Rated PG-13 for crude sexual material including full nude sculptures, some comic violent images, and language
2 hours 3 minutes Â· Streaming on Netflix
Even though Will Ferrell is a household name, youâ€™d have to go back to 2010â€™s The Other Guys to find a Ferrell-starring comedy that resonated with both audiences and critics.
The 2010s have not been kind when it comes to lead roles for the oafish SNL alum. His latest offering, Netflixâ€™s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, looks to replicate the joyous goofiness of Aughts underdog comedies like Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory. With the help of a strong supporting cast, it barely gets there.
Ferrell plays Lars Erickssong, a native to a small Icelandic town who has dreamed of winning the Eurovision contest ever since he was a boy. His comrade in musical stardom is Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), Larsâ€™ childhood friend who makes up the other half of their fledgling pop duo Fire Saga.
Their dreams seem to come into focus when their audition tape is randomly selected by Icelandâ€™s Eurovision committee and theyâ€™re whisked away to Scotland to participate in the international music competition. Along the way, they run into challengers like the fiery Russia representative Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens) and the seductive Greek singer Mita Xenakis (Melissanthi Mahut).
Using even rudimentary criteria, I wouldnâ€™t classify Eurovision Song Contest as a â€śgood movie.â€ť Itâ€™s half an hour too long, it has many punchlines that donâ€™t work at all, and the overall story arc is as predictable as can be.
Having said that, I chuckled consistently at its go-for-broke spirit and naĂŻve playfulness. In these dispiriting times, that certainly must count for something. Ferrell is reprising his man-child schtick to limited effect, albeit with a silly accent thrown in for good measure, but McAdams proves, after her outstanding turn in Game Night, that sheâ€™s able to find just the right notes in a broad comedy like this.
Another standout among the supporting players is Stevens, who has been quite bad in recent films like Beauty and the Beast and The Call of the Wild but rebounds here nicely with a haughty role clearly modeled after George Michael. A snippy conversation about gender fluidity that he has with McAdamsâ€™ character scores the biggest laughs in the entire film.
Itâ€™s a shame that director David Dobkin couldnâ€™t find more for Pierce Brosnan to do as Larsâ€™ father other than looking handsome and mortified as he watches his son fail on live TV. Given Brosnanâ€™s role in the Mamma Mia! films, Iâ€™m shocked that they couldnâ€™t at least manage a more overt ABBA connection for laughs.
While the songs arenâ€™t as memorable as those from other musical comedies like Walk Hard or Music and Lyrics, the Fire Saga tracks â€śHusavikâ€ť and â€śDouble Troubleâ€ť are sufficiently catchy. The funniest music moment comes courtesy of Lemtovâ€™s uproarious tune â€śLion of Love,â€ť which Stevens performs with appropriately garish aplomb.
Elsewhere, the film surprisingly does a decent job at incorporating Icelandic culture. The countryâ€™s picturesque scenery is a highlight. And if you think this movie doesnâ€™t offer several Sigur RĂłs music cues at climactic moments, you have another thing coming.
As innocuous distractions go, you could certainly do worse than Eurovision Song Contest.
New to streaming this weekend
Available on Disney+ is Hamilton, a live Broadway recording of the smash hit musical starring Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. about founding father and first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
Available on demand is The Outpost, a war drama starring Scott Eastwood and Orlando Bloom about a small team of U.S. soldiers as they battle against hundreds of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
Available on Netflix is Desperados, a comedy starring Anna Camp and Nasim Pedrad about a young woman who rushes to Mexico with her friends to try to delete a scathing email she sent to her new boyfriend.