Strays has so many odd things about it. There is the fact that it looks like a kid's film when it is actually a vulgar R-rated comedy. Then there is the uncanny valley quality to the talking dogs that star in the film. And finally, the humor is an odd mixture of cutesy animal setups and obscenity-laden punchlines. The whole thing is deeply unfunny.
Director Josh Greenbaum's last film was Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar, a hilarious comedy that felt inspired and totally on its own wavelength. Strays has the tone of an unaired South Park episode, minus any satire. When Strays finally ended, I questioned why I had subjected myself to this live-action movie about dogs trying to bite off their derelict owner's penis.
The plot isn't much more complicated than that. Will Ferrell voices Reggie, a scruffy dog who adores his owner Doug (Will Forte). Doug hates Reggie and routinely abuses him by playing a game of fetch meant to get Reggie lost. It eventually works and Reggie is left in the city abandoned. There he meets the street-smart Bug (Jamie Foxx), sniffer extraordinaire Maggie (Isla Fisher), and nebbish Hunter (Randall Park). After a debaucherous night out in the city, the four decide to go bite Doug's penis off.
The screenplay by Dan Perrault is largely the problem here. 90 minutes of crude poop and schlong jokes get old quickly, even wrapped in cute animals. The talented cast doesn't seem to have been allowed to riff and so we are left with a series of repetitive jokes. The result is the feeling that you are being badgered by some gross, drunk dude at a bar. Where is the wit and weirdness that made Barb and Star so special?