Friday, June 26, 2020

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga


1970’s. A seemingly anti-social boy suddenly gets up and dances to his heart’s content when he sees ABBA performing Waterloo on a televised broadcast of Eurovision. A young girl joins him in his improvised choreography. As the adults dismiss their infantile fantasies away with laughter, he pledges that one day he will win Eurovision, and they won’t be laughing at him when the time comes. Decades later, Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) are all grown up and form the Icelandic duo called Fire Saga, spending much of their adult lives chasing their dream of musical stardom which proves to be too elusive for small-town folks like them. Little do they know that a mischievous twist of fate, brought about by a series of odd coincidences, is bound to bring them to the very stage they could only dream of when they were young.

Europeans. Eurovision. Football. All Greek to me, to be honest. The extent of my knowledge of Eurovision is Conchita Wurst, as well as the weirdness that is Israel participating when the country is not even in Europe, geographically at least. And then you have the issue of politics. If the film is even remotely accurate, though, it does paint the contest as an event that is both weird and fun, like some sort of strange rave party fueled by nationalist undertones. In this case, I side with the Americans: “Eurovision. Is that, like, The Voice?” LOL.

It’s hard to explain. Perhaps it’s the songs, or the corny combo of chasing your dreams and paying homage to your heritage? Go to the comments section of Húsavík’s official music video on YouTube and be prepared to read a lot of comments saying they are proud to be from Iceland even if they are not from there. For a comedy bordering on slapstick, this movie does a great job with its soundtrack, with many of the songs straddling the realms of ridiculous and awe-inspiring. We only want to hear Jaja Ding Dong!

Oh well, the track listing. The soundtrack is now on loop on my Spotify account. Yes, even Jaja Ding Dong. Jesus Christ, what the fuck is wrong with me. Double Trouble is so damn catchy. Lion of Love is a hilarious anthem for closeted gays. Heck, even Volcano Man is memorable. But the best song award, without a doubt, goes to Húsavík. With a rhythm suspiciously similar to The Greatest Showman’s Never Enough, the song just gives you goosebumps, accentuated by Icelandic parts of the lyrics and that closing glory note that just sends chills down the spine. Kudos to My Marianne for providing Sigrit’s singing voice.

As Regina George would say, she is not retarded, she knows what lip syncing is. It is McAdams' job as an actress to make us believe that her character is doing whatever it is that they make her appear to be doing. In this regard, she totally commits, and maybe those who are not familiar with her might even believe that she is actually the voice behind Sigrit’s songs. The character can be annoyingly naïve but she is defo the heart of this story, and McAdams makes sure that you are well aware of that.

Would it be wrong for me to admit that I really enjoyed this movie? Like, SO MUCH? I am not a big fan of Ferrell and it seems to me that this project is yet just another attempt to come up with another one of his absurdist hit-or-miss comedies, and then they somehow ended up with the same old shit that is fun but doesn’t make much sense, yet for some reason heartwarming just the same. Feel-good. Maybe that is the operative word. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments that hark back to that time when slapstick comedies like Austin Powers could crack you up really bad, a guilty pleasure just for the laughs, but with a heart.

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