If someone were to put a needle in my arm, filled with COVID-19, and say to me, “you have to review EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA in only one sentence or we are going to expose you to this virus,” well, the current me would say, “go ahead, make my day.” But if I were in a better mood I’d confess, “The movie is only worth watching once because of Rachel McAdams and Dan Stevens alone, Will Ferrell is awful in it, and the second half is better than the first.” I think they’d allow me a run on sentence, don’t you agree? I think that sentence describes the film excellently. If Rachel McAdams weren’t in it and if she just wasn’t just so damn charming as hell, this whole movie would’ve been another Will Ferrell clusterfuck. Because he is annoyingly awful in it. Like you want to choke him to death just so he’ll shut the fuck up kind of awful. This is another one of his long title comedies, and he used to be able to get away with just yelling random shit that made absolutely no sense. That was only acceptable (and sometimes hilariously funny) more than a decade ago. It no longer works. And while the film has a pretty solid 2nd half (we get some good random jokes that are paid off well from the beginning), the first half is so boring, awful, and goes nowhere to the point that I just can’t quite recommend it. That is, unless you are a die hard Rachel McAdams fan, which I certainly am. So do I or don’t I? Depends on my mood.
Per IMDB.com, Eurovision Song Contest is described as: “When aspiring musicians Lars and Sigrit are given the opportunity to represent their country at the world’s biggest song competition, they finally have a chance to prove that any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for.” Will Ferrell is Lars and Rachel McAdams are Sigrit, and while Ms. McAdams plays the part convincingly, charmingly, and acts like she wants to be there, Will Ferrell is…too much there. If that makes any sense. Compared to McAdams, his Iceland accent is abysmal, and while her facial expressions convey well to the written word of her character, Ferrell seems to put on a new face every couple of seconds, throwing anything at the wall to see what sticks. But nothing does, and this ultimately makes his character a non-character. Just a lame impression you put on at cocktail parties, trying to get a laugh out of a drunken moment between friends, and nothing more. But here, the audience is stone cold sober, and we couldn’t care less. Dan Stevens plays a rival musician from Russia, and he, along with Ms. McAdams, steals every scene that he is in, the movie just needed a better lead. And a better co-writer. Will Ferrell co wrote this with an individual named Andrew Steele. I have a feeling that Ferrell only got a screenplay writing credit because of his improv. Andrew Steele probably wrote the only decent parts of the story. He should’ve given the script to a better comedian instead of Ferrell, you probably just pointed at different parts of the script and said, “I think I’ll just yell and scream something insignificant here.”
The first half is not funny at all, except for a boat explosion, and the movie only gets by because of Rachel McAdams and the believable charming innocence of her character. She literally lifts up the movie on her shoulders. Had she not been in it, I would’ve probably turned it off at minute 20. That’s another complaint, at a little over too hours, the movie is way too long. Could’ve been a much more solid 95 minutes. When you watch it, notice how things that should happen at the start of the 3rd act happen when there is still an hour left of the film, only half way through. The film has very odd pacing issues and it drags in moments that should’ve been entirely cut out of the film. The music & songs, written by Demi Lovato’s (she has a fun little cameo in the movie) song writer, are actually quite good and they keep parts of the movie, that would’ve just dragged everything even further, somewhat afloat. It’s the second half that picks up steam when it actually gets to the heart of the contest, the semi-finals and finals, with cool performances from what I can only guess are real contestants that have actually performed at the real Eurovision Contests in years past and present. Combine those interesting moments with some God damn hilarious elf and ghosts jokes and you’ll probably find yourself chuckling if not laughing out loud a few times toward the end. If only the first half had matched the pacing and wit of the climax.
The film is directed by David Dobkin, director of Wedding Crashers, his first comedy since 2011’s The Change Up (a guilty pleasure for me, it’s that Ryan Reynolds/Jason Bateman hard R-Rated body switch movie). While everything seemed to me to be just a point and shoot affair, I liked that there was a lot of location shooting in Iceland and possibly at the place where the real Eurovision Song Contest was held. While there was definitely some green screen effects whenever the characters were on boats, the exterior shots of the gorgeous landscapes of Iceland and showing that the actors were actually there was a nice little touch. If you go into this expecting something akin to classics of Will Ferrell’s past such as Anchorman 1 or Talladega Nights or even something like Wedding Crashers, you will come out very disappointed. The film is rated PG-13 and it isn’t really even a hard PG-13, not to say that a harder rating would’ve automatically made this film much better, but I really would’ve liked to see this movie go to darker, raunchier, and funnier places than it ended up going. And Will Ferrell needs to fucking tone it down a bit. You can tell he’s getting desperate for laughs, but in his desperation he is tripping over his own feet. If he keeps this up any longer, he is going to end up flat on his face, no longer able to get up, and his career will end up being an awful dumpster fire saga.