Extra Ordinary

Homegrown supernatural comedy Extra Ordinary is let down by a dire lead performance, writes MacDara Conroy

When Extra Ordinary works, it really works. The debutante feature-directing duo of Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman take the same absurdist streak that’s long fuelled their work in adverts and music videos as D.A.D.D.Y. (which I’m sure at one point was an acronym for ‘Design Art Design Design Yay’) and plug it into what’s essentially an Irish Ghostbusters, with often genuinely funny results. 

Set in an unnamed provincial town, Extra Ordinary centres on Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins), the gifted daughter of a once-famed TV supernaturalist lost in tragic circumstances, and whose resolve to leave her exorcist days behind is tested by the pleading of Martin Martin, a local dad and widower whose home is haunted by the poltergeist of his not-so-dearly departed wife. So far, so quirky.

However, Rose soon finds she has bigger fish to fry in the form of Christian Winter (former Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte), a blow-in American musician who’s turned to the dark arts to revive a flagging career. His Faustian scheme involves the sacrifice of a local virgin girl in his forbidding Gothic pile — par for the course with the Devil, really — and when Martin’s daughter becomes Christian’s latest quarry, that’s when Rose really needs to step up to fight her demons, figuratively and literally. 

Plot-wise it’s nothing particularly remarkable — that’s the ‘Ordinary’ part. The ‘Extra’ comes in the persistent, if mild, oddball tone, with characters heightened into caricatures just enough, without tipping over into the too-far-fetched, and situations that parody what we recognise about ourselves rather than pandering to Americans’ begorrah fantasies. 

That’s certainly refreshing, and one of its strengths, but it’s also a potential weakness in that minor yet defiantly weird (and very culturally specific) situationist gags around parochial mores, Chinese takeaways and the aesthetics of Irish television, while mined like a gravel for laughs here, are unlikely to translate well beyond this island. There’s also one gag lifted pretty much wholesale from the end of the excellent animated horror comedy ParaNorman, perhaps betraying Ahern and Loughman’s influences a little too plainly for comfort.

Most, not all, of the performances do a lot to counterbalance those concerns. Forte especially has a ball as an evil Chris de Burgh — whether lording about the countryside with his Rick Wakeman cape and phallic staff or singing praise to the prince of darkness to the tune of ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’. While under-utilised, Claudia O’Doherty (hilarious in Netflix series Love) has moments as Christian’s bitchy wife, and Ward gives a comedic tour de force in the final act, even if the conceit is a hackneyed one.

The weak link is Higgins, who might have been going for some kind of lackadaisical approachability but really seems like she can’t be arsed to join in when everyone else around her is giving it socks and sinking their teeth into the heightened premise. She is, in a word, dire, and it’s only thanks to the rest of the cast — and the film-makers’ consistent vision — that her execrable performance doesn’t condemn the entire enterprise to the file of lost causes.

Extra Ordinary opens nationwide on Friday September 13th

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pete

chronic procrastinator

55,753 messages 18,460 likes
Cormcolash

Well-Known Member

21,556 messages 4,996 likes

Show Maeve Higgins this thread

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egg_

nerd/hippy

11,358 messages 3,612 likes

I used to work someplace where the radio was on all day* and whenever Maeve Higgins came on I'd reach for the headphones. I couldn't understand what was supposed to be funny about her. Of course maybe she's improved since (that's at least 10 years ago)

(* that I subsequently wrote a song about, as yiz know)

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Cormcolash

Well-Known Member

21,556 messages 4,996 likes

I have no idea who she is and I'll try and keep it that way by the sounds of it

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moose

Be kind.

18,502 messages 2,587 likes

I thought she was great in it and thoroughly enjoyed the whole film.

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Cormcolash

Well-Known Member

21,556 messages 4,996 likes

Alright maybe I'll give it a go so

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moose

Be kind.

18,502 messages 2,587 likes

Do man. Everyone I know who's seen it loved it. Do you like Father Ted and the Exorcist was the best description.

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Cormcolash

Well-Known Member

21,556 messages 4,996 likes

I saw it, I thought it was alright. It's not really that funny, small laughs for the most part.
I think the best thing about it was the editing, which was used very well and also well done in both visual and sound. I didn't like the music so much, it was all fairly standard fare, but like I said the sound editing/foley stuff was well done mostly.
I do think the actors did a very good job with what they had, and I get what the review says about Maeve Higgins having the worst performance of them all, BUT at the same time it seems to me like maybe her character is the one that kind of has the least to work with and I'm not sure how much she could have done about that. And maybe that character will appeal a lot more to a certain kind of person, it's just not shit I find that funny. Yer man playing his possessed wife was brilliant on the other hand, I'd say that was the best thing about the whole film, and the satanist lad was really good too, you wonder would they not have just got Pierce Brosnan to play himself for that one.
Oh also some of the shots were really nice too, good cinematography.
Overall I'd say enjoyable enough film that is pretty well made, I don't think there's anything in the performances that ruins the film. What is pretty clear though is that although it's all well done, there's a lack of comic timing all round that stops it being hilarious. I think that comes from the direction mostly, the directors do a good job with other aspects and there is some good creative editing that works very well but it feels like it's missing the great comedy actors and the timing being nailed down it for it to be as funny as it wants to be.

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Benny Cake

Well-Known Member

8,592 messages 2,359 likes

‘Execrable’ is a strong word, although to be fair Maeve is starring in movies rather than writing movie reviews for five pricks on Thumped so i reckon she’ll survive this.

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