Thursday, 18 July 2024

‘Strays’ raunchy canine comedy; ‘Jack Ryan’ on Amazon Prime


A cute canine may be the star of “Strays” but that doesn’t make for a family-friendly entertainment. With far more profanity than the average Samuel L. Jackson film, this one is rated R so hard that it veers to the edge of being an X.

Who knew that dogs could be ruthlessly potty-mouthed? Not the naïve, hopelessly optimistic Border Terrier named Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell). Wait until he is stranded in the big city and meets a new four-legged friend who drops F-bombs almost every other word.

Living with jobless bum Doug (Will Forte), Reggie happens to be oblivious that his uncaring, drug-addled owner is a miserable lowlife with no regard for his well-being.

Doug calls Reggie names that one might save for a profanity-laced tirade. Reggie enjoys a daily routine of playing fetch with a tennis ball, which is really Doug’s intention of abandoning his pet far from home.

Dissatisfied with Reggie always finding his way home, the heartless sleazeball owner drives for hours to drop Reggie on the mean streets of a distant city. Ever the optimist, Reggie is certain his beloved owner would never leave him on purpose.

However, Reggie falls in with a fast-talking, foul-mouthed Boston Terrier named Bug (Jamie Foxx), a stray who loves his freedom and believes owners are for suckers, especially when the owner is a total dirtbag like Doug.

With newfound friends, Reggie comes to realize that he was in a toxic, abusive relationship with his owner and becomes determined to seek revenge that Bug is only too thrilled to encourage.

Reggie and Bug are joined by Bug’s pals — Maggie (Isla Fisher), a smart Australian Shepherd who has been sidelined by her owner’s new puppy, and Hunter (Randall Park), a nervous Great Dane who’s stressed out by his work as an emotional support animal for seniors.

A former police dog who failed on the job, Hunter’s great size is deceptive because he’s pretty much petrified by any form of confrontation and looks silly wearing a cone. If only he had the swagger of the diminutive Bug.

Some of the wild antics have already been seen in the trailer, but there is much to be said for the physical performances of the pooches, to say nothing of their giddy crudeness in plotting retribution.

Hatching the revenge plot reveals a scheme that would result in a sense of dread as the dogs want to make Doug pay by biting off his favorite appendage. We’re not talking about body parts connected to extremities.

“Strays” is the antidote to sappy canine films like “Marley & Me” and “A Dog’s Journey.” To be sure, there is plenty of crude humor but also a lot of funny gags and the absurdity derived from canine comportment.

Whatever your choice, don’t take young kids to this movie. You may have a hard time explaining why Bug likes humping a ratty old couch and other inanimate objects.


All good things in a popular series come to an end eventually, and that’s the case for “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan: The Final Season” streaming on Amazon Prime Video. John Krasinski’s Dr. Jack Ryan takes his fourth and last turn as CIA analyst climbing the ranks of the Agency.

In the first season, Ryan starts off at a desk job before going into the field chasing an Islamic extremist, and then ends up in the midst of political intrigue in a corrupt Venezuela in the second season.

The third season took the more conventional route of a spy thriller of us versus the Russians. It might be Putin’s dream to revive the Soviet Union by starting a nuclear war in Europe. We’re uncomfortably close to that now in the assault on Ukraine.

A key player at the CIA is Ryan’s mentor and former boss James Greer (Wendell Pierce), who should be cashing in for a nice retirement but is seemingly drawn to the action like a moth to the flame.

The opening of the final season is most uncomfortable for Ryan, as he’s seen bound and cloaked in a Myanmar black site to be tortured by unknown terrorists. Does this have anything to do with the flashback to the assassination of the Prime Minister of Lagos?

Meanwhile, the murder plot carried out by assassins linked to Bill Tuttle (Michael McElhatton), an ex-CIA operative and Army Ranger, is connected to Chao Fah (Louis Ozawa), a Myanmar drug kingpin and casino owner who wants the port of Lagos being used by his Silver Lotus Triad.

Political intrigue enters the picture when Ryan, as Acting Deputy Director, and his old Rome station boss Elizabeth Wright (Betty Gabriel), Acting Director, face Senate confirmation to make their positions permanent.

Michael Pena’s mysterious Chavez brings a twist to this chapter with his infiltration into a Mexican cartel with ties to a terrorist outfit. His involvement with the CIA adds another layer of intrigue that makes “Jack Ryan” a truly watchable finale to the series.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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