Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
Director: David Dobkin
Writers: Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele
Starring: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Melissanthi Mahut, Mikael Persbrandt, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Graham Norton, Demi Lovato, and Pierce Brosnan
Plot: A less than stellar musical duo is given a shot to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Review: My dad and I once had a several day conversation about the career trajectory of comedians. We theorized that their quality of work in movies was essentially a bell curve. They would start off kind of slow, having bit parts or cameos in other famous comedian’s movies. Then, they’d hit it big and make hit after hit after hit for a couple years. However, this almost never lasts as people get tired of the schtick and they’re career hits a bit of a lull. I added that I’m pretty sure that happens when they voice an animated character. That’s usually the end of their peak. Eventually, they’d either upgrade to dramas or go back to being bit parts in other comedians’ films. Well, we’ve been in the lull of Will Ferrell’s career for quite some time now. He hasn’t had a live-action role I’ve been a huge fan of since Step Brothers. And, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga doesn’t change that streak either. It’s not awful, but it’s pretty far away from the Ferrell highlight reel.
Honestly, the emotion I felt most during my viewing of Eurovision was boredom. I know that everyone’s standards for a good comedy are different, but I just didn’t find this movie that funny. There were a couple of one-liners I chuckled at, but, for every joke that hit, there were ten that didn’t. And, I think the problem comes from the writing. The stuff I laughed at I can easily see Ferrell or McAdams improvising on set. The really, painfully unfunny stuff was obviously in the script. From the cringe-inducing visual gags to Demi Lavato in maybe one of the worst ongoing gags I’ve seen. And, maybe the biggest fault is that this movie is over two hours long! A couple of chuckles is not worth a two-hour investment. They definitely should’ve edited it down to eighty or ninety minutes. Keep the strong stuff and cut out the clutter.
Another major problem I felt is that this movie really doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a parody of Eurovision or a loving tribute? Am I supposed to think the musical numbers are funny or genuinely good? Is this villain a conniving jerk or a decent person? The movie never really seems to commit to anything, which left me confused on how I was supposed to feel. They would constantly bash our heroes, making them seem like the worst band in the world, then have them progress super far. They’d talk about how evil Dan Stevens’ character was and then have a scene where you felt real warmth radiating off of him. And, it’s not like they’d slowly evolve those feelings, because in the next scene they’d take it all back. It’s very odd.
Before I wrap this up, I do feel like reiterating that I didn’t hate Eurovision. There were a couple of funny lines from Ferrell. Rachel McAdams is always a delight. She’s one of the more likeable people in Hollywood. And, apparently, she actually sings a bit. Her performance was probably the stand-out for me. Likewise, I really like Dan Stevens. I think he’s crazy talented and his musical performances were among the few that actually made me giggle. So, it’s definitely not a complete waste.
Overall, I’d say that Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga had a lot of potential. It’s a funny enough concept and the characters are likeable. It’s not the worst thing you could throw on Netflix to keep yourself entertained for a bit. I just think that the movie has some serious tone issues and is waaaaaaaay too long.
TL;DR: Despite its promising premise and strong cast, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga isn’t good for much more than a couple chuckles.
Score: 5/10 (Meh.)