Although he was in his early 30s when he began his career as a leader, Will Ferrell’s big screen production (as well as much of his small screen SNL work) has been largely defined by the midlife crisis. He tends to play characters who are comically inept to accept his limitations, leading to a man in his thirties or forties acting like a boy (Elf), an angry tween (Step Brothers), a college student (Old School), or a general rooster of the walk (Burgundy rum, et al.) So it has been a strange sight, these past five years or so, to see the career of an actor so self-conscious go through his own form of middle-aged drift. Since separating from a long-term collaborator Adam McKayFerrell’s large studio vehicles have increasingly felt like joyless imitations of his previous work, representations of his days of comic glory. They have the “correct” stars and premises, but lunatic inspiration and satire are lost.
Of many ways, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of the Fire Saga It looks like Ferrell retiring to the biggest hits mode, in sync with a movie about cheesy pop music. Like in Step Brothers, plays a fool young at heart and older who lives with a single mother and dreams of becoming a singer. He wears long hair and a ridiculous costume, as he does in Blades of Glory, and the narrative is driven by a contest, a singing competition, now that it has run out of athletics. Eurovision it even has a difficult to handle subtitle in the style of Ricky Bobby’s ballad or The legend of burgundy rum.
But as a helpless underdog with no rational chance to win an international singing competition, this Netflix production is surprisingly lively. It follows the passion of Lars Erickssong (Ferrell), who was rocked by the pain of childhood as he witnessed the triumph of ABBA’s “Waterloo” at the Eurovision Music Contest of 1974. Since then, he has pursued his goal of winning that same contest, to the disappointment of his taciturn father (Pierce Brosnan). This determination has resulted in a longstanding side hustle and bustle leading a gang called Saga Of Fire with his childhood friend Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), who of course has an eternal affection for Lars.
Yes, Eurovision It is another comedy where a man-child inexplicably attracts the loyalty of a beautiful woman. But McAdams is committed to Sigrit’s humanity and cartoon sympathy simultaneously and gracefully. The same as Game night, offers a detailed and believable comic performance in absurd circumstances, all while refocusing what might have been a simplistic part of love interest. Lars is ridiculous, and she is next to him, believing in his dream (and also in the elves). The script by Ferrell and Andrew Steele also offers some nuances: Lars, who compulsively observes that Sigrit “is probably not” his sister (the philandering of his father’s small town casts some doubt), is not completely alien to his love, nor to your own feelings for your lifelong creative partner. He is convinced that they need to put music first.
Through a series of unlikely circumstances not revealed, Saga Of Fire eventually ends up portraying Iceland in Eurovision, at which point it becomes clear that the film is not intended to satirize the melodramatic excesses of competitive pop. Ferrell and Steele seem to have joined a mutual love of gender parody that borders uncomfortably close to the real; have worked together on soap opera nonsense like My father’s house, The spoils of Babylonand Lifetime-movie tribute A deadly adoption. Consequently, the songs in their Eurovision version strive for precision. These are not Lonely Island-style numbers, where the impeccably imitated song offers real jokes, though the production numbers of Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens), with their Lion King energy, come closer. Most of the time, the appreciation of cheese seems genuine. When Lars and Sigrit participate in a house party where real-life winners from Eurovisions’ past perform directly on camera with the bewildering conviction that the public will recognize them, director David Dobkin is not hosting the show for the Yuks. At the same time, he could get something anyway, not through teasing or joking, but from the sheer insane energy of the whole thing.
The film’s sincere fascination with Eurovision results in less dead air among its biggest laughs, even when a predictable story somehow manages to reach the two-hour mark. A good percentage of the movie’s gags are runners, but most of the time they hit; Eurovision It falls short of laughter for a minute, but it has some outrageous moments that kind of like Holmes and Watson If the film says a bit about “funny” European accents, it also takes some time to defeat the Americans with specific and forceful disdain. That has always been part of Ferrell’s work: his understanding of American mediocrity and his delight in delving into his limitations. Eurovision both softens and expands his worldview, allowing him to enjoy dreamy pathos in a small town without getting into the hokey blazer. If you’re playing hits, you’re starting to play them in style.