Once a year, on a Saturday evening in May, arguably the most exciting television event in the world is broadcast internationally: the Eurovision Song Contest. Known for being over the top, crazy, and sometimes, hilarious, Eurovision has graced our screens for over 60 years. So, when it was announced that comedy veteran Will Ferrell was bringing us a Eurovision movie, it’s obvious that many people began to wait with bated breath for it to be released. Alas, that time has arrived, and Netflix dropped Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga for the world to enjoy, and to laugh at.
The film follows Fire Saga, an Icelandic duo comprised of Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) as they attempt to reach the Eurovision finals in Edinburgh. However, it doesn’t really help that they’re not very good. As the duo, who may be siblings but probably aren’t, embark on a musical and romantic journey, they meet a lot of new people, and a lot of new problems, on their way.
Eurovision, 1974: Abba have taken the stage to sing their legendary hit, and winning Eurovision entry, ‘Waterloo’. Lars’ father, Erick (played by Pierce Brosnan), watches his son in disgust as he dances uncontrollably to the song, and as mute Sigrit joins in with him. Cut to Lars and Sigrit, dressed as space vikings, running around on the lava flats of Iceland, singing their song ‘Volcano Man’. Reminiscent of early 2000s Eurovision, whereby it denounced all attempts to be serious, this shows where the movie is heading. Lars is a headstrong, determined, and over-confident performer, convinced that his calling is to perform in and win the Eurovision Song Contest for Iceland.
Sigrit, who is head over heels in love with Lars, is quiet, easily swayed, and unbelievably talented. After going and asking the elves for help, which Lars sees as ridiculous, Fire Saga are put forward into the Icelandic Song Contest, which decides who is going to perform at Eurovision for the country. Ultimately, the structure of the film is highly predictable – it follows the basic layout of Eurovision’s semi-final and final performances, with added drama in between.
This added drama comes from the singer for Russia, Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens). His song, ‘Lion of Love’, is the favourite to win, but he has his eyes set on another prize. His affair with Sigrit, even though it only involves him braiding her hair and handing her shots of vodka, is enough to make Lars jealous, leading to a climactic finale performance, which ultimately, is make or break for Fire Saga.
There are many iconic scenes in this movie, from the explosion of a boat containing all other Icelandic Eurovision entries, to any scene where Pierce Brosnan is trying to do an Icelandic accent. However, the most memorable, especially for any fan of Eurovision, is the so called ‘Song-A-Long’ at Lemtov’s party. Featuring multiple Eurovision veterans, including previous winners Conchita Wurst and 2018 winner, Netta, the movie is worth watching just for this. Even though the plot of this movie is not the best, the songs could easily slot right into the next Eurovision. Fire Saga’s entry of ‘Double Trouble’ is a catchy Euro-dance banger, reminiscent of Moldova’s many iconic entries and even their more serious songs could slot right into the running.
It’s clear, however, that this movie is only catered towards Eurovision fans. From the inside jokes, to the Graham Norton, and even the cinematography, it all feels like one big Eurovision Song Contest. It’s a vehicle for Will Ferrell, and his typical schtik (including a very overdone joke about American tourists), with other sashays into comedy thrown in that have no real footing and don’t really land. Ultimately, Eurovision Song Contest is an attempt to make fun of the song contest itself, when it could have been something a lot more than that. What it does deliver on, however, is two hours of pure fun. It’s definitely not the best made film in the world, but it does do the wackiness and sheer enjoyment of Eurovision justice.
Ultimately, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is not the best film on Netflix, by any stretch of the imagination. It may not even be its best newest release. What it is, however, is an all-singing, all-dancing, love letter to the Eurovision Song Contest. With 2020 taking away that Saturday evening in May, this is a substitute that fills a gap, and brings catchy tunes, ridiculous performances, and Will Ferrell singing Cher, along with it.
Be sure to check out more of our Netflix reviews.