Director: David Dobkin
Writer: Will Ferrell, Andrew Steele
Cast: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Pierce Brosnan
Producers: Jessica Elbaum, Eitan Evan, Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy
Music: Atli Örvarsson
Cinematography: Danny Cohen
Editor: Greg Hayden
Running time: 123mins
What’s the story: All his life, Lars Erickssong (Ferrell) has dreamt of Eurovision Song Contest victory. Long-time friend and musical partner Sigrit Ericksdottir (McAdams) shares that dream and an unrequited longing for Lars himself. When events propel the duo from their tiny Icelandic fishing village to the big stage of Eurovision, they find themselves with a one in a (741) million shot of Europop glory.
What’s the verdict: Will Ferrell has made a career from playing sweet but hard of thinking man-children, so his Lars is a character with whom we are now long familiar.
But, Ferrell’s penchant for never being afraid to look the most ridiculous person on screen works especially well in the world of Netflix’s Eurovision Song Contest. Or Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga to give its full name. Once.
Luckily for the film and the viewers, in a masterstroke of casting he is joined by Rachel McAdams as Sigrit.
Really, the film is as much about Sigrit, wrestling with her confidence in her talents and abilities and struggling to make Lars realise the love of his life stands right before him. Thank goodness, because the movie’s oddly sweet and emotionally affecting heart can be laid at her feet.
Plus, as anyone who saw her in Game Night knows, McAdams has brilliant comedy chops and a rapier delivery. Hollywood, get this woman headlining her own comedy vehicle asap.
Another thing done right is the songs. Instead of taking the easy route of playing Fire Saga’s music as terrible and jokey, the tunes are pop perfection. Any of their three songs could win Eurovision for real.
Adding to the fun is a wonderfully louche turn by Dan Stevens as bass baritone-voiced Russian favourite Alexander Lemtov, good natured anti-American fun poking, Graham Norton as himself, Pierce Brosnan as Lars’ father, and a Pitch Perfect style singalong featuring Eurovision alumni.
So sink into the slight, camp embrace of a film that celebrates all things Eurovision. Writers Ferrell and Andrew Steele are clear-eyed enough to side-eye its utter ridiculousness, affectionately fannish enough to be sweetly sincere about its stirring bombast.
As the real world grows more challenging at least our entertainment can be anything but. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (we couldn’t resist) will win no awards, but with every waking moment having the edges chewed by anxiety, a relaxing couple of hours in the company of Lars and Sigrit might hit all the right notes.
3 stars (2 stars if you don’t like Eurovision…)