To capture the spectacle and grandeur of an event like Eurovision, you first need to create a huge audience. So, your job is to mimic the behaviour of a crowd through VFX work. Creating realistic CGI stand-ins to populate the massive halls of a stadium. When done right, the effect is seamless. I didn’t even know a discipline like yours existed until just now. It has helped me frame this review.
During my viewing of Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, I couldn’t help but feel like a digitally created member of a crowd. A drone whose sole purpose is to spike Netflix’s viewership metrics and give Will Ferrell another reason to continue making cringeworthy comedies.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a passion project for Will Ferrell. A love letter to the popular competition show highlighting the best of European singing talent. There are good intentions behind the film, but the execution is a low-brow parody.
Eurovision is led by the European Broadcasting Union. Representatives from each European country are voted on by their people. Eurovision Song Contest is written by Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele. They are both American. When you have two Americans write the screenplay for a movie centred around Eurovision, you’re going to get the bias Americans have about Europeans. Silly traditions. Goofy clothes. Funny accents. Accents that aren’t even consistent. Will Ferrell drops his weird, high-pitched ‘Icelandic’ accent multiple times. It’s the second most irritating attempt at an Icelandic accent, behind only Jonah Hill’s screeching performance on Maniac, another Netflix original. Of course, the bias can be avoided with proper research. But let’s be honest: there was none of that in Eurovision Song Contest.
Many of the jokes don’t land, the music is just okay, and to be frank, it’s embarrassing seeing Will Ferrell continue his man-baby shtick after all these years. I was 10 when Anchorman (one of my favourite comedies) came out. I am now 27. Yet, I’m still watching the man run around, screaming at the top of his lungs. Only this time, there’s no laughter. Pictures are moving on the screen. Light rays are being absorbed by my eyes. Yet there’s nothing registering in my head. I am simply a cog that presses play on a piece of content that has been created and surfaced to me because Netflix thinks I would enjoy it based on their dataset.
According to Netflix metrics, Eurovision Song Contest is Will Ferrell’s most-viewed release in quite some time. That should surprise me but it doesn’t. Netflix has a standing deal with Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company (Dear Cast & Crew has a long-standing gripe with Adam Sandler movies). If you look at Will Ferrell’s latest streak of movies and those of Happy Madison, there are a lot of similarities, with the main one being comedy legends who have gotten way too comfortable.
I always try to defend streaming because it's the future of entertainment. This is one time where I wish theatres still had the upper hand. The act of getting out of the house and purchasing a movie ticket was enough to deter people from backing these comedies. It’s why Will Ferrell’s The House, Holmes & Watson, and Downhill were all Box Office blunders. Yet, in the world of Netflix, they’re thriving. As long as the numbers match up, there is nothing stopping more and more programmatic comedies from being churned out. It doesn’t matter if you pick the little thumbs up or down on the selection screen. As long as you hit play and watch till the end—like I did, then you’ve done what you were created to do.