If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching the annual Eurovision Song Contest and marveled (perhaps while chuckling politely) at the slickly-produced, over-the-top performances of the frothiest of frothy pop songs, just imagine what a Will Ferrell-written homage to it would look like.
If you have a very, very active imagination, it would probably look a lot like the latest Netflix film—the wildly bizarre yet undeniably entertaining Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. (How’s that for a title?)
Ferrell has long been a fan of the competition in real life (thanks to his Swedish wife, who got him hooked years ago), and he even attended the 2018 event for research before finally sitting down to write the film alongside long-time buddy Andrew Steele (A Deadly Adoption).
Ferrell stars as Icelander Lars Erickssong, who, as a young lad, was immediately hooked after watching ABBA win the 1974 edition. Fast forward 40 some-odd years, and he has formed the duo Fire Saga with songwriting partner Sigrit (Rachel McAdams). Together, they perform nightly sing-alongs at the local pub, belting out homespun ditties such as “Jaja Ding Dong” (which, yes, is a euphemism of the lowest order).
Though Sigrit harbors a crush on Lars, he’s half-oblivious to her come-ons and half-devoted to his mission of getting them to Eurovision. He’s also a 100% laughing stock, not only in the town but in the eyes of his ultra-handsome dad (a stellar Pierce Brosnan), who wishes his ridiculous son would just hurry up and abandon his dreams and stop embarrassing the family name.
Through a roundabout series of coincidences (having their audition tape picked at random out of a shoebox), divine intervention (Sigrit prays to the local elves), and horrific events (a party boat explosion), Fire Sage actually do make it to Eurovision, but a giant hamster wheel and a flowing scarf threaten to thwart their plans.
[Go ahead and read that last sentence again. It’s okay, I’ll wait.]
All of that is barely the first half of the movie, and from there it only gets more crazy. But in the able hands of director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers), it all feels perfectly in line with the nutballs spectacle that is the Eurovision Song Contest itself. Throw in Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as a glamtastic pretty-boy Russian singer with a crush on Sigrit, and then add a truckload of real-life Eurovision winners in a cameo-stuffed mash-up for the ages, and sure enough, this thing actually comes together.
Indeed, Ferrell and McAdams put the movie squarely on their shoulders and carry it across the finish line in grand fashion. (He does all of his own singing, though she is dubbed by Swedish signer My Marianne.) From the outlandish costumes by Anna Shepard (give her the Oscar right now) to the uber-catchy pop songs by big-time songwriter Savan Kotecha to Ferrell’s luxurious Fabio-like mane, there’s not much here that doesn’t stick the landing.
With this year’s real-life Eurovision Song Contest (slated for this past May) canceled because of COVID, there’s probably a decent number of folks looking for their pop music fix. Look no further. The Story of Fire Saga is a thing to behold.