My brain is fried lately (with work, living day to day during a global crisis, etc), and sometimes all I can process is comforting media. Usually, that means something silly, familiar, and easy on the psyche. Who knew that Will Ferrell’s latest cinematic effort would check off all of these essential boxes! Once I heard “Jaja Ding Dong,” I knew it would be another steady presence in my stable of comfort movies.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, is a story about two small-town underdogs, Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir (Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, respectively) who want to bring their unique brand of Icelandic pop to the world stage. Lifelong friends and creative partners, Sigrit wants something more, even if Lars is blinded by the lights of potential fame and glory and using both to earn his disapproving father’s love. These two misfits find themselves on an unexpected journey to the Eurovision stage, and shenanigans ensue.
If you’ve seen some of Ferrell’s earlier work (think Blades of Glory), or any movie about underdogs ever, you probably know where this one will end up. However, the beauty of Fire Saga is in the journey, not the destination. Maybe it’s all the world-upending stress of the past 11 months or so, but this is a movie that knows exactly what it is (a silly, loveable romp) and that kind of earnest-ness is a breath of fresh air in our fetid times.
This is, by no means, a perfect film — there are some bits that don’t work for me (see: Sigrit always reassuring people they are NOT siblings) and sometimes Ferrell’s obnoxious brand of humor is better handled after a beer or two. However, these are all outweighed by the pure joy and spectacle of the film itself.
Will Ferrell has a genuine love for the Eurovision Song Contest, and this love is very much present throughout the film — it never felt disrespectful or mean. In an increasingly shitty and cold world, I have to praise people who can translate their joy into art and help us all feel it too.
Indeed, joy is the main word I thought about as I watched the movie for the first time, and it’s the main word that comes to mind every time I hit “play” on the soundtrack. Don’t get me started on this soundtrack — it is a certified banger y’all!! Every time I listen to “Double Trouble,” “Jaja Ding Dong” or even the “Song-A-Long” medley, I can’t help but let my anxiety and fear of the future simply melt away. All I can do is smile, maybe do a little dance in my car or bedroom, and think about the day I can finally show the world my karaoke version of Fire Saga’s greatest hits.
That kind of magic — the magic of fun and silly cinema that isn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve — is something that I hold onto closely nowadays. At first glance, Fire Saga might seem like a meatheaded attempt to parody one of the world’s longest-standing traditions. If you look a little closer, you’ll find something that’s much richer, much sillier, and much more joyful.
Fire Saga’s relentless optimism made it into a constant presence in my rotation of comfort movies. It’s clear that change is the only constant in our garbage world right now, and the times ahead are bound to be volatile and challenging. However, there is some comfort in knowing that movies like Fire Saga can help anchor us during stormy weather and remind us of what lies on the other side of the tempest.