Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) is a writer struggling to finish his latest screenplay. He doesn’t stay stumped for long as his well-meaning best friend, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), a part-time actor who moonlights as a dog-napper, designs an intricate game to ignite Marty’s imagination.
Holy moly; I cannot remember the last time I’ve had such a blast at the movies! Seven Psychopaths takes the gangster/revenge/sad sack caught in the wrong place at the wrong time plot and flips it on its head, with astounding results. What could’ve been a typical shoot ‘em up flick gets the Pulp Fiction treatment – complete with Tarantino-esque rapid-fire dialogue, humor, pop culture references, folklore and graphic violence so over the top that it edges into videogame territory. Throw in a nod to Adaptation with the film within a film storyline and you’ve got a helluva a lot of fun packed into two hours.
This is writer/director Martin McDonagh’s third film and his second collaboration with Colin Farrell (the first being In Bruges). His screenplay is witty and fresh, and his directing style adds clarity to a layered plot. Though he seems to be influenced by the aforementioned Quentin Tarantino and Charlie Kaufman, McDonagh does more than ape their style. It takes a deft hand to join their ranks and this offering will surely cement his status.
Please, just tell me I’m as cute as the dog!
Of course McDonagh is aided by a wildly talented cast. Farrell is uber-appealing as the bumbling follower to Rockwell, who nails this role with his character’s crazed good intentions. (One can’t help but wonder if Billy’s last name is a nod to Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle. His off the hook antics certainly fit the bill!) Of course the beloved Woody Harrelson, as mafia head Charlie Costello, and Christopher Walken, as Hans, are welcome additions to any movie. Crooner Tom Waits has a small but pivotal role as vigilante Zachariah Rigby. The female characters (Abbie Cornish as Kaya, Olga Kurylenko as Angela and Gabourey Sidibe as Sharice) are underdeveloped and underutilized – but the screenplay acknowledges this in a unique and hilarious way.
There are some serious moments mixed in with the hijinks, and the violence is not for the faint of heart – but this still heralds the onslaught of fall’s quality films mixed with summer’s blockbuster thrills.
Take a Drink: every time someone’s head explodes. Yep, literally.
Take a Drink: every time Billy acts out a scene within a scene.
Take a Drink: every time Bonny the Shih Tzu gets screen time. Man, that thing is cute! Need more? Apparently Bonny has a Facebook page so you don’t have to go too long without a fix.
Take a Drink: every time Billy references Marty’s alcoholism. Err… maybe not!
Take a Shot: every time it appears that Colin Farrell’s eyebrows have a life of their own.
There’s a brief scene that wraps up a storyline at the top of the credits, but no need to stick it out to the bitter end.