Will Ferrell enjoyed a long and prosperous career in comedy but has fallen under hard times lately (figuratively, he still has a boatload of cash to his name).
After the unbelievably awful Holmes & Watson sent his cachet into disarray, he also split from his longtime production partner Adam McKay. But after laying low for a bit he's back in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, a very light comedy elevated by a spirited performance from Rachel McAdams.
Given the timelessness of Eurovision, this film could have come at pretty much any time in the past few decades. Ferrell and McAdams play two misfits from Iceland who dream of competing in the Eurovision Song Contest together, with varying degrees of chemistry and laughs.
One big issue is that Fire Saga is too reminiscent of classic brat pack comedies; even a few Ferrell has been in himself! The “dad that dramatically hates his son” trope is alive and well, including the “your son is on TV” line followed by “turn it off,” which is straight out of Zoolander.
If I had to describe the tone, it would be “goofy chic.” It doesn’t ever go completely off-the-wall, and relies on elaborate costumes and exotic locales to help push it over the finish line. The music has a fun a Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping or Get Him to the Greek feel to them, with plenty of European star talent behind the scenes making it all run.
Will Ferrell's Lars Erickssong is kind of an unfunny downer most of the time, gallivanting around as his standard "goon" archetype. He's clearly meant to be the loser of the film, a stark contrast to McAdams' charming (and cheery) Sigrit. Watching the way she prays to imaginary little elves for good fortune and always remains chipper is a treat.
Dan Stevens, who plays the antagonist, could have arguably been the lead! He subsequently compliments McAdam's energy, but sadly comes in roughly an hour in. Normally I prefer actors providing their own singing voices, but for something as silly as this, having them be comically skilled and coming from real singers works.
When Fire Saga focuses on the music, it’s often joyous. But as you can imagine, two hours is a long time to sit through a slightly above average comedy with long bouts of average dialogue; it’s the heart that prevents it from crashing and burning.