Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, is supposed to be a stupid movie.
One of those feel-good rom coms that is so ridiculous it is actually a good watch. And on some level, the film isn’t completely terrible – as a source of background noise, this light-hearted musical comedy is absolutely watchable. But in attempting to meet the ‘so stupid it’s classic’ aim, this over-the-top satire of the already drama filled Eurovision show really gives nothing but a few cheap laughs in exchange for two hours of brain-rot.
The movie follows two small-town Icelandic singers and childhood friends, Lars Erickssong (played by Will Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdóttir (played by Rachel McAdams), as the tragically disorganised musical duo fight against the odds to compete in the international Eurovision competition. With some bumps and trials along the way, that test Lars and Sigrit’s friendship, the film takes a comic look at the harsh and competitive world of show biz.
Full of actual Eurovision references and Easter eggs, including guest appearances from real-life contestants Alexander Rybak, Conchita Wurst, and Netta, the premise seems interesting (even if there is a considerable amount of dramatic license employed). Yet the execution of the story on screen is rather disappointing. Full of over-played sexual jokes and heavy uses the unrequited love plot to create some semblance of emotion, the script is rather basic. In fact, the sexually confused relationship between the quasi-siblings Lars and Sigrit is really more creepy than anything else.
Elements of slapstick comedy and the sing-along bit seem to draw a lot from the Pitch Perfect movies, but the similarities stop there with the glittery and dramatically exaggerated characters coming off as just plain cringeworthy. One thing the movie does have going for it is the singing - there is a decent belt or two from Demi Lovato’s appearance on stage (before she briefly comes back for a couple stints as a fiery ghost which adds more weird than value to the plot), the Russian contestant Alexander Lemtov’s (played by Dan Stevens) shirtless ‘Lion of Love’ is done brilliantly crooned by Swedish singer Erik Mjönes, and the high ending notes of Sigrit’s ‘Husavik’ are dazzlingly done by Swedish pop star Molly Sandén. Even Lars and Sigrit’s much requested ‘Ja Ja Ding Dong’ is catchy.
But the measure of ‘good’ within the film itself seems to value volume over talent and technique, without providing any real criticism of Eurovision. The overly long film is much too timid and is rather a substandard satire. The fake accents are so tragic that they are almost offensive, the criticisms of “everybody hates UK, so zero points” are oddly contradicted by the fact that the contest is held in Edinburgh (which either means the writers forgot Scotland is part of the UK, or this movie exists in an alternate universe where the Scots are independent?), and the shouting match between the Will Ferrell and a group of American tourists is plain unfunny. Not to mention, there is so much random undeveloped content about elves and murder, it feels like the concept was a single-season series poorly condensed into a silver screen script.
Graham Norton did bring his A-game with decent sassy comedy, but the script did him a disservice. The film similarly wastes the talent of good actors like Dan Stevens, Rachel McAdams, and Melissanthi Mahut. Pierce Brosnan is well-cast in the role of disapproving father, if not given much space to shine. As for Will Ferrell, he is in his element with this kind of second-rate comedy, and despite the tragic overall outcome it doesn’t seem like any more could be expected from him.
Still, while Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga seems a tragic waste of a good idea, all in all it’s alright for a mind-numbing distraction.