‘EUROVISION Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’ is a movie that features the Eurovision Song Contest where about 50 countries participate and which has been held annually since 1956. Many international singers got to launch their careers in that contest, notably Celine Dion, Olivia Newton John, Nana Mouskouri, Julia Iglesias and, of course, ABBA, the first winners in 1974. This launched them to international stardom, exactly 56 years ago.
The movie was meant to be released theatrically last May, in time with the Eurovision Song Contest for this year. But the pandemic happened, so the contest was cancelled and the film was just released streaming on Netflix. It’s meant to be a star vehicle for Will Ferrell, who also co-wrote the screenplay.
Will Ferrell is a “Saturday Night Live” alumnus who does impersonations and hit it big in the movies with comedies like “Elf” (2003) and “Anchorman” (2004). But his star has since dimmed and his last movie, “Holmes and Watson” in 2018 was a big flop.
In “Eurovision”, which he co-writes, he plays an Icelander named Lars Erickssong living in the small town of Husavik and dreaming of being a hit singer who wins in Eurovision. He shuns his father’s work as a fisherman. His dad is played by Pierce Brosnan whose good looks are most certainly millions of miles away from Will Ferrell.
He’s been best friends with Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel MacAdams) since childhood and together they sing as the Fire Saga. Sigrit is obviously in love with Erik and prays to the elves in a mountain that he’d one day reciprocate her feelings for him. Together, they join a singing contest that would choose Iceland’s representative in the next Eurovision.
Their performance is so embarrassing but all the other contestants die when the boat where they are having a party is bombed. It’s good Lars and Sigrit didn’t join the party, so the selection committee has no choice but to send Fire Saga to the Eurovision finals as they’re the only surviving contestants.
They are sent to Scotland, the traditional location of Eurovision. They meet the other contestants, including the one predicted to win, Russian singer Alexander Lemtov, played by Dan Stevens who’s obviously having a blast speaking with a faux Russian accent and chewing the scenery projecting a macho gay aura.
Sigrit spends the night with Lemtov while Lars with Greek singer Mita Xenakis (Melissanthi Mahut.) Both couples don’t have sex with each other, but Lars gets terribly jealous. They perform in the semi-finals, which again ends in disaster, making them a laughing stock, so Lars leaves to go home to Iceland to join his dad’s work, fishing.
But to their amazement, it is announced that Fire Saga made it to the finals, so Lars jumps from the fishing boat and swims his way back to Scotland. Someone tries to kill Lars on his way to Eurovision but the elves rescue him. He arrives on the last minute as Sigrit is about to perform and Sigrit sings the new song she composed for Lars so beautifully that everyone is impressed.
The movie is a musical comedy. As a musical, it works fine. There are many good songs and rousing musical numbers. But as a low brow kind of comedy, sorry, it is definitely a misfire and failed to make us laugh. The role of Lars would have worked if it’s been played by a much younger actor.
Will Ferrell is 53 and he’s not in any way credible in the role of an overgrown man child. He has also obviously lost whatever comic schtick he has. Even Rachel is quite old at 41 to play the role of Sigrit. As a romantic comedy, the movie also does not work because Will and Rachel have absolutely no chemistry at all.
They should have gotten younger actors to play the lead roles. Even the jokes all fall flat, including the one where Lars get to insult American tourists who help him get to Eurovision contest at the nick of time. Those looking for a movie that explains the gaudy appeal of Eurovision and the garish costumes its contestants wear will be disappointed. You’d be wondering what could be the real reason why this movie exist at all. Maybe because Ferrell just wants to dress up in all the goofy costumes he gets to wear in the movie?