It's Eurovision weekend! The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 final will be held on Saturday 13 May, and if you haven't been following the semi-finals and want a warmup before jumping into the plunge pool of international song stylings, I'm here to remind you that the Eurovision movie on Netflix is a good time.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga stars Will Ferrell (Anchorman, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) and Rachel McAdams (Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) as an Icelandic musical duo obsessed with the idea of making it to Eurovision, partly for themselves and partly because Ferrell's character Lars is convinced it will save the town (for some reason).
And they succeed, thanks to a combination of incompetence and an explosion. At which point, the cracks in Lars and Sigrit's (McAdams) relationship is clear, in a way that kind of mirrors the two sides of Eurovision: Lars wants to go big and theatrical with a song engineered to win votes, and Sigrit just wants to sing a beautiful traditional song.
It's a pretty standard comedy setup, but the key to the whole thing is McAdams' performance, because she's genuinely incredible – carrying the acting burden of nearly the whole movie, while also being extremely charming and funny.
And yet the film is still almost stolen by Dan Stevens as Russian entrant Alexandar Lemtov, who manages to be slimy, sweet, supporting, a total snake, egomaniacal and alarmingly vulnerable all in the space of about 15 minutes of screen time. Pierce Brosnan also does great work as Lars' father – and video game fans will get a kick from seeing Melissanthi Mahut (Kassandra from Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, and soon to appear in Meg 2: The Trench) in real life.
Look, I'm not saying the Eurovision movie is an all-time classic, or one of the best Netflix movies overall. It's not Ferrell's best work, his character is all over the place, although obviously he still manages to pull it off overall because he's a pro. And I don't like the way it ends, which seems to drastically pull back on the reins of all the character development that's happened throughout.
But it's a film that really gets why people like Eurovision – that it's this very earnest blend of hardcore musicians, novelty acts and overblown stagecraft that produce something unpredictable – and manages to take the competition seriously, while also delivering some great gutpunch jokes about it. I still (badly) quote Dan Stevens' perfect delivery of his line when the British entry is performing: "She's quite good, but everybody hates the UK, so zero points."
There are plenty of new Netflix movies available right now, of course – don't forget Netflix just announced its slate of movies for the next few months – but if you want something to watch before Eurovision starts so you can kick off your party, The Story of Fire Saga is worth a revisit.