Starring Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan,
Austin Family Critical Rating: *** ½ of *****
Austin Family Family-Friendly Rating: *** ½ of *****
David Dobkin’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a truly enjoyable comedy, with one of those hilariously long, overly-specific titles you’d expect from star Will Ferrell (see also Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby). In Eurovision, Ferrell and Rachel McAdams play Icelandic musicians Lars and Sigrit, both lead singers in the less-than-stellar band Fire Saga. They’re a bit of a joke in their small town community, but nevertheless, Lars dreams of performing at the Eurovision Song Contest – and Sigrit, hoping to win Lars’s love once his dream is realized, is with him every step of the way.
Due to a stroke of luck, Lars and Sigrit are not only selected to perform in the Icelandic semi-finals, but when all of the other contestants are blown up on a boat, they advance to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm. For those unfamiliar with the real-life Eurovision Song Contest (as I was), this movie gives you a fascinating glimpse at the gaudy experience.
If the movie doesn’t always work as a gut-busting Will Ferrell comedy, it makes up for it by illustrating what this extravagant contest is like. The production value and musical numbers on display here are exceptional, and after a while, I just started enjoying the film not as an absurd comedy, but as an entertaining underdog story set against a larger-than-life event.
The music is fantastic (Fire Saga’s songs, for what it’s worth, are actually pretty great), and Ferrell and McAdams work really well together. McAdams, in particular, continues to show so much range – not many performers could pull off both this film and something like Spotlight (2015). Pierce Brosnan is slightly underused as Ferrell’s father (they missed an opportunity by not having him sing), and Dan Stevens is wildly entertaining as the Russian superstar aiming to win Sigrit’s heart.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is now streaming on Netflix, and the film is rated PG-13 for some brief sexual references and mild language. I’d recommend the movie for ages ten and above.
Review by Jack Kyser, a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.