“They’re not taking any Shih Tzu.”
So reads the tag line for Seven Psychopaths. What movie in cinema history ever gave such high billing to a fancy dog breed? That could be a very dubious distinction, but in the case of this movie, it’s one more in a list of things to like. Although it features a canine actor in a pivotal role, Seven Psychopaths is not a dog movie; it’s a movie, period, and a good one, about what — and who — unravels when gangster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson) realizes his beloved pet, Bonny the Shih Tzu, has been dognapped.
Seven Psychopaths is the latest feature film from Irish playwright-screenwriter Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), who manages a motley mashup of movie genres — buddy flick, film noir (okay, in color) and, yes, shaggy dog story — that’s enormously entertaining from beginning to end. A little bit Kill Bill, a little bit Adaptation, a dash of Deepak Chopra — think of this as a peace-mongering shoot-’em-up, an urbane Western for spiritual searchers, a thinking person’s popcorn flick. McDonagh was smart to make a cute little dog his movie’s prime mover.
What’s a psychopath, anyway? This movie offers seven interpretations, plus a few extra for good measure. The normal one, i.e. the little dog, is a strong, silent foil for all these wackos, a calm port in the psycho storm. Bonny is her name in real life (where she’s a she) and in the film, where she plays a he. A mere pup of 10 months when first discovered by Performing Animal Troupe last October, then groomed for her big-screen debut, Bonny more than holds her own alongside her powerfully charismatic co-stars, who include Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Tom Waits, and Christopher Walken.
Bonny’s other credits include an episode of the Comedy Central series Key and Peele and commercials for Watch ESPN and Capital One. And speaking of credits, fans of American Humane Association will be pleased to see the prestigious “No Animals Were Harmed” end credit. One more note on credits: You’d be well advised not to slip out of the theater too fast. Sit, stay, and watch those credits roll, or you’ll miss a choice scene with Tom Waits (as Zachariah, aka Psychopath Number Seven, who won’t leave home without his white rabbit).
The movie arrives in theaters October 12. Do you plan on seeing it, Dogsters?
In the meantime, watch the official trailer here.