Over the past few years, Netflix has proven itself as a behemoth in the entertainment world, producing a ton of original movies in addition to its myriad TV content. The streaming service is showing no signs of slowing down, with one of its newest releases being Will Ferrell's upcoming comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The new comedy follows a quirky Icelandic couple/music group as they compete in the titular singing competition, played by Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. The movie's reviews have come in, and they're ranging mixed to negative.
Will Ferrell is an iconic comedian who has starred in countless vehicles throughout the years. For Eurovision Song Contest, he worked with Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin, with Ferrell also writing and producing the new comedy. But Ferrell's work with the script has been the subject of some criticism. CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg gave Eurovision 2/5 stars, saying:
Will Ferrell has a big screen legacy that includes some true modern classics – including Anchorman, Step Brothers and Zoolander – but he’s also capable of making exceedingly mediocre stuff like Blades Of Glory and Semi-Pro, and it’s in the ranks of the latter in which Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga falls. Unless you’re fully aware of the real event and find it fall-on-the-floor funny, this is a case of failed capitalization, and while good for a few laughs, overall not worth the 123 minute investment.
Well, that was pretty cut and dry. Audiences know what Will Ferrell is capable of, which is why the actor's long career in film might actually work against him with Eurovision Song Contest. The movie fails to live up to the expectations of Ferrell's work, which has the potential to hurt its chances critically. Although audiences can form their own opinion when it arrives on Netflix shortly.
The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney took particular umbrage with Rachel McAdams' portrayal of Sigrit in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. She's got a long career in both comedy and drama, but apparently her role in the upcoming Netflix comedy leaves something to be desired. As he put it,
While McAdams has lovely moments and is always a winning screen presence, she's primarily a naturalistic performer. Her efforts to match Ferrell's oddball naiveté feel a touch forced. She rocks the maiden-of-the-fjords hairdos and bad knitwear (Anna B. Sheppard's costumes are a hoot), even communing with elves in a folkloric thread that pushes the comedy further into the nonsensical. But she seldom seems entirely comfortable in the role.
Rachel McAdams is an actress known for her versatility, so it's somewhat surprising to hear that she might be a weak point of Eurovision Song Contest. Although this perceptions might also be related to an issue in the movie's central relationship. According to Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson, there was something off about Lars and Sigrit's romance throughout Eurovision Song Contest's runtime. Part of the review reads:
The romance between Lars and Sigrid doesn’t quite ring right; the running joke that people wrongly think they’re siblings is funny, and yet they do kinda seem more like siblings than a plausible couple. Still, one can’t help but root for whatever semi-creepy version of happiness they’re seeking. (The ages of the characters, who fell in love with Eurovision as children watching Abba perform in 1974, never really makes sense. Ferrell is actually in his 50s, so that tracks, but McAdams is only 41!)
Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell are two strong performers, but their work in Eurovision Song Contest was clearly a point of contention for some critics. Pairing these two actors with Wedding Crashers' director seems like a winning combination, although the material itself seemingly stands in the way of the Netflix movie's success.
As for the streaming service's role in Eurovision Song Contest, Variety's Owen Gleiberman actually shifted some of the blame on Netflix. Because while Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga reportedly doesn't live up to the expectations set by Will Ferrell, he actually believes this is partly because Netflix didn't provide much oversight on the project. The review says,
In reality, it’s a badly shot one-joke movie that sits there and goes thud. Eurovision Song Contest is an example of what can happen when Netflix gives too much unsupervised leeway to an artist (as it has several times with Adam Sandler), to the point that the company becomes the artist’s enabler. They’re giving a green light, and a handsome budget, to an idea that needed far more hands-on development to get to a place called funny.
Meanwhile, EW's Leah Greenblatt once again harkened back to the performances by Eurovision Song Contest's pair of protagonists. Because despite their best efforts, she believed that the actors' accents in particular were very distracting. What's more they're reportedly not consistent. Greenblatt wrote:
Which is more than can maybe be said of Ferrell and McAdams; she’s endlessly game — and in a few more emotional scenes, far better than the movie ever requires — but both of them are chained to 'Icelandic' accents pulled from some linguistic map no self-identifying Nord has ever heard of. (Instead, the pair mostly end up sounding vaguely like Transylvanian babies, or just themselves.)
Finally, there were some critics who took issue with Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga's pacing. Quite a few of the above reviews mentioned this, blaming the movie's script in the process. Collider's Matt Goldberg spoke to this dynamic in his C- rating for the movie, saying:
From a plot standpoint, EuroVision should be a slam dunk as it uses the easy formula of the competition movie, but Ferrell and co-writer Andrew Steele pile way too much stuff into the movie. There’s too much of Lars and Sigrit coming together and breaking apart, and the problem with the pacing issues affect the film because a story like this requires momentum. If you’re making a movie about pop music, your film needs to be poppy, and EuroVision frequently drags. There are long scenes where the jokes aren’t landing and the characters aren’t developing, and the film stops dead in its tracks, which isn’t great since we know where this kind of film is going.
Overall, it doesn't look like Eurovision Song Contest succeeded in impressing the critics. Still, it should be interesting to see how Will Ferrell's new Netflix movie performs. Audiences have been known to have their own opinion regardless of views, so we'll have to see if the movie's audience scores are kinder. Luckily, we won't have to wait long because the movie will be available for Netflix subscribers shortly.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga will be available on Netflix June 26th. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.