I can’t even imagine what your reaction would be if you knew nothing about Eurovision and heavily titled Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga is the first introduction to it. The contest itself is ridiculous in best and worst way possible as well as full of both humour and talent on the stage. Directed by David Dobkin and produced/co-written by Will Ferrell, it takes an American point of view to the whole thing which makes for an interesting beginning but doesn’t quite capture the essence when looking at the finished product. Ferrell (as Lars) stars along Rachel McAdams (Sigrit) as an Icelandic duo, Fire Saga, competing for the country in Eurovision.
For a movie about a song contest, the music is very much an importance. Luckily that aspect is one of the stronger parts of it as the actual tracks featured (produced, written or exec. produced by hitmaker Savan Kotecha) are a perfect representation like with thunderous tunes from Russia, vocal virtuosity from Iceland, monster rock from Belarus and a medley which features real Eurovision winners from previous years. Russia’s Alexander Lemtov is played by Dan Stevens who manages to be the only character in the film that has the right mix of extra and deep undertones. Stevens is exceptional in every scene (covering for his woeful The Call Of The Wild showing earlier this year) and you always want more of the character.
Stevens is contrasted completely by Ferrell who is offering nothing new here, you’ve seen this character before and better from him. Along with the non-trying is the fact that the character Lars doesn’t really belong in a film like this. Especially when paired with Sigrit, you get the sense of American filmmakers trying to laugh at the story but doing that cheaply through Lars. Dobkin doesn’t seem to have any grasp at the perspective of this movie, it’s not an underdog story, a proper musical or pure comedy. Shame because there is a really great musical comedy here but possibly that is from other minds. The movie would be a fine time-passer because of the music, Stevens and costume design but at 123 minutes length, it’s 30 minutes too long with sequences and side quests that really drag.
Smileys: Dan Stevens, soundtrack
Frowneys: Runtime, Will Ferrell, directing
How dare you make an act in monster suits and playing rock music to represent Belarus, that’s just an insult to Finland.