboo to be poked at. Most impressive of all is that it offers a great deal of heart and some endearing (as well as some less so) characters paired with an occasionally emotional story at its core that helps to make this one stand out from the pack. ‘Strays’ is highly recommended for anyone that appreciates an offensive, vulgar and no-holds-barred R-Rated comedy that shouldn’t have any trouble keeping you engaged and consistently laughing out loud throughout its duration, not to mention touching the viewer’s heart more than you might expect. If you’re already intrigued by this one and don’t mind some offensive and shocking humor, then ‘Strays’ should be right up your alley and is well worth taking the time to give a chance.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Strays’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks quite good altogether and offers a sharp, clean and well detailed presentation from start to finish that holds up admirably every step of the way. The presentation provides rewarding detail and clarity on nearly every element within from the furry leads of the story to the various backgrounds and landscapes visible throughout their journey, and never suffering from any notable issues or faults to be uncovered along the way. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that does its job well and shouldn’t elicit any complaints from fans or newcomers.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack provides a clean, crisp and occasionally quite aggressive audio presentation throughout that nicely complements the onscreen fun and antics. It often keeps things a bit tamer than many modern day Hollywood films but never in a bad way and there are a few standout moments where the surround channels really get a workout such as the fireworks scene and the drug trip sequence. It also utilizes all five available channels quite regularly in other less aggressive ways in order to send music, along with nature effects and other tidbits throughout the various speakers whenever appropriate, while never causing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become negatively affected or distorted in the process. Overall, this is a fully capable 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that holds up well and shouldn’t have any trouble pleasing viewers.
The ‘Unleashed Edition’ Blu-ray release of ‘Strays’ includes some amusing extras that fans of the film should appreciate. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Josh Greenbaum and Screenwriter/Producer Dan Perrault’, in addition some Behind the Scenes Featurettes that feature interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are ‘Talk Like a Dog’ (running approximately 7 minutes in length), ‘The Ultimate Treat: Making Strays’ (running approximately 6 minutes), ‘Poop, Booms, and Shrooms’ (approximately 7 minutes), ‘Will Forte: Stray Actor’ (6 minutes), ‘Training To Be a Stray’ (5 minutes) and ‘A New Best Friend’ (3 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 8/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
‘Strays: Unleashed Edition’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
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