Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
25 years ago, 'Clerks' was the low-budget comedy that took the world by storm. Click here to relive it in Jess' retrospective review!x
review, Extra Ordinary, Extra, Ordinary, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward, Will Forte, Claudia O'Doherty, Jamie Beamish, Terri Chandler, Rimsteárd Cooper, Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

EXTRA ORDINARY

★★

JUST PLAIN OLD ORDINARY

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
10th August 2019

Horror-comedy has long been a polarising genre. While some horror purists prefer their films driven by serious auteurs, some comedy nuts just can’t stomach the gore most comedy/horror hybrids relish. It’s an easy genre to identify, but a difficult one to sell to skeptics. The blending of seemingly oppositional genres, however, makes sense from a physical standpoint. That is, laughter is often associated by psychologists to being a byproduct of surprise - feeling thrilled or startled. From classics like Mel Brooks' ‘Young Frankenstein’ and John Landis' ‘An American Werewolf in London’ to modern hits like Edgar Wright's ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and Jon Wright's 'Grabbers', horror comedies combine chills and tension with perfectly timed laughs, making them highly entertaining.

Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman’s ‘Extra Ordinary’ centres on Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins), the owner of Rose’s Driving School in a rural Irish town. Not only is she a driving instructor who speaks as if she’s constantly adlibbing her dialogue, but she’s also a spiritual medium who stopped using her psychic talents following the untimely death of her father. "What do you call it when you kill your dad anyway? Dadslaughter?" Rose’s heavily pregnant sister Sailor (Terri Chandler) asks. "I’m sorry for slaughtering you, daddy," Rose murmurs, sadly.

Rose's dad was a paranormal expert on the TV (there are shades of David Lowery’s superior ‘Ghost Stories’) who tried to explain to the masses that ghosts aren't how we typically think of them. "Do you ever have any nightmares after eating cheese? You might have eaten a ghost. Even the weakest ghost can possess cheese easily due to the living bacteria in the cheese," he intones on one of Rose's VHS tapes.

'EXTRA ORDINARY' TRAILER

Ghost are "stuck people, lonely people". Tree branches twitch strangely in her direction and trashbin lids flap at her (the visual effects mostly centre on things being tugged around by digitally erased strings), but Rose ignores them all.

Things change when Christian Winter (Will Forte, ‘Booksmart’, ‘The Lego Movie’), a washed-up, one-hit-wonder American rock star (his second single 'I Like My Hat' flopped on the charts), makes a pact with the devil in return to his former glory. He puts a hex on a virginal local teenager, Sarah Martin (Emma Coleman), which leads her father Martin Martin (Barry Ward, 'The Survivalist') to seek Rose’s help in an effort to save his daughter. He’s also being haunted by his dead wife, who writes messages on pieces of toast in order to remind him to pay the bills. Rose must use her powers to work with Martin to break free of his wife’s controlling poltergeist and rescue the girl. This involves vomiting a lot of ectoplasmic goo into jars.

The plot lumbers along as the script (by Ahern, Loughman, Higgins, and Demian Fox) gets sidetracked by many moments of whimsical Irishness from the Irish ghosts who have nitpicking concerns to alleviate before they can move on.

Martin has a few psychic gifts of his own, namely the power to channel the spirits by letting them possess his body. He combines his abilities with Rose's to allow the lingering dead to get some closure (somewhat similar to Nick Whitfield’s ‘Skeletons’). This allows the talented Ward to spin from the nebbish love interest into a slew of kooky characters, including a dirty old man obsessed with his recycling bin and Martin’s hard-smoking, nagging former wife. Ward is genuinely impressive as he cycles through these different personas, grounded by Higgins’ enthusiastic engagement with each. Both play mild-mannered folk who tend to fall into the role of doormat to more demanding people, be it a bullying ghost-wife, a brash sibling, or a boastful dad. But together, these wallflowers blossom, discovering their strengths and the power of true partners.

Unless you watch it while high on some canna-buttered popcorn, can you really call a film a horror-comedy if it isn’t scary and only sporadically funny?

