By Mark Fields


A formidable array of comedic talent — Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, and Randall Park — has been assembled for Strays, a CGI-heavy dog-centric R-rated comedy. So, one would hope for better than this vulgar, scatological onslaught of a movie that features far more gross-outs and gags (somewhat literal) than genuine laughs. Essentially a four-legged quest story, with appealing mutt Reggie (Ferrell) collaborating with his new friends to help him get back to his pothead loser owner Doug (Forte). After one adjusts to the idea of non-animated talking dogs, the CGI pooches integrate well with the rest of the live-action sequences. There are intermittent laughs and a few memorable moments, but the charms of the comedic canines quickly get overrun by the overall coarseness of the dialogue. The producers are banking that there is an attainable audience for this kind of juvenile humor — and there likely is but for this viewer, Strays is nothing more than a bowl of stale kibble.

Mark Fields
Mark Fields has reviewed movies for Out & About since October 2008. In addition, he has written O&A profiles of documentarian Harry Shearer and actress Aubrey Plaza. Over the years, Mark also has written on film for several publications in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and his home state of Indiana, where he also served as on-air movie critic for Indianapolis’s public radio station. Mark was an adjunct instructor of film history at Rowan University from 1998 to 2018. A career arts administrator, he retired in fall 2021 after 16 years as an executive at Wilmington’s Grand Opera House. Mark now leads bike tours part-time and is working on a screenplay. He lives in Trolley Square with his partner Wendy. Mark spent the fastest 22 minutes of his life as an unsuccessful contestant on Jeopardy…sadly, there were no movie questions.