Often juxtaposing the most disturbing displays of human behavior with genuinely moving ones, Seven Psychopaths tries to offer a little sugar with its tart humor. Trouble is, there are just too many moments that are just plain painful to watch. A sequence involving the mistreatment of Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) as a dog walker is nothing short of awful in the first few minutes, not to mention the film’s ongoing motif of celebrating how badly women are treated, the degradation of African Americans and homosexuals, and the gory demise of people, who in some cases, were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While it’s often rewarding to see the bad guys getting their due and justice served on the big-screen, Seven Psychopaths is simply far too demented for any real, meaningful takeaway value. Even if artful at times, this shameless exercise in shock value is the sort of violent dream you’re just thankful isn’t real (but hey, the dog lives, so that’s something, right?).

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: There’s an ongoing joke about Marty’s alcoholism, which he jokes is all part of being a writer. We see him drink and drive in one scene. Hans uses peyote.
  • Language/Profanity: All matters of expletives are used throughout, the “f” word is clearly the runaway favorite. A few instances where God’s name is misused. Racial epithets directed toward African Americans.
  • Sex/Nudity: Rude references to homosexuals, female anatomy, and the “c” word is used several times to describe women the guys are angry with. Sexually charged innuendo and jokes. A prostitute is shown topless in three different scenes. A sex scene is cut short because of a male performance issue (he throws a condom in disgust). Another couple is shown in the throes of lovemaking (no nudity).
  • Violence: There are random—and not-so-random—bursts of bloody, Tarantino-esque violence throughout. People are shot at close range (their bloody faces and bodies are shown up close). The violence toward women is short of an ongoing joke, too, with female characters facing particularly grisly ends (one woman has blood pouring from her bosom, another from her stomach). A cancer victim is shot in the hospital, and we see blood all over the walls, her face, etc. Two men slit their own throats in a particularly unpleasant manner. A man lights himself on fire (and we see him burn to a crisp) to make a greater political statement. Car explosions led to other deaths. Stabbings. Gun fights. A corpse is shown lying in the middle of the road.
  • Religion: Strangely enough in this odd little movie, God and Jesus are referred to quite a bit. While there are instances where God’s name is misused (see “language/profanity”), there are also references to Jesus’s grisly, seemingly unfair death on a cross. A convicted killer we’re told has truly repented for his transgressions and he establishes a genuine relationship with God in prison. He’s later released early for good behavior before meeting a rather heinous demise. The same guy believes he’ll go to hell if he commits suicide. Another man has a crisis of faith as his wife struggles with cancer. Marty says he wants his story to be a Buddhist story of seven psychopaths where peace, rather than a big shoot-out, is what characterizes the script.

Publication date: October 12, 2012