Eurovision

Released in 2020. Written by Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele. Directed by David Dobkin. Starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. Running time 2 hours 3 minutes.

Synopsis

Lars, as a young boy missing his mother, sees ABBA on television and becomes inspired by the music. Sigrit, as a young mute neighbor girl, sees Lars dancing and joins in…the adults laugh at them and Lars declares his quest to be great and for people to not laugh at him.

To the present—Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) are performing their music video for “Volcano Man” when they are interrupted by Lars’ father Erick (Pierce Brosnan). Lars and Sigrit are actually in their practice room and not famous musicians–just aspiring to perform in the world’s largest talent show–Eurovision.

Lars sends their tape of “Double Trouble” to the Icelandic pre-qualifier round council. The council believes their best bet to winning is with Katiana’s (Demi Lovato) song “In the Mirror” but they need one more group to complete the round. Fire Sage (Lars and Sigrit) gets chosen by someone picking their tape out of box.

At this round, Katiana wows the audience as the favorite and Fire Saga–while not terrible–have mishaps which put them at the bottom of the round. As Lars and Sigrit come to terms with failing while all the contestants are celebrating on a boat, tragedy strikes, making Fire Saga the only group from Iceland to proceed to the semi-finals of Eurovision.

Lars and Sigrit make most of being in the big city by seeing the sights, dancing, and drinking. At rehearsals, Sigrit and Lars meet Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens), the Russian performer and favorite of the contest, who is intrigued by Sigrit and invites them to a party at his house.

At the party, Sigrit gets swept away by Alexander for a tour of his house. Lars gets distracted by Mita (Melissanthi Mahut), another performer and close friend of Alexanders, so Alex and Sigrit can get together. There is a group sing-a-long mashup of Cher’s “Do You Believe In Life After Love” with Madonna’s “Ray of Light” and everyone has a great time. Lars leaves Sigrit their and goes back to their hotel room. Sigrit stays the night at Alexanders and finds Mita in bed with Lars when she gets back to the hotel.

At the semi- finals, Lars has changed Sigrit’s costume to include an extra long scarf. The contestants perform including Alexander with “Lion of Love” and then it’s time for Fire Saga. The crowd loves “Double Trouble” but when Sigrit’s scarf gets caught in the hamster wheel set piece–things go awry. Lars is humiliated and wants to leave. Sigrit feels terrible but wants to stay. Lars leaves the competition going home thinking the performance has ruined his chances. The votes start coming in and Sigrit learns they’ve made it to the finals. Lars, heading home, doesn’t know…he goes back and is working on his father’s fishing boat when one of the guys tells him about making it to the finals.

Sigrit’s plan is to perform alone; however, Lars makes it back in time–interrupting the beginning of Sigrit’s performance. He reminds her to sing from the heart and begins playing the music for “Husavik”, a song Sigrit wrote about their home town. She performs the song to great acclaim; however, it disqualifies them for changing their song.

Lars and Sigrit make up and go home where they are received by everyone in town. A year later…they are performing in the local pub with a baby strapped to Lars for the wedding of Lars’ father to Sigrit’s mother.

What I Liked

I loved the music as it was very catchy and techno and cool…the production value for each song is incredible. The enormity of writing each musical character or band, then writing the songs, then styling the vocalist/band, then creating and producing the music video as well as the “live” performances…astounding. Especially since each group–while similar in certain techno regards–has an individual sound. The soundtrack will be popular, I’m sure, more than the actual film.

The costuming was fantastic, even down to Lars’ striped coat. Sigrit’s hair was a character by itself for me as I looked forward to seeing how all of it was going to be styled with each new scene.

The acting was solid with the supporting players. Melissanthi Mahut (Mita) is definitely sexy–as her character states–and she’s natural in her part. Dan Stevens (Alexander) is perfect as the gay-not-gay Russian singer with his sexy magnetic lure of possibilities…Pierce Brosnan as Lars’ father, Mikael Persbrandt as Victor–the guy who doesn’t want Iceland to win–and Demi Lovato as Katiana and the ghost of Katiana. Believable and solid and fun to watch.

The vocal work for Sigrit was performed by Molly Sanden and she is fantastic! Erick Mjones does the vocal for Alexander and is amazing.

What I Wished Was Better

I wish the script was better. I get it’s a Will Ferrell vehicle; but, it lacks the intelligent component of Ferrell’s comedy and lays in the immature gutter younger than even a middle-schooler could appreciate. Ferrell as a stunted adult man works when the character is fully realized as a true person (Elf, Step Brothers, Talledega Nights, Anchorman, Blades of Glory, ….) It doesn’t work when Ferrell takes it outside of himself as a wink to the audience of how funny he thinks he is (Holmes & Watson and now Eurovision). I really like Will Ferrell but he could’ve done better with this.

The scenes with Will Ferrell felt improvised with notes to Rachel McAdams to just play along and then the takes with the least amount of sincerity were the ones kept for the film. I felt bad for Rachel McAdams and her character Sigrit because it could have been sooooo much better. Her scenes without Ferrell were quite good.

I know this must have been a fun film to make with all the singing/performing/costumes/stunts; however, I finished watching it with too many questions about why she was written the way she was. Sigrit felt like a means to an end instead of a equal partner. Why did she have to be a mute? Why did she have to be so much younger than Lars? (Even though the script wants us to believe they’re close in age.) Why does Sigrit have to follow Lars with a puppy love mentality when his sexuality is non-existent and he gives her NO indication of interest? I wanted Sigrit to have greater depth.

**An alternate story** Maybe aging Lars–who has tried to get into the contest and failed many times–and hears Segrit singing to the local school kids or something and thinks she might be his ticket to finally getting to Eurovision…she’s dating the local cop but Lars convinces her to join his solo band Fire Saga. Her voice with his music is what gets them into the contest. His excitement gets the best of him and he creates these elaborate musical numbers which result in mishaps but they prevail. The Alexander/Mita scenarios still happen (except with Mita and Lars really sleeping together). They still lose; but now Fire Saga plays as the local band with Lars and Sigrit and the cop has the baby strapped to his chest…and maybe Mita is sitting in the crowd for Lars with a baby strapped to her chest?

Final Thoughts

A lot of people will like this for the music and production value the Eurovision contest gives the story line. Other people won’t like it because the technical aspects of strong character development for Lars and Sigrit aren’t there and the dialogue between Lars and Sigrit is lazy not to mention the age gap between them and the fact that it’s another story where the female character is in love with a man child who only thinks of himself while she waits for him to notice her. Blech. I give Eurovision 3.5 out 5. Available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below:

Fun Facts: Will Ferrell and his Swedish wife are fans of the Eurovision contest which inspired the film. Many contestants from previous Eurovision contests appeared in this film. Many of the stage props–like the hamster wheel–are an homage to the real stage props used in the Eurovision contest.

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