The Eurovision Song Contest. The epitome of kitsch, fun, and weirdness, the illustrious annual music festival is adored the world over for its light-hearted, bombastic and hilarious facade so it was a shame for millions across the globe that this year’s spectacular was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thankfully, the huge hole it left in many people’s lives has been filled somewhat by Iceland on two fronts: firstly, the ridiculously catchy “Think About Things” by Daði Freyr and Gagnamagnið which has been an internet sensation through lockdown. And now, secondly, a film about the contest itself courtesy of Will Ferrell (amongst others) that embraces the culture and all its silliness.
Ferrell, one of Hollywood’s premium purveyors of comedy in the last two decades or so, has been on something of a downhill (ahem) slide in recent years, with comedies like Get Hard, Holmes & Watson and Daddy’s Home not hitting the mark: those last two way, way out of trajectory. But his fascination with Eurovision has seen him undertake a twenty-year odyssey to bring it to the screen but with passion, embracing all the contest has to offer. And, finally, it’s safe to say he is back.
He is Lars Erickssong, who from a young age has been entranced by Eurovision and vows to make it his lifelong ambition to compete, and win the contest, much to his overbearing father’s (Pierce Brosnan) chagrin. His dreams are also those of childhood friend Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) and the pair become Fire Saga, whose big shots at the title decades later include “Volcano Man” and “Double Trouble” – both real bangers. Their path to the contest is rocky and seemingly insurmountable but finally, they move one step closer to that dream with only Russian sex-tornado singer favourite Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens) standing in their way of glory.
As with most Ferrell affairs, this time co-writing with SNL writer Andrew Steele, there are plenty of jokes that won’t land depending on where your affection for his brand of humour lies but wherever that might be, this is exactly the kind of film we need in these dark and troubling times. Our lead is solid as ever while Stevens has a ball, but it’s McAdams who steals the film (when does she not?) with a wonderfully gleeful, energetic performance that is one of her best and is the film’s shining light throughout.
Directed with the right dose of energy, verve, and silliness by David Dobkin, it is hard to not fall for this one despite a few bumps in the long road: its two hours runtime is a little over the mark for a comedy such as this and with a few generous nips and tucks, it may have been even better.
Comedy, Music | USA, 2020 | 12 | 26th June 2020 | Netflix Originals | Dir.David Dobkin | Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens, Will Ferrell, Pierce Brosnan, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Demi Lovato