After forging a cinematic a career based primarily on mocking the American institutions of professional sports and broadcast media, Will Ferrell‘s interests have taken an unexpected turn towards Europe’s largest musical competition. On paper, the thought is enticing: seeing Ferrell lampoon the oddly self-serious camp of Eurovision has just about as much promise as anything else he’s ever done.

Somewhere along the way, however, the world-famous actor and comedian seems to have lost a bit of his teeth. Eurovision Song Contest follows the Ferrell-played Lars Erickssong, a man from a provincial Icelandic town who dreams of success at the world-famous competition alongside his musical partner Sigrit Ericksdottir (played by Rachel McAdams). Sigrit is also in love with Lars, but his passion for musical success mostly prevents him from seeing this — and, with that knowledge, you are now capable of predicting the film’s entire plot.

But, of course, no comedy of this type has ever relied on the strength of its plot; it’s the jokes the matter, but in Eurovision Song Contest, they’re strangely difficult to spot. The film has a strange reverence for all things Eurovision and consequently throws away an opportunity for humor therein. Most of the jokes, then, come from the relatively unimpressive dynamic that Ferrell and McAdams manage and the occasional nationality-related barb. It’s not exactly bleeding edge.

The plot here is notable, though, inasmuch as its incredibly clumsy construction does the movie no favors. In films such as these, the central couple is generally on good terms, briefly on bad terms, and then reunited by the film’s end. Lars and Sigrit fall out fairly early on in the movie, frequently threatening to reconcile but never quite managing to do so. The result is something of a slog, making 2 hours feel much, much longer.


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The supporting cast is nothing to write home about, either. Pierce Brosnan plays Lars’s textbook-unloving father, and Dan Stevens plays a competing singer whose fascination with and possessiveness of Sigrit is eventually undermined by his own character’s arc — in short, whatever love Ferrell had for his central characters here he did not share with any others.

As weak as the movie may be as a comedy, it’s difficult not to be compelled by it in the end. An absurdly ham-fisted song-and-dance sequence in the middle of the movie is cringeworthy in its inception but still moving all the same. Eurovision Song Contest is a successful reminder of the power that music can have on both those making it and those hearing it, it’s just not particularly successful at anything else.

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