Strays VS Stray

Strays (2023)
Reggie (Will Ferrell) is a scruffy little pet dog who naively doesn’t realize he’s just been
abandoned by his utterly reprehensible owner Doug (Will Forte). As he attempts to find his
way back home, he meets a bunch of stray dogs who take him under their wing. Picture
Disney’s 1993 classic road-trip adventure Homeward Bound: The incredible Journey but then
injected with the pubescent sort of humour you’ll have been subjected to in movies like Ted
(2012) or Sausage Party (2016). This is a very foul-mouthed pack of doggies indeed,
dropping countless references to humping and peeing and other obscenities. Now, it’s
certainly not beneath me to appreciate this kind of relentless assault on common decency
but nevertheless I was happy to discover that amidst the vulgarity, they’ve also managed to
craft semi-loveable characters with something akin to a satisfying emotional arch. Just
manage your expectations somewhat – you know, get in the right headspace – and I don’t
exclude you’ll have a good time.
Stray (2020)
This unnarrated documentary shares its title with the work of fiction discussed above (albeit
in singular) and yes, the protagonists here are also vagabond canines, but apart from that
Stray is a very different experience, indeed. We follow a couple of real-life stray dogs in the
city of Istanbul as they partake in day-to-day goings-on. Cruising through the shopping
district, wandering about construction sites, crossing busy intersections, or just eating
whatever scraps they can find and sleeping where the wind takes them. On its own, this
would already be solid fodder for any of my fellow dog-lovers out there but there’s more
going on here. Evidently, strays have been part of Turkish urban culture for a long time and
regulations appear to favour their overall wellbeing. In fact the general attitude towards them
seems to be very caring and respectful. Locals, tourists, workers and refugees alike all seem
quite content to share the streets in blissful harmony. Especially the latter group often
comprised of drug-addicted homeless young men is depicted as truly treasuring their
companionship. This peaceful interspecies coexistence is quite endearing to behold and
really makes you put things in perspective which is made all the more impressive considering
the very few discernible utterances throughout the film. Who’s a good boy?

Loïc Charlier

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