It’s generally been the case that you know what you’re getting in a movie led by Will Ferrell.
Ferrell plays a stubborn, outspoken yet innocent man-child, he’s going to delivery some witty back-and-forth improv that keeps his castmates on their toes, there will be a few hit-and-miss (80% hit) comedic set pieces, he’ll be cast against a female love-interest hilariously out of his league, and a loose plot will drive everything forward.
It’s a formula that proved extremely successful in the early 2000s when Ferrell surrounded himself with strong castmates in films like Old School, Anchorman, and Step Brothers; all of which were tentpole productions in Ferrell’s cinematic golden run.
The schtick grew a bit stale as we moved through the 2010s, but Eurovision Song Contest: A Fire Saga Story brings enough other elements to the table to make the Ferrell schtick work, rather than relying on it to carry the film.
Fire Saga Story is set in the picturesque rural Icelandic village of Húsavík, where Lars Erickssong (Ferrell) and his best friend Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) make music together as the underachieving band Fire Saga, much to the chagrin of Erickssong’s disapproving father Erick (Pierce Brosnan).
With strong comedic performances from its three best known actors, breathtaking cinematography capturing the beauty of Iceland and Edinburgh, this movie is a lot of fun.
Watching it as a long-term fan of Ferrell with only a cursory knowledge of Eurovision, it still provided plenty of laughs.
Having said that, I’m sure the movie is chock-full of esoteric references that would add a whole other layer of appreciation for Eurovision fans.
The story behind this film is that Ferrell is a long-term die-hard Eurovision fan. He was introduced to the behemoth song contest by his Swedish wife in 1999.
He was long determined to create a movie about Eurovision and started work on developing the script by gaining behind-the-scenes access to the 2018 competition in Lisbon, Portugal.
He was able to interview contestants and gain first-hand insights that, in turn, added layers of authenticity to the final product.
Fire Saga Story sees both Ferrell and McAdams do hilarious, and I’m guessing deliberately dodgy, ‘Eurotrash’ accents reminiscent of Mike Myers’ work on the famous SNL ‘Sprockets’ sketch.
After showing her comedic chops and achieving stardom in Mean Girls, McAdams hasn’t done much in the way of comedy in the ensuing 16 years, aside from the occasional turn.
In Fire Saga Story, the Canadian star shows she’s can riff with the best of them, going toe-to-toe with Ferrell and never looking out of her element.
Here’s hoping she takes many more opportunities to demonstrate her comedic skills.
It would also be remiss not to mention the stunning cinematography. With some of the breathtaking footage of both Iceland and Edinburg, at times it resembles a tourism ad – which, with the Icelandic government stumping up a million dollars toward production, it effectively is.
While it’s not hard to make Iceland and Edinburgh look great, it takes fine skill to make them look as beautiful as they do in this film. Credit is due here to director of photography, Danny Cohen.
Verdict: Eurovision Song Contest: A Fire Saga Story is a fun ride full of beautiful landscapes, breathtaking locations, and strong comedic performances. Now streaming on Netflix. 4 stars.