STRAYS: If You Have Seen the Trailers, You’ve Seen the Best Parts

Everyone knows that trailers are supposed to pique people’s interest in movies. However, if a trailer reveals too much, there is little else to enjoy or appreciate once one has spent money on a movie ticket. Sadly, such is the case with Strays, a movie that attempts to deliver a comedic take on “talking animal” movies. I must admit that I was hooked when I first watched the Red Band trailer. I knew the film had a great voice cast, and I laughed heartily at the ridiculously ribald humor I had hoped would go above and beyond what was teased. Unfortunately, the movie falls short, and while it has some entertainment value, it never transcends the raunchy tone it obviously has.

Loving, naive, and eager to please, Border Terrier Reggie (Will Smith) is clueless about his deadbeat owner, Doug (Will Forte). Despite Doug’s abusive behavior and his vain attempts to get rid of the dog, Reggie sincerely believes that Doug cares for him, and the attempts at abandonment are a silly game they play regularly. However, Doug finally takes Reggie on a long road trip to a city, leaving him to fend for himself.

Desperate to return home, Reggie befriends a street-wise stray dog named Bug (Jamie Foxx), who teaches Reggie how to be independent. Bug introduces him to his friends Maggie (Isla Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Park), who convince Reggie that Doug is trying to get rid of him. When Reggie finally realizes the truth behind Doug’s game, he and his new friends travel back to Reggie’s home to seek revenge.

Do not get me completely wrong. Strays has entertaining moments and can be fun, but if you have seen any trailers, there is little else to enjoy. What remains is the expected attempts at raunchy humor, gross-out gags, and shocks. And even then, the so-called shocking moments are not all that disturbing. The result is an occasionally amusing movie with only a little else going for it.

To its benefit, the filmmakers have assembled a great voice cast who want to transcend the limited material they have received. Will Ferrell is great, as are Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Randall Park, and the others, but their caliber of talent deserves a better movie. The actors put much earnestness into their performance and make the characters likable, but this movie could be less shallow and stronger.

And that is not to say that some people won’t have a great time with this film. For some, the raunchy humor and obvious gags will be enough. However, I wanted more depth and a better-developed story and characters. Strays is now open in theaters, but this movie will be better enjoyed at home. What you see in the trailers is what you get.

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