The opening scenes of many family movies begin the same–a stressed out parent at work and a sad kid at home. It keeps showing up because the elusive work-family balance remains a struggle in many households. Parents work hard to provide for their children while the children long for more time with their parents. Sometimes a point of crisis occurs putting everything in perspective. The Stray tells Mitch Davis’ story of rediscovering the importance of faith and family.
Stressed out dad Mitch Davis (played by Michael Cassidy) decides the solution to all of his family’s problem is a new dog. His wife (Sarah Lancaster) gives the standard mom answer, “Pray for a stray.” Sweet Conner Corum (Heaven is for Real) plays the sad son, Christian Davis. Poor Christian is bullied at school, but a dog jumps on the scene–and on the bully–to save the day. Pray for a stray? You bet!
The family accepts the stray into their family. Immediately, Pluto the Wonderdog is the catalyst for positive change. He rescues, he plays, he gives the father and son a common interest. Still, they struggle to repair their broken relationship.
The father-son duo invites two friends along on a camping trip as clouds darken on the Colorado horizon. The dialogue lets us know something bad is about to happen. Through the strain and struggle that follows a tragic lightning strike, relationships are restored and the family finds their (almost) happy ever after.
The Stray is bursting with positive themes. The importance of family is easy to trace from beginning to end. The Stray encourages parents to invest in a meaningful relationship with their children. The Davis’ fight for their struggling marriage. They never stop communicating, giving space for raw honesty. Both husband and wife sacrifice to keep their family together and realize dreams.
Pet lovers will swoon over Pluto’s favorable effect on the family. Dog lovers are passionate about their babies, and the Davis family quickly discovers why. A subtle anti-bullying message is thrown in, as well as the powerful impact of prayer.
The Stray is a charming dog movie with a positive message for families that parents and children can enjoy together. Parents will receive encouragement to build a relationship with their children. Kids get to watch a movie without all the “cover your eyes/ears” moments. And you might just find yourself praying for a stray, too!