Directed By David Dobkin
Starring – Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan
The Plot – When aspiring musicians Lars (Ferrell) and Sigrit (McAdams) are given the opportunity to represent their country at the world’s biggest song competition, they finally have a chance to prove that any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for.
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual material including fully nude sculptures, some comic violent images, and adult language
– Committed performances. A lot of what elevates the material and charms us the audience into a sense of entertainment is the transformation between Ferrell and McAdams into these Icelandic citizens that is everything challenging about the concepts of acting. Not only are their accents consistently accurate throughout the picture, but their approaches to the characters garner a sense of naivety that makes them easily empathetic. McAdams’ has a surprisingly rich sense for comedic timing, and Ferrell attacked the dramatic depths of the material with a subtle reminder for how gifted of a performer he truly can be when he doesn’t let the material define him. Dan Stevens also steals every scene he is in, chewing as much scenery and smooth, sensual dialogue with a Russian accent that I never expected to hear come out of the British born performer. It summarizes a collection of leads each attacking something slightly more versatile than outside of their conventional wheelhouses, all the while preserving that rich sense of charisma that we’ve come to expect from their vibrant personalities.
– Jam packed soundtrack. The song selections, both original and covered, highlight what is truly one of the more expansive offerings of collections for a movie’s musical accompaniment, all the while churning out some surprises in geographical tweaking that allows them to thrive for entirely different reasons than we’re used to. For Top 40 classics like “Happy” by Pharell, or “Waterloo” by Abba, or even a fourth wall breaking of “In the Mirror” by Demi Lovato, herself, each song is performed with an electronically synthesized context which flare with European jive, audibly enhancing each of them with stadium like intensity fired off with cannons of echoing showering over our ears. For the original material, there were a few songs like “Volcano Man”, “Double Trouble” and especially “Hometown” that infectiously won me over, and made each of these artists feel par for the course, and not just resting on the laurels of the artists who came before them. It summarizes a vast sense of artistry for the film that illustrates the many dynamics of music within these European countries, and does so while numbing our feet with toe-tapping inspiration that perseveres through two hours of film.
– Magnitude of the spectacle. Those who get the most from this movie will be the ones who grew up adoring the Eurovision song contest, complete with all of its odd ball charms that sometimes puts the pageantry before the music. In this regard, the production visually nails the popularity and the lunacy about what makes this such a sought after event year after year, and does so while advocating why it’s perfect for satirical comedy. Besides the computer generated legion of fans that adorn a stadium that feels like it stretches as far as the eye can see, the traditions outside and inside of the show are well documented in a manner so detailed that they must be told by someone who is in the inside of this madness. Rightfully so too, as many past contestants and winners of the show make cameo appearances, primarily in a mid-movie musical number that surprisingly feels like it fits in within this cast of cooky Europeans sexing and serenading it up at a pre-party.
– Enchanting production design. Aside from the stage itself, which articulately captures the immensity of the show, the costume designs, make-up, and especially hairstyles for the movie offer us a dash of fantasy that can only emit from the world of pop stardom. The threads are faithfully European sheik, complete with daring appeal and unorthodox color schemes that give us something visually stunning to look at in every frame within the movie. Likewise, the hair and make-up dash between the worlds of fantasy and reality both in and out of the heads of our two protagonists, colorfully illustrating the diversity between their levels of stardom that infect each of them like a change from within daring them to transform. It gives all sorts of meaning to the production that only feeds to the big stage appeal that much of the movie is about, challenging Ferrell’s earlier hit “Zoolander” for stylistic stimulation that plays into the performances I previously heralded.
– Love story arc. While there are problems with the friendship of Ferrell and McAdams characters that I will get to later, the will they, won’t they? dynamic of their blossoming feelings created a satisfying subplot that although predictable, did make it impossible not to invest in their evolving dynamic. The romantic chemistry between Ferrell and McAdams leaves slightly more to be desired, but what they lack in chemistry they more than make up for in expressive sentimentality, and even when you see someone as gorgeously devastating as McAdams’ Siegret, you still believe in this union because it has sprung from a friendship that began between these two people who only had each other in a world that constantly doubted them.
