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Review: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

The most successful thing this movie accomplished was inspiring me to visit Iceland. 

To my knowledge, no movie sets out with the intention of being bad, dull, or forgettable. Unfortunately though, for a number of reasons, it ends up happening to a fair share of movies. But y’know what? If I can see that the movie really made an effort to deliver a memorable script, attempted to tell a fun story, and tried to give entertaining performances, I can forgive it for turning out poorly. What I’m less forgiving of however, are movies that put in little to no effort, and are brimming with wasted potential. That really disappoints me. Though Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) hits a few high notes, it’s still thoroughly disappointing.

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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga follows Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir, an Icelandic pair of musicians who dream of winning the Eurovision Song Contest. When they finally get the chance to perform in the contest, the pair do everything they can to try and win and bring honour to their hometown.

I started out with a reasonable amount of hope for this movie. Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell have always been reliable in comedies (Ferrell less so recently for me), and I assumed that tonally, this would be an outlandish, satirical comedy like a Mel Brooks or Christopher Guest movie. There was even an ABBA song within the first five minutes so I was totally on board! After that brief flicker of hope though, the movie completely falls apart for me. In fact, it was around the 14 minute mark where I pulled out my phone and unapologetically spent the rest of the movie looking at it. I’m sorry, that’s so rude, but I couldn’t help it. I found this movie to be wildly unfunny and just as uninteresting.

For starters, this movie is too damn long. Just under two hours? No ma’am. Completely unnecessary. If this were a tight hour and 25 minutes, I think it would have been much more bearable. At one point I was like, “oh, surely this is the end, right?” And then there were 52 MINUTES LEFT. Ugh. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is guilty of delivering quantity instead of focusing on quality. Every scene is needlessly dragged out, and weighed down by a staggering amount of exposition. The movie crams in plenty of moments that should come off as emotional or hilarious, but they’re all lacklustre and decidedly “meh.” The story is an average, “underdogs enter the big competition to fulfill their dreams” narrative, but even the effort into making that a passionate and entertaining story feels halfhearted. I mean, the movie ends (quite anticlimactically I might add) and nothing really changes. You’re left asking yourself, “well, than what was the point of sitting through this?” The movie is pretty generic and forgettable which is disappointing, because given the source material, this could have been one of the most memorably unique and fun movies of the summer.

The saving grace of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is hands down the musical performances. You guys, I wasn’t expecting to have as much fun with the music as I did. I LOVED it! OH MY GOD, when former real-life Eurovision performers joined the lead characters to perform a medley of Cher / Madonna / ABBA / countless other fabulous artists songs during a house party rave, I LOST MY MIND. It was so much fun to watch! I wanted to join that party! It was an explosion of light, colour and awesomeness that I wish the movie had carried the whole way through. That scene, as well as the final performances at Eurovision, were undoubtedly the best, most enjoyable parts of the entire movie. I really wish the movie had dedicated more focus to the cool music. If Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga had leaned in, and been made as a campy, eclectic, bonkers, musical, I think it would have been a much more fun viewing experience than the movie it ended up being. It comes close to pulling off that fun tone, but ultimately feels more like a reject from 2008. The silly costumes, obvious wigs, the bad accents, the, “it’s funny because we’re foreign!” punchlines…It was kind of dumb and not in an entertaining way.

McAdams and Ferrell star as Sigrit and Lars respectively. I think these two are super talented comic actors, but like the rest of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, there’s isn’t too much praise that can be thrown their way. McAdams sells her performance more than Ferrell, most likely because she’s the better actor. Her Icelandic accent is certainly better than Ferrell’s. Her’s sounds as though it were actually researched whereas his is vaguely foreign sounding and inconsistently fades in and out. The pair don’t really have any chemistry together, reenforcing my opinion that they were both miscast. I feel like Sigrit and Lars should have been played by slightly younger actors who could more convincingly pull off the desire for glory and honour that Sigrit and Lars share. Oh, and also actually make us believe they were in love. Oh, and actually sing. McAdams and Ferrell lip-sync like pros, but I think the movie would have been more successful if it featured real musicians. Crazy right? A musical movie about singer / songwriters featuring actual vocalists? Bananas. Although, Dan Stevens sounded pretty great and although she was only in a couple scenes, Demi Lovato was phenomenal.

If any part of you feels compelled to check out Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, here’s my advice: Skip the movie and just watch the musical performances on YouTube. There have for sure been worse Netflix original movies, but at least those movies are more, “so bad they’re good.” Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is just dull. Which is a shame because if it just took a slightly different turn creatively, this is the kind of movie I could really get behind. Now, if this were turned into a stage musical? Oh, bet your bottom dollar I’d pay to see that!

Have you seen Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga? What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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