Think Adaptation meets Pulp Fiction — with a heart! Or at least, with a beloved dog. Martin McDonagh, the writer-director behind the cleverly chatty crime comedy In Bruges, here casts Colin Farrell in the role of Marty(!), an alcoholic screenwriter who's having trouble coming up with a cast to fill out the title of his new film, which just happens to be Seven Psychopaths. Happily, Farrell's life steps in to provide what imagination cannot, thanks in large part to his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell). See, together with his spiritually minded friend Hans (Christopher Walken), Billy kidnaps dogs and then returns them for the reward. Except this time, he's gone and kidnapped a Shih Tzu belonging to nasty gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson), whose girlfriend Billy happens to be bedding... You get the picture. Everyone handles their reams of delightful dialogue with aplomb, though Farrell isn't fooling anybody into thinking he's actually a failing, dissipated drunk. (He does better with his main job of looking dumbfounded at the insanity going on around him.) And McDonagh revels in the presence of his onscreen alter ego, lamenting cinematic violence and misogyny even as he indulges it. There's enough meta to nudge the tone toward precious here and there - which is saying something, given all the carnage - but everyone is having so much fun onscreen that it's easy to play along. 2012.

3.0 stars

— Matthew Lickona

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