Who let the dogs out? Alum Dan Perrault did.


By Clara Faulkner, Operations Managing Editor

Get ready for belly-aching laughter and heartwarming moments as “Strays,” the latest comedy film written by alum Dan Perrault, hits theaters on June 9. 

The adult comedy is a fresh take on the popular trope of dogs and their owners, produced by the studio that produced hits such as “Ted” and “21 Jump Street.”

With an innovative narrative and a talented ensemble of voice performers—including Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx—the film showcases Perrault’s creative brilliance once again. 

Perrault, who graduated Emerson in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, is a multi-talented American writer, director, and actor, renowned for co-creating and co-writing acclaimed Netflix comedy series “American Vandal.” His exceptional work on the show earned him a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special, cementing his reputation as a creative force to be reckoned with.

As “Strays” prepares for its June 9 release, Perrault discussed his creative process for the plot. He showcased his enthusiasm for the release of “Strays” and his impending desire that it will resonate with audiences demonstrates his ability to create compelling narratives with an enduring impact. 

The plot follows dog Reggie (Will Ferrell) after his dishonest owner, Doug (Will Forte), abandoned him on the harsh urban streets. Upon befriending fellow dog Bug (Jamie Foxx), Reggie experiences a moment of lucidity and realizes that his previous relationship with Doug was detrimental, leading him to want revenge. Perrault has a wealth of experience with previous projects and even draws inspiration from his past.

“Similar to my first project, ‘American Vandal,’ I really enjoy keeping a lookout for trends in major tropes in television and film,” he said.

In “Strays,” Perrault showcases his talents as a screenwriter by bringing to life a revenge plot about a dog seeking vengeance on his vicious owner. When coming up with ideas, he utilized several creative methods. 

“I love outlining. One of my favorite things to do is watch every single movie show you can in the genre you like,” he said. “When you do that, you start to notice commonalities between movies, and if you notice that, it’s likely the audience notices it as well.”

The original idea for “Strays” came to him after he took inspiration from the trends in the film industry from 2018-19 with film releases such as “Pets 2,” “A Dog’s Way Home,” and “Togo.”

“Where it all started was really the dog movie explosion of 2019,” Perrault said. “I thought, ‘What is the best way to subvert this genre?’ [I decided to] play with the tropes in the genre in a way that’s fun, and also kind of find a messenger theme that is more important than those bits.”

The film’s avant-garde narrative also includes a superb ensemble of voice performers, including Will Forte and Sofia Vergara. When asked if he wrote the film with a specific voice actor in mind, Perrault explained he leads with the plot and lets the characters follow.

“I don’t like to write to specific people, and I want to keep it pretty clear on what the character is,” he said. “In my opinion, you want to find people to cast who bring something else to the table that elevates that character in a way you didn’t see.”

The utilization of actors to voice canine characters throughout the film presents a noteworthy aspect that Perrault and his team deliberated upon during the production of the movie.

“One thing that we did during the voiceover process is that we showed our actors pictures and videos of the dogs they were playing with,” he said. “That helped the system as [voice actors] get into the vibe of those dogs.”

The narrative of “Strays” is propelled by a process of character development, which contributes to its compelling comedic dialogue.

“It’s a two-part performance,” Perrault said. “We’re casting the dogs as well, and that was the process.”

Perrault was careful not to give away the scenes or ending, but rather gave his artistic advice to Emerson students wanting to follow in his footsteps in the industry.

“Generate your own content as much as possible,” he said. “Collaborate with your peers and keep in touch with the connections you’re making now at Emerson in your classes. Anyone can screenwrite; it just takes practice.”

The film makes its way into theaters this summer, promising comedic dialogue, heartwarming action, and lots of audience laughter. With Perrault’s creativity and the ensemble of talented voice performers, “Strays” is set to become a summer must-watch.