When Reggie (Will Ferrell) is led astray in the adult canine comedy STRAYS, I had to wonder when this Border Terrier will see the light? His master, Doug (Will Forte), is a ne’er-do-well, and he only adopted the dog because his girlfriend at the time adored him. But now that they split up, he should have no reason to keep the adorable puppy around. Even though the story is told from this little fur ball’s perspective, Farrel’s performance really sells it since I like his voice acting more than appearances in films like BARBIE. When he’s the lead in many an animated work, that’s when I ususally take an interest.
However, the human that he cohabitates with is the opposite, and when he finally has enough, he abandons him far, far away. After a few early attempts, Doug returns, and the action that ensues is far better than other talking animal movies I’ve seen. They’re family friendly affairs, and the most popular were most likely CATS AND DOGS along with CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. Other films like Scooby-Doo are an exception to the rule since they were developed from an animated property, and it’s easy to buy into the illusion. But if you don’t have personalities to match the breed of dog, then it’s a hard sell.
With this recent home video release of the movie, I found a reason to love these types of films again. That’s because this one is all tripped out, raunchy as all heck, and yes, the team up of Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Randall Park really works. I’ve only become exposed to the latter’s comedic styling through THE ROCK, and while he’s more of a wayward geek there, to see him in his proper element here has my respect. And Foxx has that personality that I can not hate. He’s like a different version of Samuel L. Jackson, and for Fisher to really cut loose, she offered the best moments!
Also, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are a team whom I have the greatest respect for. Their breakout hit, CLONE HIGH, is just hilarious! And as writer/directors of CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS and executive producers of SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE series, to see them return to a style that made them famous is very welcomed.
Also, to see Doug get his comeuppance is the climax viewers are waiting for. When it happens, the bonus features in this release tells all not only why, but also how it was filmed and what safety measures were in place to protect the actor. I’m always amazed at the amount of work put in to prepare for these scenes. To work with animal performers is tough, especially when there’s a slight communication barrier, but like with Jackie Chan’s RIDE ON, to let these animals be who they are is more important than wrangling them like in a circus.
About the Blu-Ray Release
This release presents the film in the aspect ratio of 1:85:1, and doesn’t offer much by way of additional cinematographic detail due to the nature of the beast. That is, there’s nothing in this department to make the production stand out against other works. It’s the narrative details that viewers want to be paying attention to. The transfer offers crisp details on the outdoor set pieces, so that viewers can be lost at how adorable these canines are. The urban world is also just as vibrant with detail.
Also, the usual collection of deleted/extended scenes, production secrets, interviews, and commentary tracks are offered. Honestly, if this film doesn’t make you want to go out to adopt a dog afterwards, then I don’t know what will. Yes, I can watch the post credit scene over and over again because it’s exemplifies what it meant to adopt a pet.
STRAYS is now available on Blu Ray from Universal. Our thanks to Universal PR for sending along a copy for review.