Director: David Dobkin
Starring: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens
Review Author: Tony
Getting hyped for a Will Ferrell movie has become a more strenuous task than expected in recent years. The man has ruled the comedy genre over the past two decades with a plethora of iconic roles due to his presence, timing, and second to none skill of ad-libbing. I casually fire off at least 5 phrases a day from Ferrell films such as Talladega Knights, Step Brothers, Anchorman or The Other Guys; but his recent roles have left a lot to be desired. Ferrell has the skill to elevate a film on his talent alone, but if he’s not supported by a strong script or cast, he goes down with the sinking ship. Luckily, Wedding Crashers director, David Dobrick and Ferrell have taken a more sincere approach to an homage to the Eurovision Song Contest.
From a young age Lars Erickssong, inspired by Abba’s performance of Waterloo at the Eurovision, dreams of winning the competition himself. Today, Icelandic duo Fire Saga (Lars and best friend Sigrit) have kept the dream alive, still producing tracks for the song contest. Despite disappointment from Lars’ father and most of the town, Lars and Sigrit are determined to stick to their dream. Faith and sheer luck has their song entry chosen for the pre-selection contest of Icelandic entries. Thankfully/tragically a surprise incident whittles the competition down to just Fire Saga as Icelands entry to the Eurovision contest.
The Eurovision Contest is very much a love it or hate it event. Some years talent is rewarded while other years flamboyancy or sheer surrealness takes the prize, mostly it boils down to what country borders most others as geopolitics reign through. The cynical dismissal of the contest does not really take into account the stunning production, the general upbeat tempo and celebration of embracing oneself. It’s no secret that Eurovision has become an LGBT phenomenon and fully embraces the camper side of life. Also, the event is MASSIVE, 2019 had 182 million viewers. Countries outside the EU are begging to be involved, and the likes of Russia (lol) and Australia have joined the lineup.
Laughs come regularly through the films slightly overlong runtime of 2 hours. While I’ve mentioned Ferrells comedy chops, most of the praise for Story of Fire Saga falls on Rachel McAdams, who has shown impeccable comedic talent throughout her career. Dan Stevens plays an eccentric Russian singer who is the favourite of the competition that year and proves again why he is one of the most diverse actors working today, delivering an over the top role with little bits of vulnerability hidden throughout.
Rather than parody the sheer absurdity of The Eurovision Song Contest, the film embraces the campiness and pays homage to the heart and the general unity that the contest encourages. Rarely do Ferrell movies let up to enforce any form of sentiment or genuine emotion, but Story of Fire Saga wears its heart on its sleeve. Sporting some laugh out loud moments and a fantastic soundtrack, The Story of Fire Saga might just be the break out comedy of the year and one of Ferrell’s best films in a long time. While there are plenty of jokes that fall flat and an overall toothless commentary that could have poked a little more fun with its concept, the film never aims too high and achieves mostly everything it sets out to achieve, satisfying Eurovision fans and delivering some great comedy along the way.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Woo Woos