The Story Of Fire Saga follows fictional Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong (played by Will Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (played by Rachel McAdams) who are unintentionally given the chance to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest. Since the real-life contest is filled with horrendous songs and odd-looking singers stuck in a time gone by, this film could potentially have been very funny. Unfortunately it’s not. In addition to having one of the longest titles on Netflix, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga also sports a lengthy, almost two-hour runtime, which only amplifies everything that’s wrong with this film. From the writing, acting, to the singing (or miming), everything about this movie is excruciatingly bad, almost as bad as the contest itself. This could have been a clever comment on the kitsch nature of the show but no, the script isn’t deep, it’s just another badly-constructed Will Farrell film; not intelligent enough to be a satire and not funny enough to be a laugh-out-loud comedy. With a crap song followed by a dull scene followed by another crap song, the film is repetitive and contrived rather than enjoyable. The songs aren’t catchy or corny enough to be a comment on that aspect of the contest either. What we’re left with then, is a painfully unfunny movie which only die-hard Ferrell fans will want to watch.
This film was originally scheduled for a May release to coincide with this year’s Eurovision, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this date was pushed back. With the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest cancelled, this entire debacle misses the mark by not only months but by miles. Even without the correct release date, as a viewer you ask yourself; what’s this film trying to say? Who’s the target? Iceland, Europe? Directed by David Dobkin and written by Andrew Steele and Will Ferrell, I don’t think anyone involved with its creation decided on a target. From The Hunt to The Day Shall Come, there’s been a few failed satires in recent years but this particular film isn’t clever enough to be considered a satire since it has no opinion whatsoever. The Iceland setting seems random, and the inclusion of Eurovision cameos from Conchita Wurst to Graham Norton means the film-makers weren’t even intending to mock anyone who’s involved in making this annual crapfest. The end result is half-pastiche, half-parody, and fully-unpleasant.
Another major problem is that both Ferrell and McAdams play their characters as though they’re err… characters, with the kind of one-take performance complete with piss-poor accents and corpsing normally reserved for television sketches. The only actors who accurately portray camp and conceited Eurovision types are Dan Stevens and James Demetriou but their obvious talent only makes the leads look more amateur than they already are. And while I’m at it; with or without a wig, Ferrell is hardly an exemplar of youth, and that being the case, his father being played by Pierce Brosnan looks wrong (more like an older brother than his dad). Of course correct or believable ages are the least of this film’s worries. Critic Mark Kermode has a test as to whether a film is a genuine comedy and that involves counting your laughs as you watch. The Story Of Fire Saga didn’t make me laugh once, let alone five or six times, which means as a comedy, this movie fails.
From Get Hard, Holmes & Watson, to Downhill, Will Ferrell hasn’t made a decent film in years (if ever). In my opinion, aside from Elf, Ferrell hasn’t made a memorable movie that would be considered a classic. He’s created a handful of potentially humourous characters over the years but his filmography is littered with underwhelming, forgettable flicks. Similar to the rest of the late-90s-early-00s cast of Saturday Night Live, he’s an overrated comedy actor and writer who’s responsible for the slow decline of Hollywood comedy (but I guess that’s for another article).
Because Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga is so shite, the Father Ted episode “A Song For Europe” (series 2, episode 5) is still the best comedy about Eurovision. Go and stream that instead of watching this Euro-turd.