In 1974, the Icelandic boy Lars Erikssong, who lives in the small town of Husavik, and the girl Sigrit Eriksdottir saw on TV the performance of “ABBA” at Eurovision – and it changed their whole life!
Already very adult Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) play in their own group Fire Saga, perform Lars’ songs and dream of someday getting to Eurovision.
Sigrit believes in elves, periodically leaves offerings to magical creatures – and the elves do not let her down: it happens that Fire Saga go to Eurovision with representatives from Iceland.
Nobody believes in this ensemble. Lars himself is not believed by his father, the stern Icelandic fisherman Erik Eriksson (Pierce Brosnan). Rumor has it that half of the children in Husavik are the work (figurative expression) of Eric, but Lars believes that Sigrit is most likely not his sister. Erik despises Lars because he has been dreaming about Eurovision for so many years, and his whole career has been performances in a local tavern, where all those gathered absolutely do not need either world hits or Lars’ songs: they are only waiting for the performance of the cult Icelandic song “Ya- ya ding dong” which Lars hates.
Nevertheless, Fire Saga come to Eurovision, where initially no one understands what they are doing here at all, they suffer a shameful fiasco at the rehearsal, they also didn’t do anything good at the first performance, but nevertheless they somehow got through semi-final.
Sigrit is constantly trying to build wedges with Lars, with whom she has been in love since childhood, but Lars is sure that romance among the members of the group is unacceptable, because it can destroy the group.
At the same time, the situation is complicated by the fact that the handsome singer from United States Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens), the main contender for victory, clearly has a crush on Sigrit.
Americans? Have you made a film about Eurovision? Do they even know what Eurovision is?
No, Americans don’t. But Will Ferrell knows: his wife, actress Viveka Pauline (Ferrell met her when they played Nights at the Roxbury together) is Swedish, born in Sweden. In 1999, Ferrell and his wife came to her relatives in Sweden, and there the actor was forced to watch Eurovision 1999. Ferrell liked it all, and after that he watched Eurovision every year in the States, and in 2014 he even came to Copenhagen, where the competition was then held, to attend the final performances.
The idea of a film about Eurovision was born by Ferrell back then, at the beginning of the 2000s. He co-wrote the screenplay with SNL writer Andrew Steele, but neither studio was interested in the project. And only eighteen years later, Will was able to realize this idea – thanks to the streaming service Netflix, which agreed to invest in the project.
David Dobkin, the creator of the good comedies “Shanghai Knights” and “The Uninvited Guests”, sat in the director’s chair, he also shot a very good drama “The Judge”, and it can be mentioned that Dobkin directed several of the most famous clips of the Maroon 5 group.
The “History of the Fire Saga” is not a runaway parody of the Eurovision Song Contest. And how can you parody something that is itself a parody, because, as you know, Eurovision, being a serious and very revealing song contest in the seventies, eighties and nineties, in the two thousandths gradually began to degenerate into a kind of freak show, where the winners became not so much due to the voice and skill of performance, but due to a certain outrageousness in the images and staging of the performance.
The European Broadcasting Union, which owns the rights to Eurovision, provided the film crew with all possible assistance, twelve real participants and winners of Eurovision starred in the film: John Lundvik, Anna Odobescu, Bilal Assani, Lauryn, Jesse Matador, Alexander Rybak, Jamala, Elina Nechaeva , Conchita Wurst, Netta, Salvador Sobral and Molly Sunden..
So the expected stream of typical Ferrellian absurd humor didn’t happen here, but it may be for the better, because everything here is done a little thinner than usual.
In general, as we know, most comedies starring Ferrell have their own special genre “comedy with Will Ferrell”, and this attracts fans of the genre who know what to expect from the film, and repels those who do not like this genre.
I know Ferrell from his great roles in SNL sketches: this stalwart with the face of an insufficiently beaten dog could play the fool atomically, maintaining a completely deadpan expression. There is a cool sketch in SNL where Ferrell’s partners – Jimmy Fallon, Rachel Dratch, Drew Barrymore – could no longer restrain themselves and just laughed out loud, looking at what Will was doing, and only he continued to rock, keeping the traditional mournful expression on his face .
