EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF THE FIRE SAGA – Review by Susan Granger

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Until I streamed this movie, I’d never heard of the Eurovision Song Contest, the world’s biggest song competition. Neither had Will Ferrell until he saw it with his Swedish wife Viveca Paulin and decided to make a mockumentary about the bizarre show that famously introduced ABBA’s Waterloo in 1974.

Living in the tiny village of Husavik on the north coast of Iceland, oafish Lars Erickssong (Ferrell) always wanted to sing and dance, often embarrassing his uptight fisherman father (Pierce Brosnan).

Lars is accompanied by adoring Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams), who whimsically communes with magical elves. Due to bizarrely explosive circumstances – Lars and Sigrid, whose duo is called Fire Saga, become Iceland’s official contestants.

Traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland, naive Lars rejects Sigrit’s romantic overtures – claiming “romance ruins bands” – leaving her vulnerable to the advances of Russia’s preening, predatory Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens) and his sultry wing-woman, Greek singer Mita Xenakis (Melissanthi Mahut).

Sketchily scripted by Ferrell and Andrew Steele, it follows Ferrell’s previous vocational parodies: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. And director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) draws on his video experience with Elton John and Maroon 5, aided by cinematographer Danny Cohen.

There’s lots of overproduced Euro-pop music, featuring Demi Lovato, Sweden’s Johnny Johnny-John-John, bearded Austrian drag artist Conchita Wurst, among others – peppered with commentary by BBC’s Graham Norton.

While Farrell does his own singing, Rachel McAdams’s voice is blended with Swedish singer Molly Sanden, and Dan Stevens’ is dubbed by Sweden’s Erik Mjones.

FYI: The wacky stunt involving an eight-ton hamster wheel gone awry was inspired by Ukraine’s 2014 dance number.

Originally scheduled to open in theaters in May to coincide with the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the annual competition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence the Netflix release.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of the Fire Saga is an absurd 6, a campy comedy, filled with silly Nordic kitsch.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.