The most humane thing would be to put this movie out of our misery

It’s a rare movie indeed that can make me fundamentally question my love for cinema, but like Martin Scorcese finding himself at ComiCon, STRAYS made me do that. It even made me like dogs a little less.

Crass but rarely clever, gross for grossness’ sake and frequently foul-mouthed yet infrequently funny, STRAYS feels like a middling idea for a Saturday Night Live sketch expanded on by a hooped-up-on-Prime 14-year-old and stretched beyond breaking point.

They say where there’s a will, there’s a way but where there’s Will Ferrell, there’s really only two ways it can go and STRAYS unleashes his most gratingly annoying, interminably ad-libbing indulgent side when it would have been wider to muzzle him. It unbalances the central quartet and while Jamie Foxx fuels his attempt to match Ferrell’s mania with excessive profanity, Isla Fisher and Randall Park seem overpowered to the point of surrender, which is a shame given their characters.

The cinematic equivalent of a dog licking its own balls for 93 minutes straight, STRAYS is first and foremost uncomfortably fixated on canine genitalia, and is immensely self-satisfied with itself despite rarely managing to rise above the puerile, even in the final act when there’s a sudden – and somewhat panicky – pivot to incorporate some happy endings. Beyond the initial premise, there’s no real effort to parody the genre, to the extent that there’s a non-sequitur cameo from Dennis Quaid (star of A DOG’S PURPOSE and A DOG’s JOURNEY) that references neither. Frequently dumb rather than witty, it’s a kids’ film guilelessly reimagined for arrested development adults and even at its most imaginative it’s simply stealing a sequence wholesale from DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD.

The one bright spot here – if director Josh Greenbaum’s claims that 95% of what we see is real dogs can be believed – is that the animal wranglers have done an absolutely marvellous job here. Yes, the CGI mouth movements help but in amongst all the garbage, the canine performers are the only ones who emerge from this dog’s dinner with any credit. Oh sure, it may boast about its pedigree, being from the people who brought you COCAINE BEAR and 21 JUMP STREET but the only film it merits comparison to is HOLMES & WATSON.

Strays Review
score-2

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