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.