The Reel Review
Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams star in this Netflix comedy spoof of the Eurovision Song Contest as Lars and Sigrid, the Icelandic duo Fire Saga, who, due to a bizarre string of events, end up their nation’s very unlikely entry in the weirdly wonderful, globally-televised, annual talent show.
Co-writer Ferrell clearly loves Eurovision. The musical performances, the look of the show and even the quirky fandom are all impressively spot-on. The comedy, however, is where the film falls short, with Ferrell’s off-putting character (and frequently annoying performance) leaving a stink on what otherwise is a charming musical comedy. At just over two hours, it is also about 20 minutes too long. Despite that, the film-salvaging McAdams is brilliant, with fun, supporting appearances from Demi Lovato, Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, Downton Abbey), Pierce Brosnan and Graham Norton.
There are two moments hardcore Eurovision fans will want to check out – the 47 minute mark, where a slew of past Eurovision contestants and winners do a fun, giant song-along (below) – and the contest’s big finale – with McAdams doing an impressive lip-sync spectacle of an infectiously cheery, Eurovision-worthy tune from 2006 Swedish Junior ESC contestant Molly Sandén. The comedy is a bit of a dud, but when the cast sings, it soars.
• A lot of former Eurovision winners and contestants appear in the film: John Lundvik (Sweden 2019), Anna Odobescu (Moldova 2019), Bilal Hassani (France 2019), Loreen (winner, Sweden 2012), Jessy Matador (France 2010), Alexander Rybak (winner, Norway 2009 and contestant 2018), Jamala (winner, Ukraine 2016), Elina Nechayeva (Estonia, 2018), Conchita Wurst (winner, Austria 2014), Netta Barzilai (winner, Israel 2018), and Salvador Sobral (winner, Portugal 2017).
• Will Ferrell’s obsession with the Eurovision Song Contest began when he and his Swedish wife Viveca Paulin caught the competition on TV in 1999 while visiting relatives. Ferrell attended 2014’s finals in Portugal, where he saw Austria’s Conchita Wurst win the title and did research for the film.
• Iceland and Malta are the two longest participating countries never to have won the ESC, although Iceland did finish second in 2009, with singer Yohanna’s performance of the song, “Is It True.” Go, Yohanna!
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