Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Ever since they were young kids in Húsavík, Iceland who witnessed ABBA open up new possibilities for aspiring Nordic singers by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, Lars (Will Ferrell) and his best friend Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) have dreamed of winning the global song competition themselves. Forming a band together called Fire Saga, the duo pray to elves – huldufólk in Icelandic folklore – for success as they’re chosen to take part in the pre-selection. Despite a terrible first impression, they benefit from the fortuitous event of an exploding boat that kills all of the country’s greatest musical potential, thus becoming Iceland’s Eurovision representatives by default.
David Dobkin’s (Wedding Crashers, Shanghai Knights) film certainly has some funny moments, particularly the dirty jokes which are the bread and butter of every Will Ferrell movie. But Ferrell is the least entertaining amongst the principal cast: McAdams, one of the most likeable actors working, continues to prove her knack for comedy here after stealing the show in the funniest movie of 2018, Game Night, and of course nails the few dramatic moments presented to her. Dan Stevens is very entertaining as a camp Russian singer who opens as the bookies’ favourite to win, and Melissanthi Mahut, best known for her BAFTA-nominated performance in the videogame Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, plays the feisty Greek entrant with aplomb.
But the cons outweigh the pros. For one, the two-hour film is simply too long. Secondly, it’s too sincere – the opportunity to satirise or parody pop music and song contests is totally missed. Of course, that doesn’t have to be the intent of this comedy, but by making the film as earnest as it is and showing Fire Saga to actually be competent performers, the point of the movie is drowned. It’s a basic underdog story, but in no way do you feel that these folks are in danger of losing. Further so because it is reality TV, after all – even if their performance is a blunder, it’ll secure the attention they need. And, finally, by making this American film an Icelandic story, there’s an attempt to rinse humour from their identity, but there is simply nothing funny about the accent, the culture, or the people.
This film is only really recommended for those who are sorely missing the song competition, because there’s a sequence that reunites several real contestants for a lively musical number. It’ll make Eurovision purists squeal with delight.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is released digitally on Netflix on 26th June 2020.
Watch the trailer for Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga here: