“Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” Movie Review


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     For well over two decades, Will Ferrell has stepped into the shoes of dozens of memorable film and television characters, while also giving us a few we’d rather forget.  Those which come to mind on the positive side would obviously include his turns in 2004’s “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”, 2006’s “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”, and 2007’s “Blades of Glory” just to name a few. But his latest might finally rival the kind of hilarity level not seen since his days on Saturday Night Live where sketches like “More Cowbell” regularly had audiences laughing until it hurt.  From the first moments of “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”, which sees Ferrell once again hamming it up, this time as one half of an Icelandic pop duo who longs to make it to the big time, while singing a tune called “Volcano Man”, you instantly know you’re in for a potential classic, even if the rest of the film never really reaches those heights.

     Ferrell is joined by Rachel McAdams, playing Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir,  and forming the band Fire Saga, who up until the events of the film performed regularly at a local pub in Iceland while honing their craft in Lars’ father’s basement.  But their present career status doesn’t stop them from dreaming big, as they aspire to someday compete in the popular Eurovision Song Contest, a sort of America’s Got Talent competition that sees singing acts representing their respective countries in a lavish high end production viewed and adored by millions.  And even though the competition is actually real, the entire story here is played as a farce with both Ferrell and McAdams adopting strange and over the top Icelandic accents that couldn’t help but remind me of Ferrell’s voice in his memorable Professor Klarvin SNL sketches.

     Complete with a series of ghastly and extravagant production numbers, “Pitch Perfect” style break outs into song, and even a plot thread centered around mystical elves, there isn’t much within the story that requires any level of seriousness by the viewer.  Ferrell’s trademark antics and underdog character traits are on full display at all times.  He’s the same oversized goof that has defined many of his characters, but the difference here is the infusion of a female lead who is every bit as game in achieving stratospheric levels of buffoonery as he is.  Make no mistake, this is Rachel McAdams movie.  Will Ferrell, with his shtick now all too common, is merely an observer most of the time.

     It shouldn’t be lost on the audience that Lars looks a bit old to be living in his father’s basement.  The town views him as a joke, laughing out loud when his frequent blunders have regularly been on display within a town where everyone knows each other.  Sigrit may very well have the ability to reign him in, but the couple doesn’t seem to possess the kind of chemistry necessary for an actual romantic relationship.  Something that is complicated by the fact everyone in the town believes they are brother and sister due to the exploits of Lars’ father, Erick (Pierce Brosnan, who thankfully doesn’t sing in the film).  At their age, the two seem to be meandering through life hoping for a big break, which ultimately comes, as we are shown, through pure luck.

     When a tragedy literally kills their competition, Fire Saga is invited to the Eurovision Song Contest as Iceland’s entrant.  But even with the gloss of a high end production, Lars and Sigrit seem destined for failure every time they perform on stage.  It’s the standard storyline that has fueled nearly all of Ferrell’s characters, but here he has an equal partner to share in the constant misery, before both ultimately find a way to succeed in the end.  Getting there, via a script by Ferrell and SNL vet Andrew Steele, is a bumpy and uneven ride at times, leaving “Wedding Crashers” director David Dobkin with the inclusion of several scenes that contribute to a bloated 123 minute running time.  The film will achieve some momentum, but then suddenly come to a crawl with needless exposition and a series of silly subplots which do not have any impact on the outcome.

     Dobkin has; however, achieved an entertaining entry into what can only be described as one downer of a summer for obvious reasons.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be at a lavish gathering of all the competition’s rather garish entrants and witness the many talented performers in the room suddenly break out into song, belting out tunes including Cher’s “Believe”, and the obvious inclusion of Abba’s “Waterloo”?  It’s the kind of sequence that will put a smile on anyone’s face.  Something we could all use a little more of these days.  GRADE: B