For some things, being a fan is almost like being part of a cult, it makes the utmost sense to you but not very much to others. And when it comes to the Eurovision song contest, it is one hell of a wild, weird, embracing and wonderful world to immerse yourself in. Arguably no movie can capture what Eurovision is because it is in itself magical, parodic and downright bonkers but in the unlikely and unexpected delight that is Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga we have a movie befitting of Eurovision.
Hailing from the town of Húsavík in Iceland, best friends since childhood Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) and Lars (Will Ferrell) have lifelong lofty dreams of not only entering but winning the Eurovision song contest and come 2020, call it fate, hope or a miracle but they get the chance to sing on the big stage for their country as duo Fire Saga. However, will the journey be all they ever dreamed of?
From the moment a dream sequence plays out early in the film, seeing our leads in a dramatic music video called “Volcano Man”, you know exactly what you have here and it is just what we need in a year as dreadful as this one. Eurovision is a mad film with a great big heart, which is about the power of belief, not just in yourself but others, and a film that is as unlikely an America-backed picture to come along in quite some time. In spite of many names in the cast not being from the respective countries, this is a rather respectful look at cultures (the Icelandic especially), their beliefs and the unifying power of music and why being different from the norm (whatever that is) can be the greatest thing of all.
Fans are sure to be in absolute heaven here because, while it is a heck of a chock full movie, and while some things don’t click, it holds a mirror up to what Eurovision is and attempts to match that gleeful spectacle onscreen. Director David Dobkin unleashes a number of well structured music numbers and fun set pieces, as Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele’s screenplay keeps on running. Featuring an array of fun cameos from notable past contestants and with an absolute ear worm of a soundtrack (and sweet score by Atli Övarsson) perfectly capturing Eurovision and creating a number of songs certain to be on your mind for days, it’s ecstatic from the get go. Plus, considering fans didn’t get the real thing this year, this Netflix flick will be even more welcome to the eyes, ears and heart of viewers.
Ferrell has a mixed bag of movies under his belt, from the highs of Step Brothers, The Other Guys and Anchorman, to the lows of Holmes & Watson and Daddy’s Home 2 but Eurovision is really rather boisterous, charming and uplifting fun. Ferrell and McAdams lead an up for it cast – including excellent turns by Dan Stevens, Pierce Brosnan and Melissanthi Mahut – with proper gusto and McAdams especially is fabulous.
Admittedly it runs long at over 2 hours and there is an almost overpowering deluge of Eurovision-inspired ideas and sub-plots here to consume but there are some big laughs (“the elves went too far” scene is a cracker) in this Blades of Glory meets Father Ted’s “A Song for Europe” and by the end you may even find yourself ever so moved by the film’s sweetness and poignantly simple sentiment.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is high camp, high energy and stuffed with gleeful stuff, sure not everything works but overall it’s really quite lovably bonkers, heartfelt and charming…yep, it’s a Eurovision movie alright.