by Kyle Arango
I have been struggling with Will Ferrell movies lately. He was at the top of the comedy mountain for most of the 2000’s, but the Judd Apatow way of comedy came in and made his work look silly as a result. Think about it, what was the last funny Will Ferrell movie you’ve seen? Well next up we have Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga as his next attempt at a comedy. Do we have a winner? Well, we have half of one. This bonkers, absurd movie struggles to find laughs but balances itself thanks to a story that is pure at its core.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is about Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) who are two musicians in Iceland who have dreams of winning the Eurovision Song Contest one day. When they are selected by random and abnormal circumstances to represent their country in the competition, they go to chase their dreams. However, their dreams become much harder to obtain when everyone around them doesn’t support them the way they hoped. This film is a tale of two halves. The first half is very long and trotting that is just a leadup to the competition. There are no laughs as we get to know these characters, and you just kind of lose interest as the film drags its feet. Then in the second half it miraculously revives itself with a really sweet climax and resolution that leaves you happy at the end. Now, it is a tough ask to get people to sit through a boring half to get to the good stuff, but one would argue that you’d rather have that than a good first half that goes off a cliff in the second. You just have to find the good moments in the slow times.
I want to focus on the good of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga because I do think there is stuff to enjoy here. We can all relate to the journey of someone having a dream and then having it come true because we have those same aspirations. With this in mind, we root for the protagonists through all their obstacles because we just want to see where the journey will end. That’s the important message at the end of this being, no dream is not worth fighting for. If you have something in your life that you want to achieve, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try. Yeah there are bumps along the way and what feels like everyone telling you not to, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. This movie encapsulates that so well considering we are following these two ridiculous characters and are with them every step of the way. Director David Dobkin who has done nothing significant besides Wedding Crashers, finds what makes this story work by the end. You walk out feeling a bit more positive than you would’ve had the entire film been as slow as the first half.
I started this review off addressing Will Ferrell so let’s circle back to him. Unfortunately, his comedy just doesn’t work anymore. The over the top ridiculous characters were great in the early 2000’s, but we have moved on from that as an audience. Will Ferrell hasn’t. He wears a goofy wig and has these ridiculous teeth that just leaves you annoyed rather than entertained. I just wish Ferrell would’ve adjusted with the times and done more of the dramatic comedy like Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, or Bill Hader do because I feel like he could really nail it if given a shot (Downhill was not his fault). On the other side, Rachel McAdams is completely game and knows how to adjust her level of absurdity based on what scene she is in. She can be hilarious when she needs to be but also sweet, all while doing this ludicrous accent. She goes from a 4 to a 10 when need be while Ferrell is at a 15 for most of this movie. The dynamic just doesn’t work as well as you would hope, and McAdams does the heavy lifting to save this thing from falling flat of its face.
So, if you like crazy autotune songs and absurd characters, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga may be the film for you. Otherwise this one might be tough to get through. It has an inspiring message and a game performance from McAdams, but the rest doesn’t quite get there and as a result just becomes yet another mediocre Netflix film. One day Ferrell will figure it back out.