Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Review: Netflix’s newest comedy is one of Ferrell’s best in recent time
Netflix’s newest comedy written by Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele and directed by Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, starts slow with some standard fair story and comedy schticks, but picks up immensely to tell a perfectly funny and upbeat story.
The film follows two aspiring small-town singers from Iceland – Lars (Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams). Since they were young, the two have had a love for music, leaving their small fishing town of Husavik, and making their mark at Europe’s biggest music competition – Eurovision Song Contest. Although they’re the laughingstock of their town and no one wants to hear their own music, the two keep their dreams alive by forming the band Fire Saga and entering their version of the song “Double Trouble” into the competition. At first, they’re just a joke to everyone, but after a happy accident occurs, they become Iceland’s last hope.
For about the first half or so, The Story of Fire Saga is a little tough to get into as it features the same the kind of Ferrell comedy routine that we’ve seen before. A lot of him yelling about just about everything, a lot of sudden strangeness that ranges from a crazed villager yelling at Lars and Sigrit to play the town’s favorite song “Jaja Ding Dong” to everyone blatantly saying how awful Fire Saga is, and a lot of weird costume design that looks like it was left over from Blades of Glory. Even as a fan of Ferrell’s special brand of comedy, his schtick definitely gets old and wears thin – especially over a two-hour period of it. The story itself is also a little too typical in the kind of losers rising story we’ve seen from Ferrell before and at times, the film just hits the familiar beats.
However, even for the film’s familiarity, it’s hard to hate on a film as upbeat as this and Ferrell and McAdams are even tougher not to love here. Fans of Ferrell will easily get past the familiar aspects to his comedy style as he’s so lovable here as Lars and really gives it his all. From him yelling at American tourists to the odd ideas he has for his on-stage performances, Ferrell makes Lars a total blast and his chemistry with McAdams is undeniable. Personally, McAdams is one of the best actresses working today and she’s an absolute joy here as she matches Ferrell’s energy perfectly. The over the top accents give off the kind of goofy impression this film is going for and the way McAdams makes Sigrit’s adoration for Lars, elves, and singing believable ends up being surprisingly touching. Also, her singing kicks ass and her voice, which is actually harmonized with real-life Eurovision contestant Molly Sanden, is ready to shatter any barriers in their way.
Dan Stevens also makes a great comedic impression as a Russian contestant named Alexander Lemtov and has an interesting arc. His performance on stage is instantly hilarious because of how crazy it is and being in his home filled with very phallic statues was incredibly funny. Although his character mostly acts as a villain, there’s a slightly surprising aspect to the end of his story that’s well handled and creates a very touching moment that’s placed right in the middle of the film’s big swell of emotion. Stevens also plays the role really well by being a captivating force whenever he’s onscreen and playing up the seductive and oddly supportive nature of Lemtov.
The great music and set designs are what really make this film stand apart from Ferrell’s other comedy flicks and based on what I’ve seen here, they definitely used their budget well. The sequence onstage are visually intriguing and work very well with the pop music. They’re also so crazy at times, with things like hamster wheels and angel wings taking center stage, that it’s nearly impossible not to laugh. It might even outdo Blades of Glory, which is a pretty big feat in my opinion, with how flashy it can be – which is a big compliment to the film since it really works. The music is also really good with plenty of upbeat sounds and energy to put anyone in a feel good mood. The Song-A-Long sequence at Alexander’s party is easily one of the best moments in the film as it’s a major turning point in the film as a whole and pays homage to the real Eurovision competition by having former contestants sing in the sequence. Sigrit’s finale song is also great, and I actually love how “Jaja Ding Dong” comes into play at the end and the sort of homecoming it symbolizes.
To also give Ferrell and Steele some credit, this film contains a really solid story that surprised me with how it wormed its way into my heart by the end. Sure, Lars and Sigrit’s rise to fame is one that we’ve all seen or heard of before, but the characters are so lovable and easy to like that the film still finds a way to suck you into their story. Lars’ determination to prove his father and the whole town of Husavik wrong is instantly admirable and Sigrit’s love for Lars regardless what other people think is incredibly sweet. The film actually does a great job fleshing out the love story between Lars and Sigrit and it’s very heartwarming. It’s the kind of story that just never gets old and always finds a way to stay fresh.
The Story of Fire Saga contains the kind of comedic goofiness that many have come to know with Ferrell, but is ultimately a total surprise in the great music, performances from Ferrell and McAdams, and sheer fun it boasts in telling a heartwarming tale about love and music. It’s feel-good vibes and overwhelming sense of fun is something that no one should miss out on.