Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
June 28, 2020 8:50 AM - Subscribe

When aspiring musicians Lars and Sigrit are given the opportunity of a lifetime to represent their country at the world's biggest song competition, they finally have a chance to prove that any dream is a dream worth fighting for.

Come for the gorgeous Icelandic scenery, stay for the surprisingly warm hearted Eurovision parody. (And the party sing-along cameo sequence!)

Streaming on Netflix.
posted by the primroses were over (21 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm extremely hit or miss on Will Ferrell's comedic sensibilities, but I thought this was (mostly) on the silly/warm hearted end of his ouevre. Just like in the fictional band, however, McAdams is the star.

I was worried this movie was going to make Eurovision the butt of the joke, but it surprised me - I think they took it on its own terms and also came up with some awesome fake songs.

There were some uncomfortable parts - not sure the throwaway reference to Russia's persecution of LGBT people fit the silly tone of the movie (but also, not wrong!). I liked the Alexander Lemtov character in general, and thought that was an interesting angle to take on the outside threat to our main duo, as opposed to a boring old love triangle. But it felt pretty dark/realistic for an otherwise bubbly comedy.

I was a bit weirded out by the portrayal of small town Iceland as well, but they went extremely hard on making fun of the US tourists, I guess to balance it out? I did love the elves, gonna be gasping "the elves went too far" at my boyfriend alot in the near future.

I liked that the villain was austerity measures personified.

The cast's ages are pretty hilarious. Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell are approximately the same age, and Pierce Brosnan is Will Ferrell's father? Sure, Jan. But I liked them all in their roles, so whatever.

The ending could have pissed me off - in general I am not a fan of the "out of his league woman helps a manchild douche grow up the tiniest bit and they live happily ever after" trope, but McAdams sold me enough on this being what would truly make Sigrit happy that I will allow it.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:17 AM on June 28, 2020 [10 favorites]

From the general buzz I've heard online, Eurovision fans love it. It's the Will Ferrell fans that aren't impressed, for whatever reason.
posted by Naberius at 10:51 AM on June 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

I liked this quite a bit. It was a little too long and sagged quite a bit at times, but David Dobkin did not disappoint with the set pieces (much in the same way as Wedding Crashers), and Rachel McAdams stole the entire show.

But seriously, the romantic angle was entirely unnecessary.
posted by General Malaise at 4:41 PM on June 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

We watched this last night, I was hopeful but a big part of me was expecting to be disappointed. It was pretty good. We laughed, quite a few times. I was quite surprised to see Ferrell was half the writing team, someone had a pretty good eye and ear for the minutiae of Eurovision and the whole thing was pretty nicely done in terms of tone. Ferrell was kept on enough of a leash not to kill things. I'm not generally a Dan Stevens fan but he was just the right amount of over the top. McAdams was solid and gave a well judged performance. Two hours felt like a lot at the 90minute mark but it worked out ok. Overall pretty good, worth a watch, I suspect it would make more sense for people with some familiarity with the ESC.
posted by biffa at 4:58 PM on June 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed Dan Stevens's character and liked how they made him a pretty sweet guy, all in all.
posted by gaspode at 5:45 PM on June 28, 2020 [8 favorites]

I was quite surprised to see Ferrell was half the writing team, someone had a pretty good eye and ear for the minutiae of Eurovision and the whole thing was pretty nicely done in terms of tone.

I can’t find it now, but I read an article that said Ferrell was a big fan of Eurovision, so I think you may have answered your own mystery.
posted by jimw at 8:54 PM on June 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Vox's interview with director Dan Dobkin: When I [came to] the movie, it was a script already. Will [Ferrell] had pursued it; he had fallen in love [with the idea] and wanted to make the movie for almost two decades, and had put a lot of thought and time into it.

From Slate: Iceland’s Real-Life Eurovision Contestant on What It’s Like to Watch Will Ferrell (Sort of) Play Him in a Netflix Movie:
What did you think of Pierce Brosnan’s Icelandic? How did he do?
Not so good! ... I had to turn on the subtitles to understand him.

posted by ShooBoo at 9:00 PM on June 28, 2020 [9 favorites]

Ha, I like that Slate article.
- The most accurate part of the movie is that audiences always want to hear “Jaja Ding Dong.”
- Wait, is that a real song?!
- No.
posted by whir at 9:27 PM on June 28, 2020 [13 favorites]

I mean, the least realistic part of the movie is that the UK would have won Eurovision the previous year to be hosting now. They even have a line about it.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:03 AM on June 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

Whenever any film is Suddenly UK, I figure the Doylist reason is the big tax credit they offer.

The romance was unfortunate (because there was absolutely nothing attractive or romantically appealing about the Will Ferrell character), but I like that all the other contestants were sweet. And I think my favorite joke is perhaps a) elves are real and b) they do not fuck around. With that in mind, it's not surprising that Sigrit ended up with her requested baby by the end.

If anyone else really liked that striped jacket, "Hudson Bay blanket coat" seem to be the magic words for google.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:12 AM on June 29, 2020 [5 favorites]

After watching this I went and watched the Eurivision specials they have on their YouTube channel and I was impressed by how right they got a lot of the songs. Though they did miss the sheer randomness of some of the entries, though I guess that was necessary to focus on the oddball Icelanders.

