Those familiar with the Eurovision Song Contest understand its decades long influence on international music superstars. The singing competition has boosted the careers of now prolific household names from Celine Dión to ABBA. In 2020, SNL MVP and comic legend Will Ferrell returns to the screen for a humorous adaptation of the competition.
He stars alongside Rachel McAdams in the Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.
In the fictional tale conceived around the real life competition, Ferrell stars as Lars Erickssong, an Icelandic dreamer longing for a chance to compete and hopefully win the Eurovision Song Contest after witnessing it on TV as a child. Belittled by those around him and his own father (Pierce Brosnan), Ericksson finds solace in his lifelong friendship with Sigrit Ericksdóttir. Ericksdóttir quickly becomes infatuated with Erickssong and his passion for music, joining him in performing with hopes of a romantic relationship following suit.
After the world of Eurovision is swiftly built, the story is largely one rooted in the Ferrell formula. Slapstick humor, tonally improvised arguments between characters, and elements of drama thrown into the mix at the right time fill up the bulk of the film. From the film’s inception, though, it feels ill advised.
It remains unclear what Ferrell and the production team’s intentions for the film and its story are. Whether they attempted to satirize these competitors and those from Iceland, the entirety of Eurovision, or pay homage in a light way, it remains unclear. No matter the intent, the film fails at all three.
In today’s climate, the film provokes the question of why these American actors are playing Icelandic individuals. Their accents are inconsistent, chemistry nonexistent, and attempt at humor inconsistent at best. That said, they give it their all, influenced largely by Björk in preparation for their roles.
Rachel McAdams, as always, offers some dramatic compulsion throughout. Her character is by far the most developed, as she struggles with finding herself. She grapples with this, navigating the complexities of loving Ericksson in spite of his narcissism and obsession with winning and proving to others the worth that she’s seen in him throughout their entire lives. McAdams is easily the most memorable aspect of an otherwise poorly constructed quilt of sewn together clichés.
Ferrell and team attempt to balance the humor by incorporating a group of American college students on an abroad trip. Ericksson’s disdain for the group is one of the funnier aspects of the film, but it isn’t enough to forgive the remaining sour tasting mockery of many people of whom the filmmakers likely have little knowledge.
In its overlong runtime, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga offers next to nothing new for viewers to latch on to.
In the continued quarantine, Eurovision is an easy watch but not much more. Borrowing elements from far better comedies in the Ferrell cannon like Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro and, oddly enough, the Anna Kendrick starring Pitch Perfect franchise, Eurovision neither successfully pays homage to a culturally significant event nor draws enough laughs to justify its absurdity.