Irish humor strikes my ingrained American sensibilities in a strange way, and I like it.
Whereas British comedy is mannered even in its absurdity (see Monty Python), there’s something deeply fatalistic in Irish comedy, a combination of gallows humor and bawdy irreverence that treats our farting, sweating bodies as machines of queasy hilarity. Don’t believe me? Give Swift and Joyce a reread. They’re filthy!
A new horror comedy, Extra Ordinary, leans heavily on this element (and elementalism) in Irish humor, which makes sense, because it’s an Irish film, co-directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman. It’s also a loving goose of American cinema, tipping its hat to everything from Ghostbusters to The Exorcist, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
The film centers around Rose (Maeve Higgins), a driving instructor with a “talent” — she sees dead people — and Martin (Barry Ward), a single parent whose dead wife haunts him with reminders on how to parent his teenage daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman).
Martin enlists Rose to help free him from what amounts to co-dependence on his dead wife, and the awkward, silly romance that develops between them is one of the movie’s greatest pleasures. Then things get dire when a one-hit-wonder musician Christian Winter (Will Forte) and his wife Claudia (Claudia O’Doherty) target Sarah as a virginal sacrifice in their demonic ritual to revive Christian’s floundering career.
Extra Ordinary is a weird film. It is slight and buoyant in temperament, silly and surreal in execution, and shot through with all manner of innocent gross-outs and Hollywood in-jokes. Essentially, it’s an extremely quirky romantic comedy wrapped in the garb of a ghost story, Irish style, and ever aware of itself as such.
The funny thing is: It works quite well. Granted, much of it is loose limbed, as though the script occasionally gets thrown out the window for some juvenile improv, but even this has its charms. When it’s not outright funny, it’s never less than diverting.
The final 30 minutes of the movie are so bizarre and ridiculous that you just can’t help but get swept up in the sheer gall of it all. It’s a small, sweet, funny movie that’s not going to change the world in the least. But who needs any more change at this point, right? ν
Extra Ordinary, along with a host of other newly released films, is being offered through Broadway Metro’s “Virtual Cinema” program. At 3 pm Friday, April 17, you can join a virtual Q&A with the directors. You can also order popcorn and growler delivery. For more information on Virtual Cinema, visit BroadwayMetro.com.