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Despite the Promise of Hilarity, ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ Falls Short – Review

Eurovision is an annual competition where various European countries nominate their best song and artist and then vote for the best overall. For many in the Western Hemisphere, Eurovision is that singing competition that seemingly comes out of nowhere that is bigger and bolder than the little singing showcases we have here.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga follows two middle-aged Icelanders, Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), as they try to win the Eurovision contest and make their homeland proud. Lars and Sigrit’s journey to the stage has wacky twists and turns that really put their music and friendship to the test.

Watch 'Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga' Trailer ...
McAdams and Ferrell as Sigrit and Lars. (Courtesy of Netflix)

For a film about a multinational song competition that’s over 60 years old, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is amazingly lackluster. The film markets itself as a slapstick comedy, but that’s only half true; it’s definitely slapstick, but it’s not funny at all. The humor is so bland and repetitive, it needs a laugh track to announce the jokes. Perhaps I had too high expectations. When I see Will Ferrell’s name plastered on a movie poster as not only an actor but also as a writer and producer, I think of Step Brothers and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy–I think of hilarity.

The overall premise of the film is funny, two middle-aged Icelanders dedicate their whole life to a singular song competition, but the execution of it all is rather dull.

Even though the movie is stacked, complete with useless celebrity roles to Demi Lavato and Graham Norton, the performances are pretty great for the most part across the board. McAdams and Ferrell are fine actors in their own right, so this is no surprise. However, what is surprising is how good the music is. I wouldn’t call it a musical because the songs are planned and aware, but there are a good number of musical numbers throughout. To get a feel for it, give a listen to Volcano Man.

Centering around a multinational song competition, the movie takes a variety of music from a variety of places and makes it catchy and groovy. The music nerd in me wishes some of the songs were more culturally specific than the typical pop music conventions of Western civilization, but from my experience, that’s just what Eurovision specializes in. The film very much mirrors the perception many have of the mega singing competition.

The lyrics can often feel cliché and overdone for comedic effect—yet another song about romance, youth, or just being cool—but this feeling goes away once you hear the voices. Ferrell sings his own parts with a sort of groggy but assured tenor, but Swedish singer Molly Sandén sings McAdams’s parts. Her angelic, strong voice really does steal the show and complements the songwriting. It’s beautiful, and you feel sad that you can’t readily sing along.

(Courtesy of Netflix)

The costumes almost rival the performances. Big talent show competitions like Eurovision encourage outlandish and chic costumes, and this movie does not disappoint. It’s practically a new look for every song, and even the background characters wear clothes that make you do a double-take.

Fortunately, the movie portrays cultures better than it portrays humor and story. It illustrates Icelandic culture and folklore nonchalantly, understanding their primary audience isn’t familiar with it at all. I really appreciate when films don’t cater to the culture of the audience, instead just letting the culture speak for itself and trusting fans will catch on. This doesn’t drive the movie necessarily, but it’s definitely neat. I personally know next to nothing about Iceland or the Icelandic people, so it very well could be an inaccurate or stereotypical portrayal. It doesn’t come across as mocking, though.

Overall, it’s hard to recommend this movie. It’s two hours of tired jokes that ultimately lead to nowhere. If anything, just check out the soundtrack that comes out Friday as well. But don’t take my word for it! Check out the trailer and see if it feels right for you!

You can watch Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga exclusively on Netflix this Friday, June 26.

Nothing but love.

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