My favourite bit was Lars saying he would leave the knife in case the elves needed to do more murders. .
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:10 PM on July 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

There's a fun interview with Ferrell on the Las Culturistas podcast, and he talks about being a long-time Eurovision fan - his wife is Swedish, which is how he originally encountered it.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 4:53 AM on July 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

I found much of the plot to be...lacking...but I'll be damned if I didn't have the soundtrack on repeat all weekend. Will probably end up re-watch as comfort viewing dozens of times in the future (same goes for Mamma Mia, sorry not sorry).

I had an opportunity to talk to some family in Iceland last weekend and, while of course there are a couple things that they found jarring (when are there not when a movie portrays something you're intimately familiar with), overall, they seemed to enjoy the portrayal and enjoy the movie.
posted by mosst at 8:40 AM on July 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

I thought it would be terrible, but it was pure family fun (we drop the occasional F bomb at home). I wish the accents were better (I had a college roommate from Iceland) but I loved it. Also, I really really miss traveling.
posted by gryphonlover at 9:47 PM on July 7, 2020

So, the dad is so broke he has to sell the house? But Lars has a perfectly good civil service job? And then Lars becomes a fisherman, the very same job that wasn't enough to support them, on his father's boat, which means he's not pulling in any extra money anyway. I feel like they had more of a subplot that showed Americans why winning Eurovision would be good, but then they suddenly realized that in 2020, there are enough Americans who understand that winning Eurovision is big in and of itself. But then there were some pretty decent jokes that they didn't want to lose, so...

Yeah, all the actual Eurovision stuff was great, but the whole rest of it, meh.
posted by Etrigan at 6:49 AM on July 8, 2020

This was a lot of fun! But I was hoping it would turn out that they were brother and sister after all so Sigrid could go off to Greece with Mita or something more exciting.
Jaja Ding Dong was by far the best song.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:27 PM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Our kiddo watched this, pronounced it hilarious but "probably a lot sillier than real Eurovision."

We spent thirty minutes on YouTube afterwards blowing his mind until he was laughing to tears. It was a nice night.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2020 [8 favorites]

ending could have pissed me off - in general I am not a fan of the "out of his league woman helps a manchild douche grow up the tiniest bit and they live happily ever after" trope, but McAdams sold me enough on this being what would truly make Sigrit happy that I will allow it.

It’s cause the movie really isn’t about Lars - it’s Sigrit’s story. She learned what a badass she really was, stopped giving up all of herself to Lars’s dream, and got a baby in her hometown at the end.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:27 PM on July 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

I thought it was okay - not quite right tonally (thinking back on it, I think a lot of it was the romance, especially with the possible incest jokes), but I did enjoy the murderous elves. Dan Stevens seemed like he was having a lot of fun, and the soundtrack was perfect. Not just the Eurovision parts, but also the amount of Sigur Ros in the soundtrack.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:24 PM on July 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

The song-along was great and I didn't know how much I needed Dan Stevens' entire wardrobe as Lemtov before this evening.

The only downside is that Farrell's one-note man-child character has really worn out its welcome over the years. Also, I am glad "12 points to 'Ja Ja Ding Dong'" was a thing at this year's Eurovision. 12 points indeed.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:44 AM on May 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Okay, so after Eurovision was on, I watched this.

Good points:
* Music is actually good. Actual Eurovision (which I caught an hour-ish of) didn't seem quite as insane as this movie. I like that Fire Saga doesn't seem bad per their music, just so much that they overdo/get into accidents with their production.
* Ja Ja Ding Dong is of course stuck in my head. Why did no one tell me a dirty song was in this?!
* Sigrit is amazing in this movie and deserves SO MUCH BETTER than Lars. Nicer, sweeter, tells him off. I really, really wanted her to end up with Alexander even if he's gay. He was so sweet and nice to her! He was right that she could do better!
* Dan Stevens is HOT AS BALLS in this movie. I was drooling. He was amazing. And he's not a bad guy! He's nice and kind and rich and hot and well, closeted but what can you do there. Sigrit still would have been better off with him. The only false note is I was thinking "ain't no way Dan has a voice that deep in singing," and indeed, it isn't his.
* The use of elves. Muahahahah. Especially in their last scene. Also funny since Will has played an elf.
* The song-o-rama! I want to do this IRL! It was absolutely lovely!

Not so good:
* Will Ferrell doing the exact same way too old manchild crap he does in almost every single movie, except this time with an Icelandic accent. This is pretty much why I wasn't super motivated to watch another one of his movies. I appreciate that he covers different worlds and themes and what (Anchorman, race car driving, what have you.) but I'm so tired of a 40-50-whatever-year-old being that lame. It's not even funny any more, though I did enjoy the end scene in which he's ragging on the Americans but this time it's in an affectionate sort of way.

In this movie it's so obvious that Sigrit is worth a million of him and deserves better and I did not root for him to get the girl and have a baby with her.

Also, I hate to be catty about this, but boy, do they not look the same age. I assume he's supposed to be more her age than her being his for purposes of reproduction, but Will looks like he was rode hard and put away wet, or like he just spent fifteen years working on a fishing boat. It's distracting. Like I can't even pretend I think they are equivalents there, y'all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:12 PM on May 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

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