Strays is a film by Josh Greenbaum, starring Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx, that defies the conventions of typical dog-centric movies by intermixing raunchy humor with touching moments of sentimentality. It offers a refreshing and surprisingly funny take on the dog adventure genre while challenging the narrative tropes associated with pet ownership in media.
A Comedy Like No Other
The film starts unabashedly raunchy, packing in a series of lewd jokes that might not be everyone’s cup of tea but certainly serve to differentiate it from other dog-related movies. The film does not shy away from being crass and unapologetic, with jokes that touch upon adult themes and vulgar humor reminiscent of the comedic trends of the 1990s and 2000s. Yet, amidst the raucousness, Strays navigates the challenges of dog-centric narratives and humanizes its canine characters in a way that avoids the usual sentimentality associated with dog death or loss.
A Different Kind of Dog Story
Unlike other dog-centric movies, Strays doesn’t focus on the sadness of losing a pet but instead highlights the individual personalities and quirks of dogs. The film portrays the dogs as little, lovable gremlins that, despite their mischief, endear themselves to the audience. The protagonist, Reggie, voiced by Will Ferrell, is a naive and innocent pup who navigates a world filled with bizarre challenges and adventures alongside a cast of quirky and memorable canine characters.
Challenging the Narrative
The film challenges the typical narrative of pet ownership by depicting it as something more complex than merely a source of affection or a complement to human life. The dogs in Strays are portrayed as individuals with their own personalities, desires, and agency. This depiction emphasizes the need to appreciate and care for pets as beings in their own right rather than as mere accessories to human existence.
The adventure that the characters embark on is filled with unexpected twists and turns as they encounter various obstacles like fireworks, attempted kidnappings by hawks, and psychedelic mushrooms. Although some of the antics may seem formulaic for an adventure movie, the unique perspective of the dogs and their attempts to process the events make it engaging and character-driven.
Visual and Emotional Challenges
A notable challenge in the film is the digital enhancement of the dogs’ mouths to facilitate human speech, which initially comes off as distracting and somewhat unsettling. However, as the film progresses, this becomes less jarring and allows for a deeper connection with the characters. Despite its sentimentality, which is almost unavoidable in a dog movie, Strays balances cheeriness with genuine emotion without resorting to overt manipulation.
The Final Verdict
Strays is a refreshing and character-driven film that challenges the typical narratives associated with pet ownership and dog-centric movies. It combines raunchy humor with genuine sentimentality, creating a unique and engaging narrative that emphasizes the individuality and agency of its canine characters. Despite its visual challenges and occasional dips into saccharine territory, Strays is a film that captures the weird and wonderful nature of dogs, making it a must-watch for dog lovers and comedy enthusiasts alike.
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