“EXTRA ORDINARY” is a bizarre comedy directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman that premiered at this month’s SXSW film festival. Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward, and Will Forte headline the cast in a story that follows Rose, a driving instructor that can also communicate with the spirit world. She lives a lonely life and for the most part does not embrace here abilities. Until she meets Martin, a man that is being tormented by the ghost of his dead wife. Thinking she can help, Rose tries to free Martin from his torment but soon finds that Martin’s daughter is the target of a deadly curse put onto her at the hands of a washed-up rock star named Christian Winter.
Some films let you know right away what you will be in store for in terms of tone and this movie was one that did just that. From the first few scenes, I could sense the wildly eccentric sense-of-humor the movie would be built on. I could sense the creative direction of the story would be to imagine the craziest direction they could take the narrative. Then deliver it with crisp timing and a subtle capability and the result was a breath of fresh air. This was a spoof on the genre. Without being a spoof on the genre as it had a story of its own to tell. It felt mildly familiar to “Scary Movie” however with a strong indie vibe. Which infused it with a genuine charm to the comedy. The hilarity felt unrestrained. The deliver of the material from the characters felt sincere, and it created a story-line that could go in any direction. Something that created an amusing energy and a freshness to keep me engaged.
The casting was fantastic. Will Forte as this burnt out, low-class rock star was hilarious. The material he had to work with was over-the-top in ridiculousness and he made it work with a charisma that not many comical actors could. Maeve Higgins and Barry Ward were both perfect because of their common simplicity’s. They were normal people with (somewhat) normal lives from all appearances. This made them easier to connect with in a story that was filled with endless amounts of amusing absurdity. While watching you can’t be sure where the story-line will take you, it’s unorthodox and that’s why it was so effective. The level of outrageousness continually elevates and not all the comedic beats work, but many of them do with the enthusiasm of it all shining bright.
The production design complemented the tone nicely. It was raw and lacking studio polish which was a great element. The practical-effects capture the ludicrousness of the subject-matter with comical results. Most of the effects are purposely conveyed with the essence of a low-budget documentary which gives the film a dated setting and look. It’s also somewhat nostalgic in terms of visual appeal. It feels old and I think it was effective in pulling the viewer into a setting that was its own time, place, and reality, but still very similar to a backdrop people can connect with.
On the downside with such a wild tone to the humor, it does have some moments that miss. The run-time could have been condensed by ten-minutes to keep the pace consistent. I think it could have developed some of the relationships faster in the film as well but as it was, I still found it highly enjoyable. There was an ambition in the creative efforts that overshadow some of its flaws. I had a good time and laughed frequently throughout and I recommend it if you like darker comedies blended with strong elements of horror and fantasy.