‘The Stray,’ an Unlikely Story

By Dawn Aerts

I have to admit I avoid sad movies.

I couldn’t see the movie War Horse, Marley & Me, or others that revolve around pet heroes that don’t survive.

I certainly don’t like to pay good money for a film that brings me to tears, no matter how well directed, or what great actor is featured.  But I relented this weekend, as I dislike horror flicks even more – especially those that are released around Halloween.

I don’t like paying money for freak-out, panic attacks, or residual nightmares that may not go away.  No thanks.  But I did opt to see The Stray, the true story of how one homeless dog, named ‘Pluto’ comes out of nowhere to forever impact one California family of five.

If you consider seeing this film, prepare yourself for a pretty-strange story about a stray ‘wonder dog’ who manages to save a toddler, comfort a lonely little boy, restore a marriage and repair a broken father-son relationship all in less than it takes to eat a bucket of popcorn.

You see Pluto is not only a ‘guard dog,’ wonderful companion, and really exceptional, but maybe a guardian angel?  Yes, you can probably predict how this is all going to unfold, or maybe not.  While the moral of the story is – “Hey, sometimes help comes from unlikely places,” it’s also about how one animal, one pet, one little being can change everything – even for moviegoers who don’t go to sad movies.

While this story, may be published way past the end date for the film, I have-to at least suggest that this is a ‘must see’ with the kids or the grand kids, and maybe your husband too?  Acting is somewhat convincing by lead actors Michael Cassidy (who plays the screenwriter) and Sarah Lancaster, with supporting roles by five little kids that artfully play five little kids…with ease.

Musical arrangements by the recordings of iconic musician-singer from the 1970’s, Cat Stevens, really fit the time frame.

I don’t think this film written and directed by Mitch Davis (The Other Side of Heaven) will be around long – but, sometimes, our prayers get answered in little ways.  Here you will find a dog, that doesn’t appear all that much, in fact not much more than a stray with average temperament and behavior. But you’ll find much more, if you rent the movie.

The story will take you on a bumpy road of family struggles, a move from California to Colorado, major mountain storm, and a road trip and hike with kids that will seem oddly familiar.  There will be moments of innocent humor here, relationships that you will recognize and of course, your own special memory of the family pet that may have one paw in heaven.

Before you know it, the popcorn is empty, the movie has grabbed you and you hope against hope that somehow Pluto will live to an old age.  Without giving anything away, this is the true story of a stray dog – and I believe it’s true.  In the meantime, there are plenty of strays at the local animal shelter and maybe a wonder dog too?



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