Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga Review

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga
Inept Icelandic band Fire Saga — made up of possible-but-unconfirmed brother/sister duo Lars Erickssong (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams) — are given a chance to fulfil a lifelong dream by entering the Eurovision Song Contest. Can they overcome hirsute love rivals, murderous plots and malfunctioning props in order to win?

by Chris Hewitt |
Published on
Release Date:

26 Jun 2020

Original Title:

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga

Remember when Blue reformed in 2011, with the specific aim of reversing the UK’s wretched run of results in the Eurovision Song Contest? Those four loveable lads — Lee, Simon, Duncan, and the other one — carried the dreams of a nation on their backs and vocal cords. Glory was within their grasp. Victory was inevitable.

They came 11th. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga is the cinematic equivalent of Blue’s ignominious efforts. Not least because it’s a long-awaited reunion of, erm, three of the people behind Wedding Crashers, but also because this muddled misfire is closer to nil points than the coveted douze.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga

Part of the issue lies in its fealty to the competition it should be taking the piss out of. Eurovision, at its best, is a celebration of Europe’s diversity and talent, and has thrown up some absolute bangers over the years. But it’s also a cavalcade of kitsch, a tsunami of naff, that you would imagine would be just ripe for the comedic picking. Yet this movie has been made in association with the European Broadcasting Union, aka the organisation behind Eurovision — and it’s hard to shake the feeling that the film has been defanged, unable or unwilling to fully make fun of Eurovision’s inherent ridiculousness. There isn’t a line here that has the affectionate satirical bite of a quip from Terry Wogan or Graham Norton. Even Norton, stranded in a commentary box by and as himself, feels strangely muted. And when the comedy, notionally of course, stops for a full-blown musical sequence in which Ferrell is joined by Eurovision luminaries of the past, it’s baffling in its oddness.

Big laughs are few and far between – the material just isn't there.

Which brings us to the film’s more significant problem. The opening stretch, showing life in Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit’s (Rachel McAdams) small fishing village, provokes a few chuckles, but big laughs are few and far between. Ferrell and McAdams, playing lifelong friends who fancy each other but who might, for reasons that are never properly explained, be brother and sister, are always watchable (though one moment is a direct rip-off of McAdams’ wonderful “Oh no, he died!” reaction in Game Night). But the material (whether improvised or from the screenplay co-written by Ferrell) just isn’t there. Excellent supporting actors like Jamie and Natasia Demetriou are left floundering, while Dan Stevens is never really given the room to make Russian singing stud Alexander Lemtov a comedy bastard for the ages. It’s also slightly muddled in its intent — Ferrell, McAdams and Pierce Brosnan as Lars’ dad (great facial hair, shame about the character arc) are all doing outrageous Icelandic accents, and there are fairly first-base jokes about life in that country. Yet Dobkin surrounds his stars with genuine Icelandic actors, and at times it feels like an ad for the Icelandic Tourist Board. The contrast is jarring.

It’s all rather airless and lifeless, and is at least half an hour too long. Sadly, by the end, there’s nothing left to do but — just like Lee, Simon, Duncan, and the other one — feel blue.

The votes are in, and it’s official: this largely unfunny paean to Eurovision is a waste of some serious talent. At least some of the songs are decent.
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