Review By Frances Winston
Directed by: David Dobkin – Starring: Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, Demi Lovato, Graham Norton
Streaming now on Netlix
Releasing a film set around the Eurovision Song Contest over a month after the annual camptastic show was scheduled to happen may seem odd. But, like many other productions, this was delayed by the current CoVid crisis, and they were forced to push back their release date.
It’s rather unwieldy title pretty much explains what it’s about. Ferrell and McAdams play Icelandic musicians, Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir, who together are known as Fire Saga. Since childhood, they have dreamed of representing their country in the Eurovision. However, when their big moment finally arrives, it proves more of a poisoned chalice than they could ever have imagined.
The actual real life contest has produced many ‘you couldn’t make them up’ moments over the years, and featured some seriously dubious songs and bonkers staging, so it is rife for parody. And when the contest is the main focus of this, it’s absolutely inspired and hilarious. Even the songs featured wouldn’t seem out of place in the actual competition.
McAdams proves a likeable foil to Ferrell’s trademark OTT physicality, and her earnestness actually gives his performance more depth and balance than he has when he plays opposite a similar madcap comedian.
Dan Stevens is fabulous as the Russian entry, Alexander Lemtov, and brings far more gravitas to the role than you would usually find in a film like this. Graham Norton plays himself, assuming his traditional Eurovision commentator role. And Eurovision fans will be happy to know that many previous winners make a cameo, although blink and you might miss some of them.
Unfortunately, the non-Eurovision scenes feel somewhat plodding. Brosnan is wasted as Lars father, the most handsome man in Iceland, and a sub-plot about a corrupt politician is predictable – and far too panto-esque – even by Eurovision standards.
This has some lovely moments, but gets bogged down trying to give the story more heart than a parody requires. It is a shame, because the actual song contest is such a spectacle that they could easily have dedicated far more of the running time to it.
When it is good, it is laugh-out-loud funny, but there are too many moments where it drags. For fans of the contest however, it will no doubt give them a welcome Eurovision fix, in light of the contest’s cancellation this year.