Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Extra Ordinary: Ghost-Talking in Ireland

Rose Dooley has the Irish equivalent of the Shine. Her father Vincent called it “The Talents” on his low-budget 1980s In Search of-style television show, until she accidently killed him with her powers. She now works as a driving instructor, constantly turning away ghost-hunting customers. However, a desperate father with a bewitched teenaged daughter will convince Dooley to return to her paranormal calling in Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman’s gentle (but still kind of sinister) supernatural comedy, Extra Ordinary, which opens this Friday in New York.

Despite the encouragement of her single but mega-pregnant sister Sailor, Dooley is rather sad and lonely. When the eligible looking widower Martin Martin books a driving lesson, she is immediately interested. Yet, when he admits it was all just a ruse to get her to talk to the ghost of his henpecking late wife, she still initially refuses. However, when Martin’s daughter Sarah mysteriously falls into a supernatural coma, Dooley comes around.

The culprit is Christian Winter, a notorious one-hit-wonder, who intends to sacrifice a virgin to Satan, in exchange for a comeback. Sarah Martin would be the virgin. Dooley manages to cast a holding spell to keep her from floating away, but she and Martinx2 must hustle to complete some crazy supernatural business to break the spell. You should really just see it for yourself.

In terms of tone, Extra Ordinary is not so different from audience-pleasing Irish comedies like Waking Ned Devine¸ but it also cheerfully sprays around a fair amount of goo and a little bit of gore. Somehow, Ahern & Loughman make it work. Without a doubt, a lot of the credit goes to the rapport of their co-leads Maeve Higgins and Barry Ward. They play off each other well and their halting, goofball romantic chemistry is sweetly appealing.

Yet, perhaps the best parts are the perfectly recreated VHS playback scenes from her father’s old television show, featuring the pitch-perfect scenery-chewing Risteard Cooper as the turtleneck wearing Dooley. The humor of these sequences is totally nutty, but they still manage to establish the supernatural rules that the film plays by.

On the other hand, Will Forte makes a pretty lame villain as Winter. He is whiny and entitled, but never all that menacing. Frankly, Claudia O’Doherty is much more effective as Winter’s deranged wife Claudia.

Regardless, Extra Ordinary is a great deal of fun. It is a bright and buoyant supernatural comedy that still takes care of its genre elements. It would pair up quite nicely with John Stimpson’s under-appreciated Ghost Light. Recommended for fans of Irish comedy and messy effects, Extra Ordinary opens this Friday (3/6) in New York, at the Village East.