Will Ferrell, star of hit comedies including “Elf,” “Anchorman” and “Step Brothers,” says he was amazed that nobody in Europe had made a film about the Eurovision Song Contest.
Having fallen in love with the competition thanks to his Swedish wife, Ferrell and co-writer Andrew Steele are aiming to fill this perceived gap in the movie market, convincing Netflix to spend big on “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” a glossy, all-star comedy that charts the story of Lars and Sigrit (Ferrell and co-star Rachel McAdams.)
The two best friends, hailing from the small town of Húsavík in Iceland, dream of winning the kitsch contest, much to the disapproval of Lars’ father Erick — played with a palpable sense of disbelief by Pierce Brosnan. When an unlikely (and slightly contrived) chain of events leaves Lars and Sigrit as Iceland’s only hope in the annual competition, they head to Edinburgh for the semifinals. Lars dreams only of advancing to the final and proving his father wrong, while Sigrit wishes only for Lars to notice how much she loves him.
As with most Ferrell vehicles, “The Story of Fire Saga” contains some exemplary laugh-out-loud physical comedy, and some unarguably chuckle-worthy silliness. However, unlike his more popular movies, in “Eurovision Song Contest” viewers can count these moments on one hand.
While the film captures the wonderfully cheesy side of Eurovision extremely well — including a raft of hilariously on-the-nose portrayals of contestants and strikingly awful songs — and leans on the competition’s heritage with a smattering of cameos from formerwinners, the concept becomes stretched very quickly.
Ferrell and McAdams are entertaining enough, despite attempting Icelandic accents that don’t always land, but the film lacks the substance or structure to support the decision to let it run for more than two hours. Beyond its initial amusing premise, the movie sags under its own weight and ends up falling back on silly voices and some (very) tired national stereotypes. It’s a reasonably entertaining romp — and will doubtless get plenty of views on Netflix, even if those viewers don’t actually make it to the end — but it’s by no means a Ferrell classic.