A swearing dog voiced by Will Ferrell is funny – once. A swearing dog voiced by Jamie Foxx is funny – once. Having set up its ribald premise, however, Strays – an R-rated riposte to such talking-pooch heart-stirrers as 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose, complete with cameos from that film’s stars – has to relentlessly and tiresomely up the ante, plastering the screen with so many peeing, pooping, and humping tail-waggers it feels more like A Dog’s Porno.
Will Forte sets the tone early on as Ferrell’s horrible owner, a nut-scratching serial masturbator who, when not shaving his balls, meanly throws one for Ferrell’s Reggie to chase before going home without him. When the deadbeat Doug finally manages to dump his unwanted pet in the city, Reggie falls in with a scrappy Boston Terrier (Foxx) who, with help from two fellow outcasts (an Australian Shepherd and Great Dane voiced by Isla Fisher and Randall Park respectively), teaches him how to survive and thrive on the streets. Eventually, though, Reggie realises how poorly he’s been treated and resolves to give Doug a dose of his own medicine. Oh, and also bite off the ‘custard launcher’ he values so highly.
There is something rather admirable in director Josh Greenbaum’s go-for-broke approach, one that sees his hounds urinate over each other, pleasure themselves against garden ornaments, and flip out on magic mushrooms. Long before Brett Gelman’s canine-catcher is called upon to roll around in a pound’s worth of doggie-doo, though, you might be wishing you were Homeward Bound yourself.
Strays is in UK cinemas on August 17 and in US cinemas on August 18.