There’s a reason you’ve never seen Will Forte topping the billing of a major motion picture - it’s the throbbing flameball of unfunny that was ‘MacGruber’. Obviously I’m not a Forte fan, but he initially seems perfectly cast in ‘Extra Ordinary’ as a floundering master of the dark arts, contorting his voice into silly squeals that turn sinister incantations into punchlines. Unfortunately, there’s not much more there. Forte’s sub-Will Ferrell weirdo schtick is fun at first but eventually feels like it’s woefully out of sync with the rest of the movie. While Higgins and the Irish ensemble are offering a brand of comedy that’s whimsical and warm, Forte is broadly hammy at best and painful at worst. This conflict in tone might have been intended to emphasise the contrast between the heroes and villains, but it mostly feels dissonant. Christian’s bullying wife, played by Australian comic Claudia O’Doherty ('The Festival'), is even worse - her role involves little beyond screeching.

Writer/directors Ahern and Loughman are clearly passionate filmmakers and, at its best, ‘Extra Ordinary' is a tale of self-discovery alive with twee humour and a clumsy romance. The tough thing about genre hybrids is that they have to fulfill both genres, and 'Extra Ordinary' only occasionally nails one of them. Unless you watch it while high on some canna-buttered popcorn (see my review of ‘Here Comes Hell’), can you really call a film a horror-comedy if it isn’t scary and only sporadically funny?

Despite an impressive performance from Barry Ward, this film is way too uneven - with a wonky tone, hit-and-miss jokes, some grating acting, and too many slapstick sight gags - to be anything more than merely ordinary.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 34m
CAST: Maeve Higgins
Barry Ward
Will Forte
Claudia O'Doherty
Jamie Beamish
Terri Chandler
Rimsteárd Cooper
WRITER/DIRECTORS: Mike Ahern
Enda Loughman
PRODUCERS: Yvonne Donohoe
Ailish Bracken
Mary McCarthy
Katie Holly
SCORE: George Brennan
ExtraOrdFilm
ExtraOrdinaryfilm
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Melbourne International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
After the Wedding - Michelle Williams & Julianne Moore's glamorous outing
TRENDINGWIN AFTER THE WEDDINGMichelle Williams & Julianne Moore's glamorous outing
Promised - Love is never perfectly arranged
TRENDINGWIN PROMISEDLove is never perfectly arranged
The Keeper - True story of WWII prisoner to soccer superstar
TRENDINGWIN THE KEEPERTrue story of WWII prisoner to soccer superstar
British Film Festival 2019 - Your ticket to the hottest festival in town
TRENDINGWIN BRITISH FILM FESTIVAL 2019Your ticket to the hottest festival in town
Balloon - Courage takes flight
TRENDINGWIN BALLOONCourage takes flight
Promised - Flashback to Australian-Italians in the 1970s is a bland affair
TRENDINGPROMISEDFlashback to Australian-Italians in the 1970s is a bland affair
Pavarotti - A perfunctory portrait of an opera superstar
TRENDINGPAVAROTTIA perfunctory portrait of an opera superstar
Ride Like a Girl - Melbourne Cup biopic plagued by race's questionable history
TRENDINGRIDE LIKE A GIRLMelbourne Cup biopic plagued by race's questionable history
Locusts - A low-key, low-down thriller
TRENDINGLOCUSTSA low-key, low-down thriller
25 km/h - A supremely easygoing German comedy
TRENDING25 KM/HA supremely easygoing German comedy
Little Monsters - No brains, all heart
TRENDINGLITTLE MONSTERSNo brains, all heart
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - Disney still have some magic left in them
TRENDINGMALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVILDisney still have some magic left in them
Midsommar - Ari Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
TRENDINGMIDSOMMARAri Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
Five Feet Apart - Breathing borrowed air and clichés
TRENDINGFIVE FEET APARTBreathing borrowed air and clichés
25 years since Clerks - The Impact of Kevin Smith on an unsuspecting Hollywood
TRENDING25 YEARS SINCE CLERKSThe Impact of Kevin Smith on an unsuspecting Hollywood
Blinded By The Light - The spiritual sequel to Bend It Like Beckham
TRENDINGBLINDED BY THE LIGHTThe spiritual sequel to Bend It Like Beckham
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
Zombieland: Double Tap - The gang's back for a brainless zombie comedy sequel
TRENDINGZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAPThe gang's back for a brainless zombie comedy sequel
NT Live: Fleabag - The birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
TRENDINGNT LIVE: FLEABAGThe birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
Gemini Man - Ang Lee vs Ang Lee: has technology gone too far?
TRENDINGGEMINI MANAng Lee vs Ang Lee: has technology gone too far?
© 2011 - 2019 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us