What could be better than each year sitting down to watch European countries in a singing contest ? Frankly anything. Because now it’s almost a given that every year the UK ( who fund the damn thing) will struggle to score points in double figures whilst the other countries pile points on neighbouring states in order to curry favour whilst minor countries trot out an assortment of slack jawed, swivel eyed loons wearing bacofoil and caterwauling their way through the sort of tuneless drivel that is best used as a burglar alarm. So it’s ideal fodder for Will Ferrell who co-writes and stars in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.
Starting in Iceland 1974 Lars is a little boy taken with the iconic moment of Abba storming the competition with their song Waterloo probably one of the few memorable songs the contest has ever produced. Jigging along to the song in front of the TV like a performing monkey Lars swears to win the contest for Iceland much to the embarrassment of his father Erick (Pierce Brosnan). Fast forward to today and Lars is now Will Ferrell a songwriter performing in a duo with Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) called Fire Saga banging out the sort of melody that even holiday camp performers would hesitate to perform and so therefore ideal for Eurovision. It’s only when Iceland TV run their own competition to find a winner of which the obvious choice is songstress Katiana (Demi Lovato in a cameo) until all entrants come to a terrible demise leaving Fire Saga the only ones left to represent Iceland.
So the film follows Fire Saga to Eurovision in their quest to win for Iceland where the pair met Russian singer Alexander (Dan Stevens) an elaborately coiffuered closet homosexual who has designs on Sigrit intending to whisk her away from Lars and form his own singing duo with her. Bizarrely the Eurovision finals are set in Edinburgh, an anomaly in itself because the UK never wins so presumably it was a conspiracy by the EU the previous year to economically cripple the UK by letting us host the festival of camp tat
Inevitably Lars and Sigrit fall out and their various tribulations are followed through rehearsal squabbles and an hilariously disastrous performance which is the funniest part of the film. And therein lies the problem in a two hour comedy film this is perilously low on laughs. Ferrell’s always been good at slapstick as seen in Daddy’s Home but Eurovision is bloated and needs cutting down by half an hour as the story is formulaic with all the standard tropes as the pair fall out, romance raising its head before getting back together just at the right moment. Ferrell apparently trailed the Swedish delegation to a previous contest and this might have worked better as a type of Spinal Tap mockumentary but Ferrell is a far better performer than he is writer and her he co-writes with Andrew Steele a stalwart of Saturday Night Live which has always been notoriously hit and miss.
Directed By David Dobkin he’s captures the beauty of Iceland but the country seems to have been chosen for Ferrell and McAdams to do their funny accent schtick and Pierce Brosnan’s accent is as shaky as his singing in ‘Mamma Mia’ but it is great to see him in a comedy even though there are moments when you can almost hear him thinking, ‘I used to be James Bond!!!’ There’s decent cameos from our own Graham Norton recreating his waspish commentary for the contest as he does for the real thing and Natasia Demetriou as a demented Icelandic choreographer could have seen more screen time. Eurovision is ideally suited for a comedy but Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is not that film.
Here’s the Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga trailer…….