Will Ferrell returns with another oddball character called Lars Erickssong, an underdog musician from Iceland disillusioned by ABBA’s triumph in winning Eurovision Song Contest back in 1974. He’s aspired to represent his country in the contest and win it; much to the chagrin of Erick Erickssong (Pierce Brosnan), his father (and allegedly the father of every other kid in town). Working closely with his childhood friend, the talented elf-believing Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), Lars form an electro-pop band, The Fire Saga, and record their own bizarre songs to compete in the titular contest.
Born out of a personal interest from Ferrell’s own experience, getting introduced to the show by his Swedish wife, Viveca Paulin, he writes it as a love letter to his wife in an eponymously Ferrell’s way. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga stands ambiguously between a tribute to the colossal contest and a self-mockery which, almost surprisingly, is frank and candid. The story flows with zero-to-hero template religiously with sparks of romantic comedy adorn it here and there. Ferrell, writing it with former Saturday Night Live writer, Andrew Steele, then inject the story with high dose of oddball jokes that only sometimes work.
Ferrell delivers the story’s punchline—his own character—in his trademark fashion. Lars, whose last name is an word-play of traditional Icelandic name, substituting the usual -son with -song, is like an amalgamation of Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights and Chazz Michael Michaels in Blades of Glory. His character is in the blurred line between a sympathetic man or a real a-hole for the whole story. He can be the guy with Thor‘s costume singing “Volcano Man” and, some other time, the guy whose pride falls at the rock bottom singing the playful “Ja Ja Ding Dong.” Lars is Ferrell’s safest character in the recent year if not his most sympathetic, although Ferrell—produces, writes, and stars—is eager to downplay him into a total loon.
While the story is nothing special, the Eurovision parody is something else. Bringing along Wedding Crasher director, David Dobkin, the buffoonery spectacle is also elevated on a particular level. You certainly can expect someone to crash the event (even though the real contest is cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The musical elements are as playful. The faux movie video of “Volcano Man” sets the tone of the movie; but, it’s the audacity of “Ja Ja Ding Dong” that sets the real mood. When the continental contest gets closer, the movie begins to drop the over-the-top banger one by one. Dan Stevens, as Alexander Lemtov, appears explosive with tights, erotic dancer, and persona that immediately reminds us of George Michael. Demi Lovato will also lend her charisma to the show. The movie’s best moment appears during the Song-A-Long medley stitching together songs from Cher, Madonna, ABBA, Celine Dion, and The Black Eyed Peas.
Adams, getting more comfortable in comedic roles, settles in perfectly in Eurovision. When she sings (her vocal is mixed with Molly My Marianne Sandén), Adams emanates a lighthearted charm which steals her character a bit of the spotlight from Ferrell. Her chemistry with Ferrell, however, is not as vigorous as when her individual performance. Seemingly, both actors come from different poles of comedy; therefore, the chemistry has never bloomed as it’s intended to.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga might be cliché-ridden but never dull. Ferrell and Adams shine on their own comedic way. But, even when the actual contest is cancelled, this campy rendition might still fill in the gap with sparkling joy.