Extra Ordinary [TADFF Review]

I should’ve known what we were going to watch after the great (and funny) short film that played before our screening of Extra Ordinary. But nothing could have prepared me for the non-stop jokes and the total bunker film that it was. Coming from Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, in their directorial feature debut, Extra Ordinary benefits from an all-star cast that makes the film what it is.

After a tragedy she caused took her father from her when she was a child, Rose (Maeve Higgins) abandoned her supernatural talent and became an ordinary driving instructor. But when faith brings her back to her past, she is forced to help a widowed Martin Martin (Barry Ward) in getting his daughter out of a virgin sacrifice and banish his dead wife whose spirit refuses to leave him and the house she died in. She must reconnect with her past and allow herself to feel again in order to save an innocent girl who didn’t ask to be put in this situation.

Extra Ordinary knows the type of tropes that are often used in the story it tells but it never lets itself fall into the traps that the genre set. Because it walks away from them, it becomes full of life and heart that would not have been there otherwise. It plays on classic shots but also feels like it’s own thing. The comedy hits hard and even the misses still manage to bring you a few chuckles. The one thing that makes Extra Ordinary a little less enjoyable is that it does drag on, in the middle in particular. The story had this point seems to fall into a standstill and doesn’t move as fluidly as it had before and after.

The film benefits greatly from the stellar cast it boasts. While in other films Will Forte’s (The Last Man On Earth, Saturday Night Live) Christian Winter would have felt to have been in another film completely but because every character is as bonkers as him, Forte is allowed to shine completely, delivering a wild and entertaining performance. But the film really belongs to Maeve Higgins, she owns every scene she is in and blends perfectly humour, drama and heart. Rose wears her heart on her sleeves and Higgins sells it perfectly. Rose could have been annoying but she never is because of the choices Higgins made. Now it is impossible to know how much of the film was actually scripted and how much was actually improvised but whatever that percentage was it doesn’t matter because of the film and the acting blends perfectly.

Extra Ordinary could have been a mess but it really isn’t. From the filmmaking to the acting and without forgetting the story, it really is capable of elevating itself and becoming a film that goes against expectations. It never feels like too much and instead is balanced really well. Plus it boasts one of my favourite endings to a comedy in a very long time, packing a finale punch like almost nothing before.

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