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Friday, October 12, 2012

Seven Psychopaths Review

Colin Farrell (as Marty), Sam Rockwell (as Billy), and Christopher Walken (as Hans) star in CBS Films' comedy Seven Psychopaths.
Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick 
Seven Psychopaths Review
2012, 109 minutes
Rated R for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity, and some drug use

Seven Psychopaths is the new film by Oscar-winning writer/director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Six Shooter).  It follows a screenwriter with writer's block who gets tangled up with dognappers who dognapped a gangster's shih tzu.  Everything goes nuts from there.

This movie is so bad.  Having been a fan of Martin McDonagh's for years, I was really excited to see how this new film turned out.  His style of black humor is simply genius, but almost completely fails here.  The humor used here is what I call "awkward humor", "humor" that results from a character saying something outrageous or outrageously dumb, then another character responding in a smart-ass way or just giving a weird or confused look.  This is a style that has become increasingly popular recently and it is not funny.  There is no wit or skill that goes into something like that.  

In Bruges succeeded because it (for the most part) balanced the dark violence and humor.  It was original and had a lot of character to it.  Seven Psychopaths tries to mix the violence and humor completely and it turns out horribly.  There is a right way to mix violence and humor, as Tarantino does, and there is a wrong way.  This is the wrong way.  In Seven Psychopaths, there are so many excessively violent scenes that are played for humor that it gets old quick.  So does the rest of the humor.  I was bored and annoyed about 20 minutes into the film.  But, I wanted to like it and gave it a chance for the next 40 minutes.  By the one hour mark, I was done.  

While the film has a few clever twists and maybe two funny jokes, the story is a complete mess.  There is no direction or driving force behind it and with so many characters, the narrative gets cluttered.  McDonagh tries to mock Hollywood in many ways, mainly by breaking all of the rules, but he doesn't break them in the right way.  There is the right way to break the rules, as Tarantino does, and the wrong way.  This effort was pathetic.  In addition, there is no punch or bite to the supposed "satire" in this film.  The film that this wants to be, Adaptation., is ingeniously twisted, funny, clever, and has the punch.  A satire doesn't work without a punch.  Also, the main character, Marty (Colin Farrell) is completely uninteresting and I never cared about him, or anyone else for that matter.  Sam Rockwell, an enormously talented actor, has to play one of the most irritating characters in recent memory.  Woody Harrelson is criminally underused and when he is used, he is given nothing to work with.

McDonagh's humor is largely characterized by politically incorrect humor which, when used right, is hysterical, as it was in In Bruges.  There it felt natural and funny.  In Seven Psychopaths, the un-PC humor is cranked up and feels forced.  McDonagh tries so hard to be outrageous that it turns out to be outrageously bad.

On top of everything, the editing is sloppy and the camerawork is boring.  There was more than one noticeable continuity issue and it simply felt awkward.  

Though this film was a near-complete disaster, the acting from all was very good.  Tom Waits is hilarious as a crazy man with a pet bunny and Sam Rockwell, much as I loathed his character, nailed his part.  Abbie Cornish is also noticeably good in a minor supporting role.  

Overall, Seven Psychopaths isn't the worst movie that I have seen thus far this year, but is close.  That honor currently goes to Lola Versus and Haywire, two movies that are insultingly bad.  Yes, they are not complete disasters, but, like this one are close.  Seven Psychopaths may be your cup of tea (everyone in my theater was laughing quite hard), but it sure was not mine.  It was, in short, an unfunny, excessively stupid, mess that felt like it was based off of a teenager's fantasy.

-Joshua Handler


  1. Everybody here seems to be having a ball with this script and how could you not? It’s snappy, dark, hilarious, and altogether, unpredictable as to where the hell it’s going to go next. That’s what I always like to see in my crime movies, actually, just movies in general. Good review Joshua.

  2. Thanks Dan! Everything about this film would normally have my name written all over it, but nearly everything fell flat for me, save for the excellent acting. Everyone else in my screening seemed to love it.