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24th Jun 2020

REVIEW: Will Ferrell is the worst part of Netflix’s Eurovision movie

James Fenton

The Story Of Fire Saga, the Netflix Eurovision movie starring Will Ferrell arrives on June 26 and Rory Cashin is here to give you the lowdown…

There is no denying that Will Ferrell can be very funny, but there is an argument to be made that he hasn’t been successfully funny in quite a while. His track record over the last decade or so as a leading man – from Get Hard to Holmes & Watson to The House – would show that his last properly enjoyable comedy was The Other Guys, and that movie came out in 2010.

The idea of him making a movie about the inherently loveable weirdness of Eurovision sounds like a sure-fire hit, but unfortunately Will Ferrell (who also co-wrote the script) is usually the least funny part of The Story of Fire Saga.

Growing up in a small fishing village in Iceland under the stern, emotionless watch of his intimidatingly handsome father (Pierce Brosnan, giving the accent his best shot), Ferrell and his best-friend-who-is-actually-secretly-in-love-with-him (Rachel McAdams, reuniting with her Wedding Crashers director) form a musical duo, with the dream of winning the Eurovision Song Contest.

Right from the get go, the script tries too hard to make their world too weird, with constant running gags about Ferrell and McAdams possibly being brother and sister, or McAdams worshiping wish-fulfilling elves that live in the Icelandic mountains. It is almost a full 45 minutes before they get to the Eurovision proper, and even when they do get there hardly any of the jokes are mined from the Eurovision itself. Instead, they’re from Ferrell constantly falling over on stage, or an out-of-nowhere car chase, or the arrival of ghosts for some reason, or an impromptu house party sing-off, filled with previous actual Eurovision contestants.

If you’re thinking that sing-off sounds a bit like that walk-off from Zoolander, you’re not wrong, as the Eurovision movie does borrow liberally from other famous comedies. The embarrassed, angry dad is also swiped from Zoolander, the background of an oddly popular competition will remind you of Dodgeball or Blades Of Glory, while the reasons the duo end up making it into Eurovision in the first place is right out of Father Ted.

Unfortunately, the most liberal of borrowing comes from Ferrell himself, who is continuing to play another variation of a man-child who is prone to sudden bursts of anger, except now he has a thick Icelandic accent. Ferrell is going OTT in a setting that is already way-OTT, when a touch of subtlety would’ve gone much further. The more low-key approach is what McAdams takes, delivering a pitch-perfect performance that constantly reminds us that she deserves much better than this. Ditto with Dan Stevens, who plays Russia’s hyper-masculine entry, and walks away with pretty much all of the movie’s biggest laughs.

The too-long movie isn’t entirely devoid of fun, with the original songs being properly catchy, the supporting cast all bringing the goods, and Graham Norton is clearly having a ball playing himself. It is just disappointing that Will Ferrell, likely the reason why most people would be tuning into the movie in the first place, is the worst part of it.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is available to watch on Netflix from Friday June 26 and the trailer can be viewed below…