When it comes to R-rated comedies, there really are a lot of things that become expected within the story and development of the movie itself. For a movie, especially a comedy, to be rated R, there is nearly an expectation for the movie to be so repulsively vulgar or contain intense nudity to get that rating, and usually the movie doesn’t meet the feat that audiences have the expectations of. Thankfully, though, Josh Greenbaum’s (Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar) Strays delivers the laughter, the heart, and a truly wild story that makes it one of those comedies that appeals to the audience with a broad appeal of humor and don’t get turned off by the lowest common denominator either.
Now, before we dive into the home release entirely, it has to be noted that Universal has different release dates and editions between Canada and the United States. The U.S. version has a digital code included while the Canadian version does not, and from first look online, it does not appear that the U.S. has a slipcover, while the Canadian version does. But that is where the differences between the two editions end. Now, there is a banner at the top of the packaging that states this is the Unleashed Edition of the movie, with no further explanation as to what that actually means. Upon playing the movie, there is not an alternative cut, as there is no option to play the “unleashed” version. This more just seems like a clever play on words because the movie is about dogs, unleashed, running around, and causing a little bit of mayhem. Personally speaking, I am not a huge fan of the branding of an unleashed edition, which leads the consumer to lead to believe it is maybe an unrated edition with some extra gags, or something cut because of ratings etc., when it’s just some cute word play. For the general audience of this movie, I don’t think the cutesy word play is a selling point, and more likely than not it is going to create a false narrative of bonuses are included in the movie itself.
Strays focuses on a dog named Reggie (Will Ferrell) whose owner is one of the worst owners on the planet. His owner, Doug (Will Forte), wants nothing to do with Reggie, as he was only bought as a gift for his ex-girlfriend, and only decided to keep Reggie to ensure that his ex did not get him. However, Reggie does not see things this way and believes that Doug is great. When Doug manages to get rid of Reggie by dumping him in the city, Reggie meets another stray, Bug (Jamie Foxx), and fellow dogs Maggie (Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Park), and they team together to help Reggie seek his revenge against Doug by taking away his favourite “toy” by biting his dick off. Throughout the movie, Reggie is conflicted by this decision and it leads to butting of heads as Reggie and Bug have differing opinions on what to do with Doug and people in general.
Strays certainly boasts strong voice work which helps carry the movie penned by first-time feature screenwriter Dan Perrault who manages to balance the adult comedy with some literal poop jokes which will surely divide audiences. While it is aimed at a more mature audience, the number and level of juvenile poop jokes is high, but if you have an open mind and don’t mind the jokes, then there is plenty to enjoy and enough hilarity to get lost in of these talking animals and their hijinks. The largest issue I have with the movie is in its messaging of adopt don’t shop not being prominent enough throughout the movie, almost feeling like an afterthought. While I understand the careful line they’re trying to walk and to not start a charged argument of that topic, the movie is focused on stray dogs who deserve better homes (in Reggie’s case) and who deserve people who love them. Since the message was never clearly stated but done so rather passively, it feels weird that the movie didn’t specifically say it at one point.
Regardless though, Strays is a very silly yet oddly touching movie about a dog whose owner turned out to be real human excrement, his journey to seek revenge, and how he learns that he should love himself. With this home release being a Blu-ray/DVD/digital (U.S. only) combo pack, the film certainly looks good as it is a modern release and not heavily animated (there are a few sequences). They used real trained dogs which brings another level of realism to the picture quality of the film itself. There are a whopping seven bonus features that are packed into this home release. Everything ranging from a full commentary with the writer and director, to behind-the-scenes features, and diving into how the actors got into character. With Strays finding their way onto shelves, and hopefully those shelves being their forever homes, this hilarious comedy jampacked with features is surely a win for the comedy lovers who just want a good laugh, and maybe a chuckle or two at a pile of poop.
Strays Special Features:
- Talk like a dog
- The Ultimate Treat: Making Strays
- Poop, Booms, and Shrooms
- Will Forte: Stray Actor
- Training to be Stray
- A New Best Friend
- Feature commentary with director/producer Josh Greenbaum and screenwriter/producer Dan Perrault
Available on digital and stream on Peacock October 6th, 2023.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD October 10th, 2023 in the U.S. and October 31st in Canada.
For more information, head to the official Universal Pictures Strays website.