02nd Aug2019

Fantasia 2019: ‘Extra Ordinary’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Maeve Higgins, Will Forte, Jamie Beamish, Terri Chandler, Risteárd Cooper, Barry Murphy, Claudia O’Doherty | Written and Directed by Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman

extra-ordinary-poster

Mike Ahern and Edna Loughman direct and write (with additional writing from Demian Fox and Maeve Higgins) Extra Ordinary, a paranormal-comedy flick starring some pretty well-known names such as Will Forte (Nebraska), Claudia O’Doherty (Trainwreck) and Barry Ward (Jimmy’s Hall). The peculiar synopsis and the cast had me immediately interested.

An Irish movie, Extra Ordinary is, basically, about a quiet-but-kind driving instructor who has the unusual ability to listen to and talk with dead folks, who most of the time are seemingly trying to interact with her and get her help (to the point of constant frustration on her part) but her gift allows her a chance to save a teenage girl who is about to be killed by a maniac failing musician (played by Forte) in a sacrificial ritual as a way to save and reignite his career. I mean, that in itself sounds balls-out bat-poop crazy and like it would enjoyable, and that’s just what it is. It is very enjoyable indeed. There’s comedy to be found everywhere here. There’s comedy to be found in the plot itself, in the extremely funny dialogue, in the names of some of the characters, and in the various scenes. Whether it’s puns, slapstick, over-the-top performances or hilarious chit-chat between the characters we spend our time with, it really doesn’t have a dull moment.

The very beginning of the movie sets the tone as we watch a cheap VHS-style paranormal “instructional video” of sorts played. It’s corny, purposefully dated, silly and yes… hilarious. The locations are lovely, the characters all offer something, be it small or big, to the story, and it moves at a nice calm pace. It is, really, just a very accessible and amusing comedy with fantasy-horror elements. The cinematography and framing of the scenes, such as sequences of the Irish countryside, are pretty damn… well, pretty, too. The score, setting up moments of slight tension and attempting to set a mood of horror or fear, works really well, and is soon slapped away by something absurd or comedic. Very well done.

Maeve Higgins as Rose, our lead protagonist, is likeable, funny and awkward. She’s great and while she isn’t an actress I’ve experienced before, I thought she carried much of the film on her shoulders. The dialogue is so well written, with in-jokes that genre fans will enjoy, to just really funny conversations between the characters. Barry Ward, as Martin Martin (seriously) is haunted (and perhaps domestically abused) by the ghost of his wife and struggling to move on with a normal life due to this. He’s very good, and his interactions with Rose and his daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman) were some of the funniest in the early portions of the film, for me. Forte, as Christian Winter, the musician, is an egomaniac, and he’s comical and imbecilic in the best way (not entirely unlike his role in The Last Man on Earth). I loved him in this film, and as a Forte fan anyway, it was fun seeing him dig his comical fingers into something new and fairly unique. He is so different to the other characters, not just in the way he speaks but in the manic way he acts, that it really adds that extra something. He is just completely out-there, and it’s great.

A riotous story, hilarious writing and a cast who seem to be having an awesome time, Extra Ordinary was just what I wanted it to be. There are some fun comedy-horror films to come out of Ireland (Grabbers comes to mind immediately) and this one, through its silliness and daftness, is another for that list. Ghosts, sacrifices, driving lessons and the long winding road to redemption, Extra Ordinary is a crazy and over-the-top blast.

**** 4/5

Extra Ordinary screened on Tues July 23rd 2019 as part of this years Fantasia International Film Festival.

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