Early on in Extra Ordinary, Irish actress/comedian/treasure Maeve Higgins raids the fridge in her undergarments and then eats while sitting on an exercise ball. It is a throwaway scene of basic setup and exposition made impossibly delightful by virtue of Higgins’s irresistibly casual comedic presence. The entirety of Extra Ordinary is just relentlessly pleasant, which is an odd thing to say for a film with a plot that hinges on someone repeatedly vomiting ectoplasm and the sacrifice of a virgin to a demon.
It certainly helps that the would-be virgin sacrificer is played by Will Forte. Forte works best as a “sometimes food.” Feasting on his goofy schtick as the main course in a movie or show often produces “the bubble guts,” but as a side dish? Delish! He’s the catalyst for the loosey goosey narrative here. His character, Christian Winter, is a one-hit musician hiding in Ireland for tax purposes. As Right Said Fred and the Baha Men before him, Christian turns to the dark magical arts in the hopes of a comeback.
His evil machinations pull Rose Dooley (Higgins) out of retirement. She and her father had worked as a ghostbusting team in her youth, before a mistake she made maybe-sorta trapped her dad’s soul in limbo forever. The brilliantly named Martin Martin (Barry Ward) enlists Rose’s help to free his daughter from a spell Christian cast on her in the hopes of offering her up to one of Satan’s boys. To save her, Rose and Martin have to run around a small Irish town, sending ghosts to their eternal rest. If performing an unholy ritual could make that sequence stretch out into an endless television show, all stores nearby would currently be out of newt’s eyes and goat blood.
Even in its biggest moments, and it does have a surprisingly grand finale, Extra Ordinary goes for a barrage of chuckle-funny over buckets of big laughs. This strategy produces the most consistent comedies, even if movies with only one or two spectacularly hilarious scenes are more often hailed as classics. Higgins’s brand of humor is cleverly coy and drinkably dry, making her the best imaginable fit for the grounded center of a preposterous possession-based comedy. In an era where cult classics are rarer than actual cults, Extra Ordinary deserves to be one. A cult classic, not a cult, just to be clear.
From pandemics to politics, funny is in short supply these days. For about an hour and a half, Extra Ordinary hands out giggles by the minute. It has no big thematic argument, no culturally resonant observations, and no commentary on current events. It is just a charming and goofy break from reality, which feels like a special brand of kindness right now. Oh, and if this doesn’t land Higgins a thousand more quality projects, newt’s eyes and goat blood are probably available on Amazon by now.
Grade = A