Spooky tales of the supernatural are not just suited to keeping us up at night. They have proven to lend themselves quite wonderfully to comedy as well. In fact, I’d argue they often make the best comedies. Ghostbusters, Shaun of the Dead, and What We Do in The Shadows have all earned a spot in the upper echelons of comedy and dare I say Extra Ordinary deserves a spot right up there with them.
Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins) is a lonely woman in Ireland who daylights as a driving instructor. She also has an extra-ordinary gift: she can commune with ghosts. It’s an ability she has been trying to leave behind ever since an accident as her father’s paranormal partner cost him his life. One day Martin Martin (Barry Ward), a widower and single father, seeks her out at the behest of his daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman) to help with the spirit of his late wife whose supernatural presence continues to run Martin’s life. Although smitten with Martin, Rose is still reluctant to help. Yet when Sarah becomes enchanted by one-hit-wonder rock musician Christian Winter (Will Forte) in preparation for a demonic sacrifice to regain his success, Rose agrees, and the two set out to collect enough ectoplasm through freeing the lingering spirits of the dead necessary to break the enchantment and save Sarah.
Writers and first-time film directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman are entering the movie scene in a big way. To compare this to Taika Waititi’s comedic masterpiece What We Do in the Shadows is not just generous, it’s apt. Extra Ordinary embodies a similar kind of quirky, deadpan style humor that will have audiences just reveling in the silliness. This is not to suggest it is any kind of knock off. Extra Ordinary has a completely unique charm all its own. Borrowing and building upon many of the best elements of English and Irish humor, Extra Ordinary continues the evolution of the comedy genre into what’s probably best described as a uniquely Irish horror/rom-com. I know what you’re thinking and yes, it is as terrific as that sounds!
Maeve Higgins and Barry Ward play off each other incredibly well. Both Rose and Martin are fantastically neurotic and at times so uncomfortably awkward (in the best of ways) that it makes you wonder how much of this could have actually been scripted. Will Forte plays his best character, himself, which is a marvelously unique take on a satanic conjurer. Claudia O’Doherty hilariously plays his wife who never takes his hobby seriously or gives it the respect it deserves.
Despite the presence of ghosts and demons, this is much more comedy than horror. There are a couple of gruesome blood splatters, but the comedy doesn’t revolve around it. The best moments revolve around Rose and Martin and their adorably awkward interactions with one another. For the introverted among us, this is finally a rom-com couple we can get behind.
There are moments when some might feel the movie pushes the silliness a bit too far or commits too much to a joke that doesn’t really deliver, but those moments are few and far between. Most of the comedy is sharp and quick, and the lasting gags are if not laugh-out-loud funny, at least clever or endearing. The final act might leave some people rolling their eyes a bit, but personally I think the escalating absurdity of piling parody upon parody was the icing on this beautifully bizarre cake.
If you love quaint and subtle comedy with a good gimmick, Extra Ordinary is definitely the movie for you. It’s reassuring proof that the art of the comedy is alive and well and continually evolving. If this sounds right up your alley, please seek this out. You will not be disappointed.
About Extra Ordinary
Synopsis: Rose Dooley is trying to put her ghost busting past behind her, but gets dragged out retirement when a washed up rock star invokes a Satanic ritual.
Directors: Mike Ahern; Enda Loughman
Writers: Mike Ahern; Enda Loughman
Stars: Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward, Will Forte, Claudia O’Doherty, Jamie Beamish, Terri Chandler, Risteárd Cooper, Emma Coleman
Run time: 93 Minutes