I’m not exactly a fan of the “Comedy with Will Ferrell” genre, but I watch them not without pleasure: the gorgeous Mugatu in “Zoolander”, Steve in “Night at the Roxberry”, Ron Burgundy in “The Anchorman”, Chaz Michael Michaels in “Blades of Glory” : starfish on ice” – all this is very funny. However, we note that Ferrell starred in a lot and in a specific sediment like “Anchorman 2”, “Model Male 2”, “Holmes and Watson” and others.
Regarding this film, one cannot but admit that Ferrell is clearly too old for this role: the main character should have been thirty years old, and not fifty, like Will. But, however, oddly enough, despite the fact that this is the project of Ferrell himself, his character here is rather auxiliary, and the film is not good at all with Will’s antics.
The picture seems to be built according to a typical pattern – oh, they dreamed all their lives, worked hard on themselves and eventually came to recognition – but this is a clear parody, so recognition will not come to the group due to some outstanding performing qualities, but simply because in this company of freaks they turned out to be the most reckless. However, the character of Ferrell, who is traditionally ridiculous and silly, is responsible for the cheekiness here, and Rachel McAdams plays a romantic line, which is quite funny, because to believe in the love of Sigrit carried through a lifetime (actually, this Scandinavian name sounds like Sigrid, but in the film she was named Sigrit) in this dull jerk Lars – absolutely impossible. And Rachel McAdams is very good here – bright, natural and organic. By the way, Molly Sanden sings for her here, whose voice was processed in order to harmonize with Rachel. But Will Ferrell sings himself, but here and according to the plot, Lars does not have outstanding performing abilities.
It all started as a typical comedy with Ferrell, but the environment worked well in the picture: the most colorful Icelandic town, the stunning nature of Iceland, the local tavern, in which Lars and Sigrit perform, and the touching demand to sing “Ya-ya, ding-dong.”
And when they arrived at Eurovision and everything started spinning there, it became very good. Because there, one of the main characters was the mannered United Statesn singer Alexander Lemtov, who pretends to be a macho macho, but at the same time prefers costumes in the style of “Philip Kirkorov’s simple work clothes”, which clearly speaks of his orientation. By the way, actor Dan Stevens, the star of the Downton Abbey series, who portrayed Lemtov, said in an interview that he was inspired by the image of Philip Kirkorov.
So, this Lemtov is very funny, and he instantly overshadowed the character of Ferrell, and this was how it was conceived according to the script. Lemtov’s party is just brilliant, especially the joint performance of several famous hits by Eurovision stars: by the way, I would not refuse to have this performance in the form of a separate clip. (And at the beginning of the film they show a cool imaginary clip of Fire Saga – also very well done.)
Also, various musical numbers of the participants sound in the picture – they were specially written and staged for the film, and, honestly, I’m sure that with these numbers you can safely perform at this competition and even win.
Interestingly, the filmmakers originally planned to release the film on Netflix at the same time as Eurovision 2020, however, as you know, the competition in 2020 was canceled due to the coronavirus epidemic, and it turned out that the film was not released together, but instead of Eurovision .
Graham Norton himself, a radio host, TV presenter, actor and comedian, who has been commenting on Eurovision in the UK since 2009, was invited to the picture as a commentator on the show. And he played himself, the commentator for the show, just great!
Ferrell could not resist in the picture and inserted several episodes of Lars bantering a group of young Americans – this group appears there in three episodes. And it was somewhat reminiscent of the funny comedy “To hell with the horns”, where an Italian, touchingly trying to behave like a Norwegian, fires at the Italian demeanor.
Pierce Brosnan here was nice to see in the role of a harsh fisherman who fucked half the city. In general, I like his age roles an order of magnitude more than his roles in the status of a handsome handsome man.
Which is good – and they didn’t mess up with the final. The ending seemed to suggest itself quite typical, but it was done more subtly than I expected.
In general, such a “Eurovision” we with the cat Bublik approve entirely. It was not for nothing that Ferrell fought for this project, and he embodied it quite worthily – despite the fact that the actor himself is too old for this role. But, I repeat, everything is not based on Ferrell, and the comedy, in my opinion, turned out to be very good. Although I fully admit that many viewers may not like it – for one reason or another. But here the point is not whether they are Eurovision fans or not. For example, I am not a fan at all and I have never watched Eurovision. And I liked the movie.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga movie review
Director: David Dobkin Cast: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Pierce Brosnan, Melissanti Mayu, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Yoi Johannsson, Bjedn Hlinur Haraldsson, Graham Norton, Jamie Demetriou
Musical comedy, USA, 2020, 123 min.