Will Ferrell has his fair share of solid films and classic characters but the majority of output from him and his production company in the 2010s has been complete garbage with Get Hard and Holmes and Watson claiming top prize for most worthless Ferrell effort. Now he teams up with Rachel McAdams for that rare Ferrell film that sounds good on paper. A parody of the Eurovision Song Contest in which the two central characters form Fire Saga a bumbling Icelandic pop duo who through a series of comedic misadventures end up being the only available options to represent their country at the main contest. Eurovision itself may border on self-parody as it is but it’s still fertile grounds for comedy. That said this is still a Will Ferrell film so expectations were suitably lowered. Did the film makers make the most of this fertile comedic ground?
Not really but considering most of Ferrells output as of recently it’s nowhere near as bad nor as good as it could have been. The odd thing about it is that the third act in which Fire Saga gets to the main Eurovision finals hits just the right comedic balance between respectful and campy. Shame the rest of the film is far too earnest with its parody to make the most of a comedic goldmine. There’s the occasional bright spot outside of the main contest. Dan Stevens steals every scene he is in as the flamboyant Russian competitor and romantic rival for McAdams. There was a knowing chuckle when Pierce Bronson appeared playing Ferrells father given that one of the things he’s known for outside of Bond is butchering the ABBA catalogue (thankfully we are spared his dulcet tones this time around.) There’s also some funny stuff that may be unintentional such as the contest taking place in Edinburgh (with all the interiors filmed at Glasgow’s SEC Hydro) given The Uk’s especially dismal Eurovision record for the past few decades.
There are some original comedy songs built into the narrative and while some of them are just weird enough to deliver a cheap laugh on occasion then nowhere near as memorable as that could be. As funny as the Volcano Man sequence is (probably the biggest laugh the film has to offer) it pales in comparison to anything from The Lonely Islands Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping one of the most underrated and biting satirical films of the past several years. There’s also an extended sequence with a “riff off” that feels entirely stolen from the Pitch Perfect films. That said even as a fan of the first two entries in that franchise this at its worst is a lot more tolerable than watching any of the DJ Khaled scenes from part three.
Despite bright spots a lot of the parody generally falls very flat and feels like the exact sort of corporate approved spoof it is. Much as a Eurovision parody could go hog wild cramming in as many jokes and spoofs as possible you get the sense watching this than to get the official licence to use the name and set the finale at the contest itself (including appearance from Graham Norton doing the commentary) the parody could never be as biting as it would need to be to make the film in any way memorable. It hits all the generic story and parody beats you’d expect it too given the subject matter and never does anything to truly make the most of a promising premise. Take 90 seconds to look up the Volcano Man song and Dan Stevens performing The Lion of Love but forget the rest.