Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga review – too timid for satire

Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams hit a flat note in Netflix’s brand-approved ‘spoof’ of the much-loved carnival of kitsch

Not so much a comedy, more a strained, movie-length featuremercial for the Eurovision Song Contest brand, hung on a plot borrowed from The Producers, and originally planned to coincide with the now cancelled Eurovision 2020. Will Ferrell is phoning it in as co-writer and co-star, playing opposite Rachel McAdams, who though an estimable performer is not a natural comic.

Ferrell and McAdams play Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir from Iceland, of all the uproariously uncool Eurovision-contestant countries, who are a tragically awful pop double act called Fire Saga and yearn to be their nation’s official entry. Against the odds, Lars and Sigrit get their shot at glory.

It’s a strange, tonally misfiring movie. There are some nice gags and the idea that Lars and Sigrit’s relationship is psychosexually arrested in a creepy quasi-sibling state is funny. But basically we can never really laugh at them because they’re supposed to be sympathetic and relatable, so the script pulls its punches. Moreover, we can never really laugh at Eurovision itself, because Eurovision clearly has some corporate say in the film, and in any case Ferrell has clearly understood that mocking the event is the wrong call these days: the correct approach is celebratory affection.

We get the mandatory reference to Abba, some appearances by real-life Eurovision stars and the prominently featured Eurovision logo. The cameo from Graham Norton, playing himself as a Eurovision commentator, is odd: he is shown making barbs about Fire Saga that would be humorous if he was teasing a real singing act, but these singers are a scripted fiction and so are his remarks. The movie is not a disaster, just weirdly pointless.

  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is on Netflix from 26 June.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Will Ferrell to star in Eurovision song contest comedy for Netflix
Actor is writer and star of feature based on the international singing competition

Guardian staff

18, Jun, 2018 @7:19 PM

Article image
Nul points: why Netflix's Eurovision film hits all the wrong notes
Will Ferrell’s spoof can’t get a handle on camp and misses a vital point: Eurovision already does a fine job making fun of itself

Caspar Salmon

03, Jul, 2020 @11:53 AM

Article image
Oscar-nominated Savan Kotecha: 'I’m the most boring person in the world'
Musical comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga acted as a mid-pandemic balm. It also saved its chief lyricist from a songwriting rut

Michael Cragg

02, Apr, 2021 @12:00 PM

Article image
All 69 Eurovision song contest winners – ranked!
From Abba to Céline Dion, chicken noises to lyrics about magical shoes, we rate and slate every winning entry from 1956 onwards

Alexis Petridis

11, May, 2023 @12:00 PM

Article image
Eurovision song contest 2016 – as it happened
It was Australia all the way – until it was Ukraine. Relive the confusion of Stuart Heritage and Heidi Stephens at 2016’s kitschfest

Stuart Heritage and Heidi Stephens

14, May, 2016 @10:44 PM

Article image
Eurovision song contest

This year's Eurovision song contest is being held in Riga this weekend. From Lulu to tATu, all you need to know is here.

Imogen Tilden

23, May, 2003 @4:07 PM

Article image
The Little Prince review – charming story encumbered by Netflix update
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s children’s tale is updated as a flashback story told to a lonely girl in a feature-length animation reminiscent of Up and Inside Out

Peter Bradshaw

05, Aug, 2016 @11:52 AM

Article image
Eurovision Song Contest cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic
The 2020 contest, due to take place in Rotterdam in May, will now be held in 2021

Toby Moses

18, Mar, 2020 @1:26 PM

Article image
Eurovision song contest 2008
An introduction to the finalists of 2008's Eurovision song contest in Belgrade, Serbia

22, May, 2008 @4:07 PM

Article image
Madonna to perform at Eurovision song contest in Israel
The singer is expected to perform two songs during next month’s event in Tel Aviv, which British cultural figures have called on the BBC to boycott

Laura Snapes

09, Apr, 2019 @3:11 PM