Michael Ward on Saturday, August 17
Extra Ordinary is a gleeful, slapdash, comedy/horror riff about a lapsed medium drawn back into the trade by a kind-hearted widow, mocked and ridiculed by the ghost of his deceased wife. It is also the story of a one-hit wonder who literally makes a deal with the devil to restart his pop music career.
And naturally Will Forte of all people plays the pop star.
This spirited debut from writing/directing team Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman delivers an over-abundance of ideas, set-ups, and gags, and follows through on some of them to varying success.
Maeve Higgins stars as Rose, a driving instructor, one of two daughters of the deceased mentalist Vincent Dooley (Risteard Cooper). As a young girl, a family tragedy caused her to suppress what her father called “The Talents.” Since then, Rose, and her close-to-term pregnant sister Sailor (Terri Chandler), have each tried to carve out an idyllic little life on their own.
Elsewhere, widowed single father Martin Martin (Barry Ward) is stuck trying to raise his teenage daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman), while his late wife’s spirit still inhabits the family home. Martin can hear her voice, and she lays out his clothes, keeps bad food away from him, and otherwise smacks him into shape and keeps him in line.
Eventually, Forte’s Christian Winter enters the fray. His 1980s pop song “Cosmic Woman” made him a “one-hit winter” and a forgotten celebrity of the past. Desperate for a comeback, Winter and wife Claudia (Claudia O’Doherty) have signed a new record deal, with Beelzebub himself, and now must find a virgin sacrifice to complete the contract.
All of these subplots eventually come together and for awhile, Ahern and Loughman keep everything moving along. Higgins, a well-known comedienne from Ireland, is on point with her timing and delivery, while Ward is likewise pretty great.
Once Rose realizes Martin’s ability to hear his wife, this makes him something of a contemporary and a montage of scenes effectively build their chemistry and partnership.
Other jokes never see their full potential. A great opening bit involving a videotape series Vincent put together on “The Talents” feels abandoned, or left on the cutting room floor. As Forte’s story becomes more prominent in the film’s second half, Extra Ordinary never loses its energy, but spins its wheels when comes to pulling everything together in an orderly way.
Overall, you just grow to appreciate the absurdity.