Seven Psychopaths is a sharp, hilarious meta critique of Hollywood in the vein of Adaptation or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The story of an alcoholic screenwriter (Colin Ferrell) struggling to find an idea against a looming deadline while becoming mired in a dognapping plot that goes incredibly awry, Seven Psychopaths is touched with the deliciously black humor that made In Bruges a critical favorite. Writer/Director Martin McDonagh has successfully avoided a sophomore slump with a smart, creative and visceral film populated with astonishingly psychopathic characters.
The plot of the film is a strange mixture of absurd and mundane, featuring the intertwined paths of a screenwriter and his weird, dognapping friend. Things go awry when the dognapper (Sam Rockwell, Iron Man 2) takes the wrong pup, a shi-tzu owned by a notoriously unstable gangster (Woody Harrleson). Loaded with clever twists and turns, Seven Psychopaths is incredibly inventive and hysterically funny. I’d spoil the surprises if I go much further into the plot but rest assured that you will be rewarded for your journey.
Black comedy works because it is sarcastic and morbid, acknowledging the absurd things that are happening with an ironic eye. Satirical and cynical, Psychopaths revels in both observing audience expectations and deliberately withholding the clichés we expect.
The supporting cast brings this concept to life, including Christopher Walken playing a character similar to those that brought him a renaissance in the 1990s in True Romance and Pulp Fiction. Woody Harrleson is deliciously complex as a mob boss whose beloved dog is stolen. Kevin Corrigan, Zeljko Ivanek and Gabourey Sidibe all deliver unexpected depth on what would be stock characters in any other film.
Seven Psychopaths is a smart (and mayhaps too smart) action/comedy that toys with viewers and their expectations. Probably my favorite comedy this year, I don’t know that it will find a wide audience because it aims high, but that is why it succeeds. Witty dialogue and clever settings combine for a hysterical theatrical experience.
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