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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Movie Review

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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Movie Review

Rating: D+ (Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Netflix

The Eurovision music competition is apparently a big deal in Europe, but is largely a curiousity in the rest of the world. Producing a comedy centered on the contest has the potential to bring it to a larger audience, but Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga still leaves one wondering what makes it so special. That probably wasn’t the intention of the filmmakers. The movie attempts all sorts of jokes, but the main one seems to be having the lead actors speak in exaggerated Scandinavian accents. At almost two hours, director David Dobkin stretches things out and turns Eurovision Song Contest into a surprising bore.

In the movie, Will Ferrell plays an Icelandic aspiring singer stuck in arrested development, not unlike many of his previous comedic personas. There are films where Ferrell’s shtick works to good effect, like Elf and Megamind. Unfortunately, Eurovision Song Contest is not one of those films. The central joke comes from his accent and the ways in which he shouts and gets frustrated. Rachel McAdams’s Sigrit is given a bit more of a character to work with and she does bring some charm and likeability to her role. McAdams is tasked with belting out some big tunes and she more than proves capable.

One major drawback to Eurovision Song Contest is its length. Despite the thin plot, the film runs almost two hours long and there is plenty that could have been cut out. There is a lot of filler, with scenes running too long. The movie attempts some drama, but these portions stretch out the runtime more than the comedic scenes do. It’s a patient wait for some joke to land, but when most of the humour is based around the actors performing over-the-top (and likely inaccurate) Scandinavian accents, it takes a while for something humourous to materialize. A rare big laugh comes from mocking Americans’ love of Starbucks Coffee, while another is due to a funny visual gag.

It’s also hard to ignore the commercial aspect of the production, which feels like one big advertisement for Eurovision (which, ironically, is not being held this year for obvious reasons). The movie even stops at one point to perform a large-scale musical number with contestants performing ABBA songs. The filmmakers are obviously passionate about the event and the joke is primarily on Ferrell and McAdams rather than the contest itself. However, there could have been some barbs thrown towards the entire competition and how over-the-top and outlandish the whole enterprise is.

Despite the comic potential and the talent involved in Eurovision Song Contest, the jokes don’t reach the heights they could have. The movie plays things largely safe and Will Ferrell doesn’t stretch his wings. Rachel McAdams is always a pleasure, though, and she’s certainly game with whatever the script requires of her. However, the film could have definitely been cut down to provide something more breezy. The final result disappointingly ends up a disposable summer comedy that will be in one ear and out the other. The final song number is rather catchy, though.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison