Review: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

Directed by: David Dobkin | 123 minutes | comedy, music | Actors: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Mikael Persbrandt, Pierce Brosnan, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Melissanthi Mahut, Joi Johannsson, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Demi Lovato, Graham Norton, Jamie Demetriou, Jon Kortajarena, Elina Alminas, Alinfrun Rose Petersdottir, Christopher Jeffers, Rebecca Harrod, Josh Zare, Bobby Lockwood, Eleanor Williams

Lars and Sigrid are two Icelandic musicians, in the broadest sense of the word. They form a kind of wedding and party band, with a repertoire of covers and the home-baked crowd pleaser ‘Ja Ja Ding Dong’. But the duo has bigger plans: they want to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. The selection competition does not go well, but then fate intervenes. A boat carrying just about the entire Icelandic music scene explodes, and with no surviving competition, Lars and Sigrid are allowed to go to Edinburgh for the semifinals.

‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’ is a silly romantic comedy about the well-known pan-European phenomenon. Whether that’s a good idea is another matter. Something that is already as idiotic as the Eurovision Song Contest does not need jokes to be able to laugh about it. Fortunately, the jokes are hardly laughable either. Jokes about big penises and small balls, lots of silly stuff about Icelandic phenomena like elves and whales, and a lot of imposed physical humor.

The bigger problem is that the film appeals to a comedy sub-genre that is much more complicated than you might initially think. It’s the kind of silly movie with slightly silly characters, like the timeless ‘There’s Something about Mary’. The characters in this genre are already so idiotic that it’s best to play them modestly. Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams do not succeed in that, rather they thicken it a bit. Also the visual jokes are overemphasized, while they would work better as backgrounds (as in the unforgettable ‘Top Secret!’ where in the background of a scene in a park is a statue of a huge pigeon on which all small people land) .

Everything shows that this comedy was made by Americans, who only know the European clichés. Iceland is portrayed as a culturally backward country, while relatively speaking it has one of the most vibrant European cultures. But the song contest itself is also presented here at its simplest, as a colorful campy musical farce. The only thing this comedy has done well is to coincide with its subject matter. ‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’ is equally poor quality, corny, kitschy, silly and way too long. One and a half points for this misfire, for that one successful joke and that half-successful song.

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