– Flat humor. Comedy is of course entirely subjective, but my experiences with the film produced two generous laughs that don’t even wait or space out long enough to sell the power of the punchline. Most of the problem is in the dialogue, that doesn’t have the poignancy of “Talladega Nights”, nor the deprecating brilliance of “Anchorman”. Nothing feels remotely quotable or memorable in a sense that allows it to transcend past its two hour run time, deeming it entirely forgettable even minutes after you finish the film. The other problem comes from Ferrell once again trying too hard, and often not writing a punchline for these jokes other than them being said with a quirky Icelandic accent. Watching this movie to laugh might not produce the success rate that you’re hoping for, and even for a show with enough craziness that the jokes practically write themselves, writers Ferrell and Andrew Steele get cold feet for a majority of the experience.
– Lengthy run time. Too many comedies in the 21st century want their movies to be the Judd Apatow slice of life films that warrant more time to sell their many nuances. Unfortunately, “Eurovision” is not one of these deserving instances, and roughly a half hour of this movie could be left on the editing room floor without anything being sacrificed for such actions. Surely there’s problems with time imbalance between subplots that I will get to later, but for my money it’s the film’s inconsistent pacing, particularly between the first and second acts, that doesn’t supplant the story’s most appealing initial takes of intrigue for the many characters and point of views that it introduces. There was never a point when I was truly bored by the movie, just rather impatient with the sluggish movements of the story that felt stalled for a good thirty minutes, and even when it does get moving there’s nothing exceptionally original or profound to what turns up.
– Wasted drama. What could’ve added to this film was reducing the redundancy of the silliness for something more substantial that could’ve transcended this as just another Will Ferrell comedy. Particularly with the disapproving father subplot featuring Brosnan, which gets forgotten about for nearly an hour of this movie’s run time, and only brought up briefly after that with tacked-on scenes to remind us of their dispositions. Here in lies the problem with “Eurovision”, because it actually has some compelling layers of dramatic intrigue beneath this satirical sponge that can’t for a second take itself too seriously to attack the prime conflict within Lars quest for fame. Beyond this, the gentle nature of the characters within the Eurovision show feels every bit contradictory to how they’re originally presented, and only preserve dramatic impact long enough to drive a wedge between Lars and Siegret for the predictable third act distancing. This movie has two of those moments, standing as an example of the wasted minutes that should’ve instead been used to challenge Lars to find his biggest fan in the person with the closest proximity to him.
– Age/timely issues. In the movie, Ferrell and McAdams characters are distanced by a couple of years that have otherwise rendered them best friends throughout. The problem with this, even in the realm of fantastical fiction, is in real life Ferrell being and looking every bit of eleven years older than McAdams, presenting some problems within their union, and some even bigger problems in the facts of the movie once numbers get introduced. If we are to believe this story takes place in current day, and Lars mother dying in 1976, as the movie visually alludes to in the opening moments, that would make him early 50’s at the youngest. This isn’t a problem for Ferrell, who himself in real life is every bit of 52 years old. Unfortunately however, it does hurt for McAdams Siegret, who herself should be early fifties as well in the story. McAdams, 41 years old in real life, couldn’t be fifty no matter how much make-up you soak her with, and it just adds to the questionable casting between these actors that doesn’t always play into the story’s factual strengths.
– Fumbling rules. While the movie’s presentation of the Eurovision Song Contest constantly hits the nail for impressive accuracy, the lack of attention paid to the rules of the contest by the show’s producers presented a few leaps in logic that broke my investment into the film, and broke consistency for all of the wrong reasons. SPOILERS HERE. There isn’t a jury voting segment presented during the Semi-finals like depicted in the movie. In addition to this, Spain as a big five country doesn’t compete in the semi-finals, as it is pre-qualified to the finale each year by default because of its status. Finally, Iceland’s technical difficulties that ruined their performance would be granted a redo, regardless of the show being aired live. These are probably not a big deal to people not familiar with the Eurovision Song Contest, but if you’re going to depict something, you shouldn’t leap logics as easily grounded as the rules of the contest. It makes for reminders of fictional conveniences instead of immersive cinema that that visually transcends the boundaries that these inconsistencies outline.
My Grade: 5/10 or D+