How amusing you find this affectionate but toothless poke at the titular song battle will largely depend upon your tolerance/fondness for the subject matter.
If you’re mourning the loss of the Euro-peculiarity this year, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, with its cameos (hello, Conchita and Graham Norton!) and earworm songs, will be as welcome as a douze-points score. But if you view the Contest as a self-congratulatory festival of mediocrity and geopolitical micro-aggressions, then the tameness of David Dobkin’s (Wedding Crashers) parody will seem a wasted opportunity. And, if you’ve never heard of Eurovision at all, it’s likely to be somewhat bewildering – caught as it is between reverence and ripping the piss.
Written by Will Ferrell and SNL scribe Adam Steele (with the full cooperation of Eurovision) it centres on Lars (Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) an Icelandic pop duo known as Fire Saga who’ve long dreamed of winning the Song Contest and escaping the fjords and mismatched knitwear of their tiny village, Húsavík (gorgeously lensed).
Seemingly destined to only play gigs at the local hostelry – much to the embarrassment of Lars’ sea-dog pa (Pierce Brosnan) – the couple get their wish when Iceland’s official entrant is blown up. Can they fulfil their destiny when Sigrit nurses a deep love for Lars, while he suffers from imposter syndrome? And that’s before you factor in Russia’s shady contestant (Dan Stevens), smouldering ghosts and a giant hamster-wheel stage prop...
Eurovision filmed stadium scenes at last year’s real-life Contest in Tel Aviv, using songs, sets and costumes that feel authentically ridiculous. But that access also seems to blunt the jokes, which never reach the daft or biting heights of Ferrell’s best work. Only Stevens seems determined to go big or go home, stealing focus with his jaded, preening peacock, who gets all the best lines.