Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga
THIS could so easily have been Iceland’s year. With Daði Freyr’s brilliant Think About Things a bona fide hit across Europe and high among the favourites, the Icelanders looked set to end 34 years of hurt — they only entered in 1986 — and finally win the Eurovision Song Contest. And then… well, we know what happened next.
Then, to rub salt into the wounds, along comes Will Ferrell to rip the herring out of Iceland, the Eurovision and everything in between with a movie sending up the whole crazy spectacle. Except — and here’s the twist — Ferrell clearly loves and knows his Eurovision. It would have been too easy to send up Eurovision craziness, poking fun at the costumes, the songs, the partisan politics. Hardcore fans would have hated it, while the wider audience who like a laugh on a Saturday night could have lapped it up.
So it is to his eternal credit that Ferrell — at his hapless best as Lars, half of Icelandic Euro-hopefuls Fire Saga with childhood chum Sigrit (a brilliant Rachel McAdams) — rocks to a different beat.
A rom-com set amid the bonkers bubble of Eurovision, The Story Of Fire Saga has a love story; it has elves; it has wobbly accents; it has Pierce Brosnan looking sexy even with a dead fish in his hand. But most of all it has its heart in the right place.
Yes, it scores sharp points along the way, Ferrell calling out culture-hopping American backpackers; Dan Stevens, hysterical as closet Russian charmer Alexander Lemtov, having a pop at Russian anti-gay attitudes. But it’s done with enough comedy pep to never feel you’re being lectured at.
Eurovision fans will have a ball spotting the galaxy of Euro-stars who pop up in a Songathon sequence — Pitch Perfect goes multi-national — with former winners Loreen, Conchita Wurst and many more in a mega-hits medley. But The Story Of Fire Saga largely steers clear of in-jokery. It’s a Euro-ride everyone can take.
And the music — finely crafted pastiches of typical Eurovision entries — teeters on the brink of parody while never toppling over. Several, like Sigrit’s barnstorming ballad Husavik (Hometown), sound like winners.
If only they’d trimmed it down a bit (at two hours-plus the energy sags) I’d have gone the full five stars. Come on Iceland — next year Fire Saga’s Ja Ja Ding Dong has to be the one.