If you don’t know me outside of this here film blog, then it’s more than likely that you don’t know that one of my biggest passions behind of cinema is a little something called the Eurovision Song Contest. For more than 25 of my 30 years on this earth, I’ve spent one night a year basking in the glory of everything that Eurovision represents. As somebody from the United Kingdom, I’m sure you can see just how unrewarding that commitment has been! You can imagine my apprehension, then, when the likes of Will Ferrell (oh whom I’m not a fan) become involved with something I hold sacred.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga tells the story of Icelandic duo Fire Saga, Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir (Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams), who since childhood have harboured ambitions of representing their country at the famous annual event. When a catastrophic (yet comic) tragedy leaves Fire Saga as the only possible Icelandic entrant for that year’s contest, the pair go on an adventure to Edinburgh to unleash their own ‘unique’ musical stylings upon the world.
Ultimately, I’m not upset or offended by The Story Of Fire Saga, but I’m certainly not thrilled either. The film is completely ‘fine’, opting for a comedy scattergun approach in which only 4 out of every 10 jokes land. It’s not the worst average in the world, but for something that my friends and I find so much natural humour in every year, I was hoping to be more entertained. The problem might be the personal dislike that I have for most of what Will Ferrell tends to do, but that’s just me!
Something that is enjoyable is the music, from campy ABBA sing alongs to some fun original tracks that I know I’m going to be searching for on Spotify before the week is out. The music and the performances don’t necessarily capture the real joy of what Eurovision is all about, but they are an enjoyable interlude between the Ferrell-esque comedy that doesn’t always land for me.
I don’t think anyone in the world would expect a film about the Eurovision Song Contest to be anything other than silly, and The Story Of Fire Saga is definitely that. There are certain corners of the Eurovision community that are raging about the several factual errors within the narrative, but I honestly don’t care about any of that. It’s not a documentary y’all. The film’s biggest crime is being thirty minutes too long. Nobody needed two hours of this, and that fat that could have been cut just might have made the jokes that did work stand out more.
As I’ve said above, Will Ferrell just isn’t my cup of tea, which in turn means that Lars Erickssong isn’t either. I can understand the appeal, and I don’t argue the comic chops, it’s just really not my style, and I soon started to find Lars as grating as the man who was playing him.
Pretty much everything I liked in the movie involved Rachel McAdams to some extent. Funny in her own right, she plays something of the straight man to Ferrell and her quieter brand of comedy is funnier in my opinion. Don’t worry, I’m not unaware of the fact that Will Ferrell wrote the entire thing, I just preferred McAdam’s delivery and on screen presence. The pair play off of each other in some fun ways, I think McAdams makes Ferrell a little more bearable from a personal standpoint!
Filling out the cast in prominent supporting roles are the likes of Pierce Brosnan as Lars’ embarrassed but eventually won over father and Dan Stevens as the year’s Russian contestant who takes Sigrit under his wing. Everybody is fine if not totally remarkable, and the filmmakers have seriously missed a trick not getting Brosnan to have a little go, no matter how dreadful, at Waterloo!
For real Eurovision fans, there is some fun to be had in the countless cameos made by famous figures in the contest’s history. Past winners including Conchita Wurst, Alexander Rybak, Netta and Salvador Sobral are most recognisable, but I am sure there were plenty that I even missed myself.
Overall, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga feels like the kind of film that people who don’t know anything about Eurovision will enjoy for its silliness and camp, and people who do know something about Eurovision will see as a sort of cheap imitation of something that is actually much more fun and special. Not at all helped by my mood of disappointment that this year’s real contest fell victim to the bastard ‘Rona. I didn’t hate it by any means, but I have no desire to ever see it again. The soundtrack on Spotify though? Well, that might be a different matter…