The film Strays sheds light on abusive relationships and toxic behavior, using humor to highlight the warning signs and offer a cathartic message for victims. The movie follows Reggie, an adorable Border terrier who is abandoned by his owner Doug. Reggie meets a pack of streetwise strays who help him navigate life on the streets and seek revenge on Doug for the years of abuse he endured. Along the way, Reggie learns how to stand up for himself and ultimately finds healing.
The film explores the idea that victims of abuse are not responsible for their abusers’ failings and should not internalize feelings of worthlessness. Reggie always tried to be the best dog he could be for Doug, but Doug never reciprocated with love or acknowledgment. Reggie believed that if he had just been perfect, Doug would have stayed. However, the truth is that abusers create impossible expectations and weaponize their victims’ failures to control their self-esteem.
Reggie also learns that he is not responsible for Doug’s failings. Doug blamed Reggie for the breakup with his girlfriend, but it was actually Doug’s own actions that ruined the relationship. Abusers often project their insecurities onto their victims, blaming them for their own shortcomings. Reggie internalizes Doug’s hurtful words without realizing that they stem from Doug’s own self-hatred.
The film emphasizes the importance of true friends and healthy relationships. Reggie’s new pack of friends love him unconditionally, regardless of whether he’s a “good boy” or a “bad dog.” True friends do not demand perfection and would never set someone up for failure to control them. Reggie’s new friends support him in standing up to Doug and give him the confidence to live his life as a stray.
Strays offers a silver lining for victims of abuse, showing that they can find healing and independence. The film’s message is both cathartic and hilarious, using humor to highlight the realities of toxic relationships and the warning signs to look out for. Ultimately, Strays promotes the idea that victims are worthy of love and support, and that they can find happiness and fulfillment outside of an abusive relationship.