TL;DR – It tries to aim for that Eurovision absurdity, but Fire Sage mostly missed the target.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
I bloody love Eurovision, the songs, the silliness, the absurdity, you know that moment when you are looking and wondering what the heck you are watching. It is a sceptical from start to finish, but it has been made clear on multiple occasions that America just doesn’t get Eurovision, looking at you JT. So when I heard they were making a Eurovision move … I was concerned, to say the least, and now that I have seen it that was not an entirely unfounded position.
So to set the scene, we open in Husavik, Iceland on April 6th, 1974, a boy is sitting down missing his mother, with nothing cutting through his sadness until he heard ABBA’s entry into Eurovision. It was a moment of revelation, and at that moment, he knew what he wanted to do with his life. In the present day, Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrid (Rachel McAdams) have not let go of that dream even if his father Erik (Pierce Brosnan) thinks Lars is an abject disappointment. Well, their dream comes true when their song is picked for the Icelandic song contest, the winner will represent Iceland in Eurovision. The only problem is they were chosen by random to pad out the twelve places because everyone assumes that Katiana (Demi Lovato) will win. I mean, it would take all the contestants dying in a fiery conflagration to change that.
Okay … well, let’s dive in. Now for this film to be a success, it has to be better than that one time Eurovision parodied itself perfectly with Love, Love, Peace, Peace and if you are going into to this hoping to hit this level, then I am sorry. Sure there are these moments when the movie throws cameo after cameo at you, with violins aplenty and it would feel like a moment from Eurovision bar Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams are also there. We have tear-away clothes, hamster wheels, everyone freaking out about how much it will cost to host the show, and shirtless backup dancers. These few moments left me with a smile on my face when they nail the experience, but they are few and far between.
There are a lot of parts of this film that I think a lot of people will focus on, and one of those factors will be Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as our leads. I think it would be best to think of this as a Will Ferrell style film first and a Eurovision film … well, maybe second. While I am not a massive fan for his style of comedy, they are usually fine films, occasionally even quite good, but also they can swerve into the gutter and crash. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga skirts the middle ground of being one of his okay films where you just get used to the fact that he is apparently from Iceland and a selfish arse until the point in the film where he needs not to be an arse anymore. I will say that it was nice to see Rachel McAdams get a chance to swing for the fences because she takes it and runs with it here.
Where the film lost steam for me was in the romance sub-plot that permeates the film from the start till finish. The frustrating thing is that it is just not all that interesting. We don’t get a sense at any time that Lars is anything but a selfish man baby up until the last 5 minutes of the film, so you find yourself wondering why I should be rooting for a relationship that in reality, Sigrid could do a lot better. Because so much of the film focuses on this and it is just not that well realised it made the two hours run time drag on forever.
Where the film does shine is in production, where it is clear that a lot of work has gone into making those set-piece moments shine. It is nice that Iceland gets to play Iceland for a change in a movie with its beautiful bays and buildings. Though I am not sure how the Icelandic people will take the constant incest references that are made throughout the film. The performances themselves do feel like you are watching something right from the show. However, I am not sure if it is a sound balancing issue or just how they filmed it, but all the Graham Norton moments hit this uncanny valley feel that you can tell that he is filming this in isolation from the performances, and it pulls you out of the film.
In the end, do we recommend Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga? This is a hard one to say. There are moments of real gold in this film, the performances, the elf sub-plot, the constant weirdness. However, you have to wade through so much mediocre to get to those points that I am not sure if it is all worth it. Add to that, I think a lot of people will go into this expecting Volcano Man, and that bait and switch dream sequence is going to leave a bad taste in their mouths. This might be one where you will watch clip compilation from in a couple of years and get a kick out of it, but maybe not the whole film. If you liked Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga we would also recommend to you Rocketman.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Directed by – David Dobkin
Written by – Will Ferrell & Andrew Steele
Music by – Atli Örvarsson
Cinematography by – Danny Cohen
Edited by – Greg Hayden
Production/Distribution Companies – Gary Sanchez Productions
Starring – Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, Melissanthi Mahut, Mikael Persbrandt, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Graham Norton, Demi Lovato, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, William Lee Adams, Elin Petersdottir, Zack Propert, Jamie Demetriou, Elina Alminas, Alfrun Rose, Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Hannes Óli Ágústsson & Jon Kortajarena with Netta Barzilai, Alexander Rybak, Jessy Matador, Elina Nechayeva, Jamala, Loreen, Conchita Wurst, John Lundvik, Anna Odobescu, Salvador Sobral & Bilal Hassani
Rating – Australia: M;