"Seven Psychopaths" might have, as its official rating notes, "strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity, and some drug use." But at its heart, this film is not a crime caper -- It's a meta-fiction about the hell one guy went through to write a movie.

It's difficult not to notice that the protagonist of this deliciously original film, a hapless screenwriter played by Colin Farrell, has the same first name as its writer-director. Even harder to ignore are all the laughs Martin McDonagh gets from poking fun at the many cliches of moviemaking. "Seven Psychopaths" is just the second film from McDonagh, who made the 2008 black comedy "In Bruges."

There's plenty of absurdity in "Seven Psychopaths" itself. The name of the film is also the name of the screenplay that Marty (Farrell) is writing. "I've got the title. It's just coming up with all the psychopaths," he explains to his friend Billy. Billy (Sam Rockwell) is one of those guys -- they're all over L.A. -- who think they have it in them to write a movie. Marty is having trouble coming up with more than one psychopath, so Billy decides to help Marty, whether he likes it or not. And when screenplay-writing collides with Billy's "day job" -- stealing dogs and collecting the rewards from their owners -- Marty is definitely not going to like what results. Not when Billy steals a dog from a real psychopath, played to perfection by Woody Harrelson.

On screen
'Seven Psychopaths'
4 out of 4 stars
Stars: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson
Director: Martin McDonagh
Rated: R for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use
Running time: 109 minutes

McDonagh's dry, witty dialogue sometimes makes Quentin Tarantino look like an amateur. But it helps that such talented actors utter it. Farrell is never better than when he's serving as McDonagh's muse. But Christopher Walken probably steals the show, as Billy's partner in crime. His wife wishes he'd find a more respectable position. Hans (Walken) replies matter-of-factly, "I'm a 63-year-old who hasn't worked a day in 20 years. Where am I going to get a job?" Without missing a beat, she says, "government."

As the tension -- and lunacy -- build, the film just gets funnier and funnier. Billy ignores impeding doom in the form of Harrelson and his henchmen to focus on the movie. He says they must stage their outdoor shootout carefully. "Because you can't let the animals die in a movie. Just the women."

"Seven Psychopaths" cements McDonagh's position as the master of the blackest comedy. It's pure pleasure -- for both those who like crime capers and those who like mocking them.