The Stray (2017) Mar 4, 2018 18:55:20 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Mar 4, 2018 18:55:20 GMT -5
The Stray (2017)
Directed by: Mitch Davis
Directed by: Mitch Davis
The Stray is a faith-based film by way of Tommy Wiseau. It's a cheap and unconvincing display of pathos the likes of which could effectively be reviewed by listing the barrage of goofs or questionable moments that run amuck. It's quite the stunning feat for a Christian film when its surface-level ideology takes a backseat to the royal incompetence on display in terms of screenwriting and acting. I suggest the filmmakers of this and the abysmal Slamma Jamma get together and compare notes on how they ostensibly just wanted to fumble any and all chance at making a modestly compelling motion-picture.
Based on a true story, written and directed by the father and son who experienced it first-hand, the film revolves around the middle-class Davis family, who currently operate on shaky ground. The father, Mitch (Michael Cassidy), is an overworked screenwriter, who has become so consumed by his job that he can't pay attention neither to his three children nor wife, Michelle (Sarah Lancaster). Probably in need of the most attention, however, is their young son Christian (Connor Corum), a surly kid who is said not to have any friends about three scenes after we see him playing with a group of neighborhood boys. When Mitch's youngest daughter prays for a stray dog to come into their lives — since her mother said they wouldn't go out of their way to adopt one — Christian meets and subsequently takes home a stray he names "Pluto," who comes at the right time to save this family on the brink.
The Stray opens with a rainstorm, which looks like confetti flying through the air, breaking out in the middle of the Colorado mountains as Mitch, Christian, and two other boys are hiking. They set up camp, and in the middle of the night, lightning strikes, severely wounding Mitch and killing Pluto. After going back one year earlier, this sequence returns about halfway through the film, curiously interjected at a point when Pluto, despite his yearlong stay in the Davis household, is still a stranger to the audience and little more than a non-factor with the family. And yet, they talk him up as if he's been a part of their family for years and left an impact akin to that longevity. Pluto never becomes more than the sum of "the wonder dog," the cliche name he's given, for he's just another inessential movie-dog who is special because we're told to believe he is. Even the film's end credits read "Pluto as Shiloh" rather than the other way around, a mistake perhaps made due to the fact that Pluto is characterless from the real-life dog who portrayed him.
Adhering to my above sentiment about the questionable attributes of this film, consider just a few moments in The Stray's highlight reel of idiocy. Many of these moments come as a result of Parker Davis' dreadful screenplay, while some prove to be part of bigger issues all together. There are small things, such as the moment when Christian's mother gives him more bacon for breakfast and no sooner than two seconds after tells him to go catch the bus for school. Another comes when Mitch is on the phone with his boss and, in mid-conversation, we hear him say that "no one wants to see Julia Roberts play a prostitute," when Pretty Woman was released a year prior to when The Stray is set (1991).
Finally, for one of the bigger gaffes, on top of Christian's friends perplexingly suggesting that their pal's father play Sir Mix-a-Lot or George Michael on the car-ride to the Colorado mountains, Mitch then pulls out a Cat Stevens tape. For a couple minutes, he expounds upon Stevens' famous moment of coming to God, only in his vast oversimplification of the story, leaving out the part where Stevens changed his name to Yusuf Islam after becoming a devout Muslim. It's as if the real-life Mitch Davis and his son loved the self-sacrifice story, but couldn't bring it upon them to let people know his story didn't involve a conversion to Christianity.
The Stray is so poorly made it's somewhat surprising that even Pure Flix Entertainment, the company behind the God's Not Dead series, would've wanted to pick it up for release, much less a theatrical one. It's a bizarre addition even for the low standards set by most of their films. For what The Stray lacks in its theological musings outside of characters taking a moment to pray or thank God, it makes up for by creating a disgustingly artificial and mawkish atmosphere, the likes of which go hand-in-hand with poor filmmaking as a primary tool of delegitimizing the overall product.
Starring: Michael Cassidy, Sarah Lancaster, Connor Corum, Jacque Gray, and Enoch Ellis. Directed by: Mitch Davis.