Answer fast: What are the top five, best Will Ferrell movies?
If you’re anything like me, you likely rattled off (with some variation) Elf, Anchorman, Step Brother, The Other Guys, and Talladega Nights. Well, guess what? You’re fucking wrong because one of them just got bumped, baby.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is the new streaming Netflix smash hit starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. It follows two awkward, small-town Icelandic musicians chasing their big dreams of fame and handsome-Father-respect by competing in the historic (and real) international pop singing contest known as Eurovision.
If it sounds like a weird premise for a movie, congratulations— you’re picking up on all the right clues. When I initially saw the trailer, I was torn between whether this was the single goofiest or most hilarious premise I’d ever heard of. Having watched the movie three times since, it turns out I was right both ways.
Silly though it may be, it only takes five minutes to realize the utter brilliance of Eurovision: it’s almost a scientifically perfect casting of Will Ferrell! Why? Part of what makes every Will Ferrell movie hilarious is his unflinching commitment. It doesn’t matter how bizarre or mad-cap the jokes get. The. Man. Does. Not. Break. Character.
In Eurovision Ferrell plays Lars, a man obsessed with winning the Eurovision singing contest. The journey swings through a series of absurd (and sometimes sinister) misadventures that find him performing on bigger and bigger stages with his signing partner, Sigrit. Sigrit, played by McAdams, is a folksy and lovable character who steps into the world of competitive signing with a voice made of gold and heart filled with wonder.
Sigrit’s joy is infectious and a good balance for Ferell’s single-minded focus and dead-pan absurdism. She’s not too innocent and naive, however. Female leads drawn into big, wondrous worlds for the first time often have a tendency to get caught unaware (this occurs with female and male authors alike).
Not so with Sigrit–she approaches her new surroundings as a fully-aware adult. McAdams pulls this off with a few well-timed, meaningful looks, efficiently imbuing what could have been a lost-lamb-character with a lot of intelligence and scepticism.
Sigrit’s combination of contagious exuberance and watchfulness are in perfect contrast to Lars’ outwardly unimpressed attitude yet inwardly headlong dive into whatever flashy pageantry the powers-that-be require of them.
The story is reminiscent of many other competition-based movies that hilariously bounce a rag-tag group of protagonists through a “triumph-of-the-underdog” arc (Pitch Perfect, Blades of Glory, Dodgeball, etc). But the “happily-ever-after” ending of Eurovision isn’t what you’d expect, given the genre. Rather than relying on a singular moment, the movie defines its heroes by their commitment, bravery, and, ultimately, their hard-earned skill. After all, there are no “now-we’re-magically-much-better” montage scenes in real life, and there’s none in this movie either.
Aside from the amazing casting, acting, and story, there’s a million other bright spots to mention: a scathing reminder of how much Europeans hate Americans; a harrowing side-story of the rakishly handsome Alexander Lemtov; a snarky assistant complimenting Rachel McAdams as a “stunning piece of rice” to her face; the elves.
Conclusion… it’s stupid funny and a shockingly good story. If you haven’t seen it, what are you doing? Go see it. Go see it right now!