If you told me that a North American film centred around the Eurovision Song Contest would not only be funny and entertaining but also capture the spirit of Eurovision, I’d have said you’re dreaming… Then, out comes Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga to prove me wrong and become the Eurovision contest we didn’t get in 2020.
The film follows the journey of two aspiring musicians, Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) who are given the opportunity to represent Iceland at the Eurovision Song Contest, sending both of them on a journey to finally achieve their lifelong dreams. The story can be campy at times and does touch on some ridiculous beats, but it also captures a lot of humour and heart and is a genuinely fun ride from beginning to end. Within minutes you get a good idea of what makes our main characters tick, what they value and what they aspire to be. It’s a well executed beginning as it gets you wholly on the side of these characters whose journey the entire film hinges on.
From there, each act is balanced with equal amounts of heart, comedy, emotion and twists in the story to keep you thoroughly engaged the whole way through. There are a couple of moments where the story dips in quality, and I believe that comes down to the movie being just a tad too long at two hours. There’s a section within the second act and one during the transition into the third where it slows down a little too much, breaking up the largely quick pace that kept things moving. However, these sections are short-lived and the story quickly gets back on track, putting a massive smile back on your face by channeling the energy of the Eurovision Song Contest.
That’s one element I was really curious to see; if this film could make me feel like I’m watching the Eurovision Song Contest or just a film loosely based on a competition that is something like Eurovision. Thankfully, this movie manages to successfully emulate the magic, the energy and the spirit of Eurovision through almost every scene. Whether it’s the references to ABBA’s ‘Waterloo‘ or the many Eurovision contestant cameos, this feels like watching Eurovision (albeit in a much smaller form, and one that’s not real). Even the music is just fantastic, with a number of original songs either capturing what makes a great Eurovision song or paying homage to classic Eurovision songs of the past. You can tell there is a tonne of respect for Eurovision in the making of this film, and as a fan, I love that.
When it comes to the cast, Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams put on their best Icelandic accent and it’s not jarring or, to an extent, noticeable for the entire duration of the film. Rachel McAdams is stellar throughout this whole film. She’s consistently funny and really successfully executes the more emotional moments to bring that heart into the story. Her character has a great personal journey that gives her more to do and show more range than what Will’s character is up to. Going into the film, I was worried that Will would fall into his usual schtick and just deliver another purely ridiculous character. However, there’s a nice blend of realism and that ridiculousness that makes his character really work. I feel like having Rachel at his side helped to reel him in make it so that it’s like they’re both in the same movie.
In terms of the supporting roles, Dan Stevens has a surprising amount of scenes in the film and executes his antagonistic character really well. He’s got this range that allows him to go from good guy to bad guy to charming bad guy with ease and that really plays into his character. Mellisanthi Mahut is great alongside Dan and has a few notable scenes where she’s quite impressive. I want to shout out to Natasia Demetriou who only has a handful of short scenes in here but she makes a strong impact with those few comedic moments.
Speaking of the comedy, the film as a whole offers a number of laugh-out-loud moments on top of some of the subtly comedic beats. Not all of the comedy hits, some things are a little too obvious to make an impact but it’s pretty consistently funny the whole way through.
In the end, I had a lot more fun with this movie than I thought I would thanks to the performances, the comedy, the music, the story and even the short but sweet celebrity cameos. This isn’t a parody of the Eurovision Song Contest, it’s a tribute. That’s why I, as a big fan of the contest, love what they’ve done here to make it really feel like Eurovision. I could see the songs appearing in an actual Eurovision contest, especially since I’ve seen a lot worse make it through. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga has something in it for everyone, especially if you’re an avid watcher of the actual contest. Would I love to see a sequel? Absolutely, sign me up!