Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Contest is a fairly entertaining
but slightly overlong (at two plus hours) romantic comedy about a fictional
Icelandic male/female singing duo. Their dream is to win a big international
singing contest and as it progresses one realizes the reason why many good comedies
are only an hour and a half to an hour and forty minutes long.
The Eurovision Song Contest is a real program, and the film features vocal
performances of varying quality by using real former contestants from the actual show.
Eurovision is a competition featuring fifty or so countries that choose a solo
artist, duo or group representing each country. The Contest is possibly best
known because it was where Abba debuted their big hit: "Waterloo".
"The Story of Fire" has its share of entertaining musical numbers including
Dan Stevensí ridiculous "Lion of Love" and Demi Lovatoís "In the Mirror". But
the overall musical highlight of the film has the two stars singing a medley
with the real Eurovision winners of Cherís "Believe" and Madonnaís "Ray of
Light" which is a delicious overblown tribute to campy excess. I am not totally
sure which songs were supposed to be funny though-perhaps all of them with the
exception of Sigritís solo.
The film stars Will Ferrell (often ridiculously dressed in head to toe in
spandex) and Rachel McAdams as a cheesy but sincere musical duo called "Fire
Saga". As the name suggests the movie creates some laughs by playing off its
ethnic theme, and at one point Lars wears a helmet that resembles Thorís, and
the group often perform ridiculous songs that include exaggerated Icelandic
nature metaphors (like Volcano Man ). It is kind of like as if an American group
who wrote all their songs about bison or Starbucks.
The film features the typical "in love" movie couple that are the only ones who
donít realize they are, in fact-in love. Ferrell plays Lars, a rather childish adult who
is still full of wonder, while Sigrit (McAdams) is a slightly more mature but
still naÔve teacher who believes in elves.
The whole town is filled with folksy and rather simple but decent people who are
mostly charming and well intentioned like the type of people you often see on
English comedy shows like "Doc Martin". Pierce Brosnan is superb as Larsí
disapproving father who wants his son to give up because he thinks he is too old
to become a new pop sensation. Many people in the town are related by blood, and
the couple constantly has to deny that they are brother and sister reinforcing
the cultural stereotype of frequent inbreeding in small towns.
The only problem is that the tradition is that the country that wins the contest
must host next yearís contest. There is not enough money for the in the budget
for the country to host the festival but luckily the couple has some possibly
supernatural allies on their side.
Also, there are some clear obstacles to Lars and Sigridís budding relationship.
There is a flamboyant Russian pop star who may or not be bi-sexual, played by
Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey of all people in the filmís most charismatic
performance. He is trying to split up the duo by seducing Sigrid. On the other
hand, Lars has a gorgeous singing admirer Mita, the Greek contestant who is well
played by talented Melissantai Mahut. She would like nothing better than get him
in bed. Viewers probably wonít have too much trouble guessing the eventual fate
of the duo.
Watching a film on Netflix sometimes has its benefits. I put the Netflix
language changing controls to good use and watched it once in English and once
in Italian. In case you are dying to know the Icelandic accents do not carry
over well or work in the Italian version.
Although Eurovision eventually won me over with its quirky charm, the movie lost
a few points from me because it never even mentions perhaps the most significant
Icelandic entertainer ever: Bjork, who was supposedly the model for McAdamsí
accent. But my big question is what will the Icelandic people think of the film?
So "The Story of Fire Saga" gets a qualified recommendation from me. It is definitely not
musical comic masterpiece. It never rises to the level of "A Mighty Wind"
or "This is Spinal
Tap" but it sure beats "Momma Mia".
Although it is overstuffed, there is enough amusing gags to make it worth
seeing. In these days of Covid with diminished opportunities for new film viewing,
beggars canít always be choosers.