“Daft” and “twee” are such hard tones to manage in a farce. But setting it in Ireland gives you a wee bit of a head start.
“Extra Ordinary” is an Irish ghost-busting comedy featuring Will Forte as an American ex-pat one-hit wonder who has made a deal with the Devil to have a “comeback,” Maeve Higgins as a driving instructor/ghost communicator and Barry Ward as a widower coping with a haunting by his meddlesome late wife, a man whose daughter has been snatched for a “virgin sacrifice” by the pop has-been.
So let’s just say this Irish comedy has “daft” covered. The “twee” bit is trickier, but the script throws so many recycled ideas and “ghost comedy” gags at us, that some are bound to tickle.
Rose (Higgins) gave up “tat’ utter ting” side-job when her father, a ghost hunter on Irish TV (Risteard Cooper) “was slaughtered.” Rose blames herself for it. She contents her lonely self these days teaching would-be motorists how to manage a stick shift in early cell-phone era Ireland.
“Now, push down on the clutch…No, with your FOOT.”
But embattled, haunted Martin (Ward) changes her mind. He’s still dominated by his bossy, sometimes violent late wife Bonnie. She writes “You MUST pay…the car tax!” on the foggy bathroom mirror, “Dog has WORMS” on his morning toast.
And if he picks out the wrong shirt, she knocks him about. Their daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman) is done shouting “Why are you HERE, Mom? What do you WANT?” She needs closure.
Rose, taken with Martin, and touched by his plight, grabs her TV with the VHS player combo, confers with her father’s old TV show episodes (these snippets explain “ghosts,” “evil” and people like Rose and himself having “The Talent” in moments throughout the film) and sets out to solve Martin’s problem.
Only a bigger one emerges. That’s rock has-been Christian Winter (Forte), with his bloody-minded and brassy Aussie wife (Claudia O’Doherty) has mortgaged their future, and maybe their “dump” of a castle, for a conjuring book detailing how to make a deal with You-Know-Who.
Christian’s phallic-shaped virgin divining staff has pointed him to Sarah, and by Satan, he will HAVE her for his SACRIFICE.
Higgins kind of underplays Rose to such an extent that she never seems animated in the role. She’s OK with a one-liner, such as her constant quoting of ghost world “rules,” sometimes straight from “The Exorcist,” Martin notices.
Sometimes, as when she and Martin set out to collect ghostly ectoplasm from other ghosts in this ghost-riddled village, she is describing something from “Ghostbusters.”
“Oh, I haven’t read that.”
But Irish TV star Ward is the fall-on-the-floor laughing break-out in “Extra Ordinary.” His Martin becomes Rose’s “vessel” for communing with the dead, taking on the voice of this high-voiced henpecked (dead) husband or that growling dead wife Bonnie that Martin so fears.
The effects in this Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman comedy range from pedestrian but cute — a toaster cord floating, a whirlpool/vortex in a tiny pothole, a cigarette that magically pops out of Martin whenever “Bonnie” takes over — to some dazzling entities in sheets for the finale.
“Extra Ordinary” is entirely too ordinary too much of the time. But wisps of profane Irish wit intrude and tickle. A haunted garbage bin?
“My Tom passed a few months ago.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry!”
“I’m not. Tha’prick!”
Forte vamps his way through a paid Irish vacation, donning a mustache and old rocker wig and sniffing around for “the faint aroma of purity.”
And all that derivative “Ghost Busters,” “Exorcist,” “Ghost Town” and “Ghost” stuff? It’s given just enough of an Irish twist to induce a smile.
“Have nightmares after eating cheese? You might have EATEN a ghost — bacteria…”
“Based on a true story” indeed.
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content and some horror violence
Cast: Maeve Higgins, Will Forte, Claudia O’Doherty, Terri Chandler and Barry Ward
Credits: Directed by Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman, script by Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman, Demian Fox, Mauve Higgins. An Epic release.
Running time: 1:34