Netflix review: 'Eurovision Song Contest' is campy and fun - as it should be

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jul 04 2020 06:18 AM

Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams in 'Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga'

Lars Erickssong (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdóttir (Rachel McAdams) had been very close friends growing up together in the small fishing village of Husavik in Iceland. Ever since he saw ABBA win Eurovision on TV back in 1974, Lars had been obsessed about writing the perfect song to win the Eurovision for Iceland, something his father Erick (Pierce Brosnan) was very disappointed about. However, Sigrit, with her beautiful singing voice and faith in elves, supported Lars' dream all the way as his partner in their band called Fire Saga.

For the current contest, Lars submitted his song "Double Trouble" for consideration to the Iceland song committee, and by sheer luck they made it to the finals. Despite a disastrous performance, bizarre circumstances still aligned that caused Fire Saga to be Iceland's representatives for the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest held in Edinburgh, Scotland. There, rustic Lars and Sigrit had an exhilarating time hobnobbing with the glamorous contestants from other countries, like Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens) from Russia and Mita (Melissanthi Mahut) from Greece

I am not really a Will Ferrell fan. I never watched any of his famous films like "Elf" (2003) or "Anchorman" (2004). I believe the first and most memorable film I saw him in was "Blades of Glory" (2007) and this was on HBO only several years later, not on the big screen. Come to think of it now, the plot of "Blades of Glory" about achieving an impossible feat was also seen here. As Lars, Ferrell (now 52, but seemed 60) looked too old to be the son of Pierce Brosnan (now 67 but seemed 60) or the love interest of Rachel MacAdams (now 41, but seemed 31). However, the childish immature demeanor he had in his role still made us accept him as the leading man in this foolishly outlandish yet curiously charming comedy.

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I was also not a Rachel MacAdams fan. The first film I remember seeing her in was "The Notebook" (2004) which I did not really like too much despite its immense popularity at that time, and up to now. She was really sweet here as Sigrit, I liked her performance a lot. I was floored by her singing prowess while watching the several song numbers in this film, especially that crystalline and breathtaking final note in the song dedicated to their hometown of Husavik. I would find out afterwards though that her voice was mixed with the vocals of Swedish pop singer and former Eurovision contestant Molly Sanden, but anyhow MacAdams was able to sell the performance as if it was truly hers all along, not unlike what Rebecca Ferguson did for "Never Enough" in "The Greatest Showman."

We know Dan Stevens can sing when he voiced Beast in the live action remake of "Beauty and the Beast" and here we see him sing as himself with that rich baritone. American pop star Demi Lovato made short guest appearances as Icelandic singer Katiana, while talk show host Graham Norton played himself as the host of the Eurovision contest.

I particularly enjoyed that "Pitch Perfect"-like "Song-Along" where random pops hits like "Believe," "Ray of Light," "Waterloo" and "I Gotta Feeling" were sung by a series of singers, whom I later found out were actually contestants and winners from recent Eurovision contests!

Overall, I enjoyed the high spirits and wholesome humor of this comedy. Some jokes may run too long or fall flat, but it was all in the spirit of goofy fun. I thought it caught all the campy and cheesy spectacle of the Eurovision Song Contest, making this an orientation of sorts non-Europeans about the contest mechanics, style and atmosphere. You can see the disasters waiting to happen during Lars and Sigrit's song performances and this was part of the fun.

There were occasional scenes of violence which may be scary for younger viewers, but generally, this was feel-good all the way. Many may keep humming the catchy "Ja Ja Ding Dong" after watching, but Fire Saga's final number on the Eurovision stage was truly a worthy climax brimming with nationalistic pride and fervor.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."