Director David Dobkin
Screenplay Will Ferrell, Andrew Steele based on Eurovision Song Contest by EBU
Starring Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, Melissanthi Mahut
The first surprise when watching the newest Will Ferrell film is that EuroVision Song Contest is actually a thing. It’s easy to speculate that the phrase, EuroVision Song Contest was googled quite a bit this weekend in the first minutes of watching. No one in our house had any idea. There’s also an Asian version. So that’s a plus.
Introduced to the contest by his Swedish wife, one might say this became a passion project for Ferrell. It was agreed the Netflix would release the film. In the tradition of Netflix, the star gets a little more control. The result is overlong by at least a half hour (mainly to include longer songs) but an ultimately successful comedy.
There is much to like in this film. It is a pleasant combination of Step Brothers and Pitch Perfect. It feels relaxed, if earnest. It pokes fun, but gives reverence.
Ferrell is Lars Erickssong, who is still living with his widowed father Erick (Brosnan) in what looks to be his mid 50’s at the very least. He is adored and partnered with Sigrit Ericksdóttir (McAdams). We’re led to believe they are only a few years apart. The cold Iceland winters must be good on the skin of its women, because she looks 20 years younger.
The story is, Lars has a dream of winning the EuroVision contest. Sigrit has a dream of being by his side as he does this…or anything else. Of course in the Will Ferrell tradition, he plays ignorant to the obvious while pursuing the absurd. It’s rote, but it’s cute enough to win the day when Corona has us all stuck inside.
The plot is as predictable as any comedy focusing on a music contest could be. It still has a nice set of songs, a sweet interior and a bunch of nice characters. Some of the sub plots go on about 3 scenes too long, but it doesn’t really hurt us to spend time with such nice people.
Some of the songs are good, some are delightful. They save their best song for their Purple Rain moment. McAdams voice mixes with Molly Sandén as seamlessly to look as though she’s living the song from the inside out. It’s a poignant moment and it’s powerfully stated.
The delightfulness of the film is represented in the moments like when Lars is saved by some unseen characters that have been revered by Sigrit throughout the story. It’s the kind of lunacy that feels right at home when watching something Ferrell develops. It’s brutal and beautiful at the same time.
This film is not great, by any means. It’s totally not necessary. Most comedies aren’t. It is a sweet story, and it does have a handful of laugh out loud moments. It doesn’t ask much, except for maybe a half hour more of our time than it doesn’t necessarily warrant.
At least they put it to good use by letting us hear Husavik.
(***1/2 out of *****)