DIRECTED BY: David Dobkin
STARRING: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, Demi Lovato, Graham Norton, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson and Melissanthi Mahut
When aspiring musicians Lars and Sigrit are given the opportunity of a lifetime to represent their country at the world’s biggest song competition, they finally have a chance to prove that any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga tells the story of Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir, a local Icelandic pop duo known as Fire Saga from the tiny village of Hùsavík who have long dreamed of winning the Eurovision Song Contest. The duo get their wish however after a boat party filled with their competitors explodes in the ocean, leaving them the only viable option for Iceland to compete.
Co-written by Andrew Steele and Will Ferrell, and directed by David Dobkin (whose directed such films as The Wedding Crashers, The Change-Up and The Judge), this film acts as an introduction to American audiences of the beautiful ridiculousness that is the Eurovision Song Contest, an annual song competition that is held every year where each country competing submits an original song to be performed on live television, then each country cast their votes for the other countries’ songs to determine the winner. The question is, can this film do a decent representation of the competition and how will it attempt to do traditional comedic ridiculousness about a competition that is so self-aware of how ludicrous it can be to the point that it’s proud of it (Dustin the Turkey….that is all)?
As well as focusing on the competition, the film also serves as a love journey between Lars and Sigrit, with Sigrit in love with Lars but he’s more interested in winning the contest and committing to the music, the props and the compositions. The problem with the film however is that it tries to tell enough of the two plots, the song contest and the love story, that it is stretched out to an over two hours runtime and you feel the time slowly passing by as you don’t really feel invested in either storyline. It’s not helped with the fact that Will Ferrell does his usual comedic shtick that felt outplayed and tiresome since Get Hard and Daddy’s Home, but here we are five years later and unfortunately it still feels forced in an environment where you really don’t have to try that hard to land the comedic elements. The direction from Dobkin is decent enough, particularly when he’s filming the performances on stage, though there is a few scenes which feel overlit to the point that it is distracting. I’m also sure not many people will care too much about accents, but you’re Icelandic (Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams and Pierce Brosnan) or Russian (Dan Stevens), you’ll be more inclined to feel a certain type of way about their accents in this film more so than anyone else to comment on it. The accent from Brosnan did feel absolutely ridiculous though.
While the film feels extremely safe in the comedic department, there is a few performances that carry the film though. Rachel McAdams makes the material work well for her performance as Sigrit, while Dan Stevens quite literally steals the show as the flamboyant Russian Alexander Lemtov, whose song for the contest is just as ridiculous as Stevens’ portrayal of the oversexed love rival trying to win Sigrit’s heart over Lars’. Though McAdams doesn’t sing the songs, it’s worth noting that her vocal performances are by Swedish singer Molly Sandén, and she’s brilliant. The film does include some past competitors in a sing-a-long sequence at a house party that I thought was a nice touch for them to do.
It’s safe, predictable and has a few decent performances, but Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is pretty forgettable in comparison to the actual competition itself.