Rated: PG
Release Date: 10/06/2017
Production Company: Purdie Distribution

Michael Cassidy, Sarah Lancaster, Connor Corum, Scott Christopher, Eliza de Azevedo Brown.

Director: Mitch Davis. Producers: Mitch Davis and Parker Davis. Executive Producer: Mitch Davis. Screenwriters: Mitch Davis and Parker Davis. Cinematographer: T.C. Christensen.
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

The opening scene in the new movie “The Stray” is so startling that you might wonder whether it’s a family, friendly film. Rest assured it is and a surprisingly good one at that.

“The Stray” is based on the near-death experience of its director Mitch Davis (“Christmas Eve” and “The Other Side of Heaven”) and is a faith-based story about love of family, man’s best friend and even singer Cat Stevens.

Michael Cassidy (TV’s “People of Earth”) plays Mitch, a wannabe movie screenwriter/turned studio exec who works tirelessly poring over scripts hoping to find the next big Hollywood blockbuster.

All those hours at work keep him away from his wife Michelle (Sarah Lancaster, TV’s “Code Black”), his young daughter Rachel (Eliza de Acevedo Brown, TV’s “Extinct”) and nine-year-old son, Christian (a terrific Connor Corum, “Heaven Is for Real.”). And Christian resents his dad for ignoring all of them.

Even when Mitch comes home from work, he’s too tired to do much of anything. Something has to give. So, Mitch suggests getting the family a dog might help things. Michelle tells the kids and Mitch that the only way they’ll get a dog is if a stray one wanders into their lives.

What are the odds of that happening?

Well, in a family movie titled “The Stray,” they’re very good. Not even a week goes by before an adorable, stray Border Collie runs right into their yard.

True to her word, Michelle and the family welcome it with open arms and name him Pluto. He really does become an integral part of their lives and brings them closer, but still not close enough for Michelle.

Despite Mitch making good money, enough for Michelle to be--by choice--a stay at home mom, Michelle wants a 9-to-5 husband and a happy home. She tells Mitch that Los Angeles just isn’t the place she wants to be and doesn’t believe it’s the best place for them to raise a family.

Isn’t this a conversation they should have had prior to Mitch landing his high-profile gig? Doesn’t Michelle realize there are hundreds of people who would give their right arm to have Mitch’s job?

Doesn’t matter. Michelle convinces Mitch to quit his job and move the family to Colorado. She believes the change of scenery will also inspire him to start writing his own screenplays. He agrees and they all pack up and move to rural Colorado.

Colorado is beautiful and the area they move to is nice and spacious. Mitch seems happier now and Michelle too. Now that their marriage and family life is back on track, Mitch offers to take Christian, Pluto and a couple of neighborhood boys camping in the mountains. Michelle and Rachel decide to stay behind and let the boys bond.

The kids are having a great time listening to Mitch tell stories about life and musician Cat Stevens. When they arrive at the campsite, they go backpacking.

After a while they decide to settle down and pitch their tent since it looks as if it’s going to rain. But within minutes of getting situated, tragedy strikes followed by a miraculous occurrence.

Yes, “The Stray” is a bit corny, but it’s also charming and inspiring. The entire cast is terrific especially Connor Corum.

It’s not surprising “The Stray” received the Dove Family Approved seal for its portrayal of positive values.

What really ties everything together so nicely in this movie are the closing credits which feature video snippets of the real family and Pluto “The Wonder Dog.”

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.

Check Out This Trailer For "THE STRAY"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.


Brian's Song Title: Brian's Song
Year Released: 1971
Running Time: 90
Production Company: Screen Gems (Sony)
Director: Buzz Kulik
Director of Photography: Joseph F. Biroc
Screenwriter: Gale Sayers, Al Silverman and William Blinn
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: This Review Reprinted In Honor Of Movie Critic Bill Gibron--May 14, 1961--May 11, 2018. Pictured Top Left.

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