Photo | Eurovision
European Broadcasting Union
With no big summer blockbusters competing for your eyeballs, are you bored enough to enjoy Netflix’s “Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga?” Well, if you like Will Ferrell and his signature clueless goober characters, you will enjoy his latest iteration as Lars Erickssong, an Icelandic wannabe pop star who gets a shot at fame when a technicality sends him to the Eurovision Song Contest, a real life global spectacle of which I know nothing.
What made this amiable nonsense watchable for me was Lars’ partner, Sigrit, played by Rachel McAdams with an unexpected delicacy that makes their pop duo and this film much better than it should be. Well, maybe not “much” better, but McAdams does create a genuine character that is a sweet natured foil to her music and potential life partner.
Lars and Sigrit live in a small village in Iceland, practicing their music daily and playing at the only bar, where they want to debut their Eurovision song. But the locals only want to hear a song called “Ja ja ding dong,” which is an innuendo laden pop song in the style called schlager, a genre often considered to be Europe’s most embarrassing.
And embarrassing songs are what “Eurovision” is all about. Outrageous costumes and ludicrous lyrics abound once Fire Saga, against all odds, gets chosen to represent Iceland in the international music contest, Eurovision. Honestly, the idea that Fire Saga was so much worse than all the other over-the-top acts was sort of lost on me; they all seemed equally outlandish, at least until Will Ferrell inevitably, repeatedly, fell down.
Some of his antics are based on real Eurovision performances, including jogging in a giant hamster while singing, and some of the performers are real European pop stars. We meet a lot of these real singers in a legitimately fun party scene at the home of the film’s third major star, Dan Stevens as the contest’s favorite son, Russian star Alexander Lemtov. As real Eurovision stars sing exuberant acapella versions of ABBA songs and other pop staples, the scene is both silly entertaining and genuinely entertaining.
Will Ferrell has been in some of the most memorable, quotable comedies of the past few decades, like “Anchorman,” “Old School,” and any number of other outrageous films that largely revolve around his schtick. This one shares the silly spotlight a bit and while it is a stretch to say that Ferrell restrains himself, there is a dimension of warmth and humanity in the story. In the gifted hands of Rachel McAdams, this pop music misadventure becomes actually kind of romantic.
Even the villain is not really terrible, and he has his own personal plight that is actually handled really nicely. As Alexander Lemtov, Dan Stevens is totally over the top, singing about being some kind of lion, teasing his hair and using a silly accent. But, while his manipulations cause problems for the other characters, his motivations are not evil.
Lest I oversell you on the realism of “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” I must add that Ferrell falls from multiple suspended stage set elements, stuffs his white jumpsuit, and has his life saved by an elf. It is above all a completely ridiculous comedy full of slapstick, pratfalls, insults, accents, explosions and goofy, goofy songs.
But beneath the wigs and camp, there is an uncharacteristically (slightly!) believable relationship between both Sigrit and Lars and Sigrit and Alexander, due entirely to a sweet twinkle in her eye courtesy of Rachel McAdams. She is better than she has to be and that makes “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” a pleasant diversion that offers more than just mean spirited laughs, although it has those too.
“Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” is streaming on Netflix.
The Saenger Summer Movie Series will run from Sunday, July 19 to Sunday, August 30. During that period, the Saenger Theatre will screen a famous classic movie each Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. and each Thursday evening at 7 p.m.
The 2020 Summer Movie Series schedule is as follows:
Sunday, July 19 at 3 p.m. | National Lampoon’s Vacation
Thursday, July 23 at 7 p.m. | Airplane
Sunday, July 26 at 3 p.m. | Citizen Kane
Thursday, July 30 at 7 p.m. | Remember the Titans
Sunday, August 2 at 3 p.m. | Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Thursday, August 6 at 7 p.m. | The Big Chill
Sunday, August 9 at 3 p.m. | Frozen
Thursday, August 13 at 7 p.m. | Muscle Shoals
Sunday, August 16 at 3 p.m. | Footloose
Thursday, August 20 at 7 p.m. | Pretty Woman
Sunday, August 23 at 3 p.m. | The Bridge on the River Kwai
Thursday, August 27 at 7 p.m. | Ghost
Sunday, August 30 at 3 p.m. | Jailhouse Rock
Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $3 for children (12 & under) and seniors (60+). Tickets for all movies will go on sale Friday, July 10 at 10 a.m. The Saenger Theatre Box Office is currently closed, but movie tickets can be purchased at the Mobile Civic Center Box Office (located at 401 Civic Center Drive; open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The Saenger Box Office will be open on movie days. Hours will be 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays and 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Tickets for movies can not be purchased online or by phone.
Limited concessions, as well as beer and wine, will be available.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).