Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Review
Saturday Night Live superstar Will Ferrell has reeled off a long string of comedies since his SNL departure in 2002. With many hits and misses to match, one trend is apparent: Ferrell’s love for the pitiable (and laughable) man-child and their increasingly ludicrous stories. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga makes no attempts to buck this trend. Instead, it leans into the bizarre, the cringey, and laugh-out-loud silliness. To put it simply, you should expect all the typical keywords of a Ferrell movie review.
Lars Eriksson (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams) make up the titular music duo, Fire Saga. Their long-held dream to represent their home country of Iceland in the annual international song contest is dismissed by, well, everyone. While Sigrit has gone on to become a school teacher, Lars’ only passion is his music, even rebuffing the romantic advances of his band member. But through a series of strange events, Fire Saga find themselves on the road to Eurovision. Though, as you can guess, things don’t quite go as planned.
Something as inherently whacky as Eurovision seems like a difficult topic to spoof. A show where absolutely anything goes — from dancing grandmas to singing turkeys — surely can’t get any more ridiculous, right? This film begs to differ. While the Eurovision performances are exactly as campy as you would expect and hope for, the glimpse into the lives of these imagined performers is truly something else. This is no clearer seen than in one of the most spectacular set-pieces of the film involving a “song-along” and enough cameos from Eurovision celebs to satisfy the most obsessed song contest fan.
Though not a clever comedy like Hot Fuzz or Monty Python, the exaggerated silliness of this is exactly what you want from a story written by Ferrell and SNL veteran Andrew Steele. No cards are off the table, leaving even the most ridiculous twists as possible outcomes for the tale. The comedic timing between Ferrell and McAdams, as well as the supporting cast, make up everything you need in The Story of Fire Saga; especially seeing as the plot isn’t really a plot, as much as it is a series of wild mishaps. But that’s all it needs to be. The joy of this film comes from its unpredictability and unreserved absurdity.
Along the way, Ferrell and McAdams are helped out by some big names including Demi Lovato (no, seriously), Pierce Brosnan, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and Graham Norton. Most notably, however, is Dan Stevens as the artificially-macho Russian rival, Alexander Lemtov, possibly inspired by Romania’s act from 2013, Cezar (perhaps better known to the casual Eurovision watcher as the surprise opera-dubstep singer). Though Stevens may seem out of place here, he is clearly having a blast flexing his comedy muscles. It is no surprise that Alexander is as stereotypical as it gets (as is everyone), but Stevens leans into it in a way that is just a delight.
With just over a two hour runtime, the film does drag on occasion, often falling back on narrative fake-outs for a quick laugh. However, it not only matches its titular singing competition in sheer farcical fun, but somehow surpasses it. And what really wins you over is the music. The original songs and mash-ups that are scattered throughout the film are perhaps some of the most joyous parts of the film and for the many who mourned Eurovision this year, which was cancelled for obvious reasons, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga will be a very welcome substitute.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga debuts on Netflix on June 26