Netflix’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Fire Saga Story is Will Ferrell’s most successful film in years – and this should concern him.
If you’re a Eurovision tragic, you already have an appreciation for the excess and extravagance the contest brings to your living room each year.
It is simply not May without wind machines, pyrotechnics, dramatic costume changes (looking at you, Greece) and at least four tendentious political jibes at neighbouring countries.
Eurovision the contest has taught many of us to embrace the exaggerated elements of the show and always expect the unexpected.
But the film rendition and its inclusion of magic, murderous elves and a few too many shots of Ferrell in tight spandex might have finally pushed the envelope too far.
The Fire Saga Story follows aspiring Icelandic musicians, Lars (Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), as they enter and compete in the biggest international singing contest in the world.
Both Lars and Sigrit have dreamt of entering the contest since 1974 when ABBA won with Waterloo, and through a series of mishaps, they finally find themselves on the famous stage.
Ferrell, who also wrote the film, said he was introduced to the campy contest when visiting his wife’s family in Sweden.
“Between the staging, the costumes, the kitschness of the songs – and then some of the songs are really good – from the sublime to the ridiculous, I just remember in that moment thinking, ‘That would make a great movie’,” Ferrell told SR Trailers and Interviews.
“But I always thought someone in Europe would have done it.”
Ferrell went on to say he was inspired to knuckle down and finally make the movie after seeing Conchita Wurst win in 2014.
“Around five years ago, two years before Lisbon, we went to the contest in Copenhagen, in Denmark and that was the first actual time I was there and that was the year Conchita Wurst from Austria won and we were like, ‘We have to do this’.”
Ferrell was given access to follow the entire contest – including rehearsals – as research for the film when it was held in Lisbon in 2018.
Keen-eyed fanatics will catch a number of subtle and not-so-subtle nods to Eurovision contestants past, including Dan Stevens’ character, Alexander Lemtov, a homage to 2013 Romanian contestant, Cezar.
Because nothing says ‘I’m here to win Eurovision’ like blending disco opera and pop music, or ‘popera’ – Cezar, you were robbed.
With objectively bad accents that waver throughout the whole film (and in some scenes, disappear entirely) and cheesy, slapstick humour, one of the only saving graces of this film is its soundtrack.
The songs are exactly the type of showy, Eurotrash-pop that have made the contest an international institution – even to Australians, who are shamefully desperate to get involved.
The other saving grace is the unexpected ‘Song-Along’ that takes place in the middle of the film and is sung by a number of real-life former contestants and winners.
Familiar faces include Loreen (winner for Sweden 2012), Netta Barzilai (winner for Israel 2018), Alexander Rybak (winner for Norway 2009) and Wurst.
Given that this year’s contest was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, this big, elaborate comedy spoof might just fill the Eurovision-sized void in your life.
Or make you miss the real thing even more.