Dog days of summer deliver surprising hound hit

‘Strays’ is an inventive, even endearing, comedy

Where: In theatres
What: Movie, 93 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Comedy
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: Smart, inventive, crude and funny as hell as Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx voice hilarious hounds on this update on the animal trek trope.

STRAYS, a combination, live-action and CGI animation film, is surprisingly funny, clever, crude as fuck and even, occasionally, sweet.

Strays is a foul-mouthed, arse-sniffing update on the “group of adorable animals come together to get home the lost among them” film. It’s a raunchy update on The Incredible Journey, Homeward Bound and a ton of animation flicks; but previous, generally wholesome examples did not feature characters that would hump literally anything, plot revenge on humans or endlessly ponder each other’s genitals.

Strays does all this and more, powered by great voice work from Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Randall Park along with horrible human Doug (Will Forte).

Ferrell basically, happily riffs on his Elf innocence as Reggie, an adorable dog so naïve he doesn’t realize his abusive owner, Doug, is trying to ditch him, driving him further and further from his run-down home to lose the ever-returning hound.

When Doug dumps Reggie in a decidedly urban area, first Bug the Boston terrier (Foxx), then the classy Boston Shepherd Maggie (Fisher) and cone-wearing Great Dane Hunter (Park) are all determined to wise up their loveable new friend on to the cruel ways of humans. Eventually, Reggie heeds his buddies’ advice and grows so incensed at his “owner” that he decides to head home one more time, this time for revenge: “I’m going to bite his dick off,” the newly feisty Reggie declares, with enthusiastic response from his pals, and the adventure truly begins.

The dogs deftly deliver droll one-liners and the script is packed with wry asides much wittier than the many poop jokes that infest the film like a bad case of fleas — though pushing the limit is at the core of this kind of comedy. And that’s the surprise of Strays: it’s not all just base, crude jokes — it’s actually clever, inventive and even kind of sweet. An enjoyable, summer surprise.