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Film / Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a 2020 comedy film directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) and written by Will Ferrell & Andrew Steele.

Based on the song competition of the same name, the film follows Icelandic pair Lars Erickssong (Ferrell) and Sigrit Ericksdottir (Rachel McAdams) as they fulfill their lifelong dream to represent Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest, competing as a duo called Fire Saga. Pierce Brosnan, Demi Lovato, and Dan Stevens also appear in supporting roles.

A soundtrack album featuring the songs from the film has also been released, preceded by the single "Volcano Man".

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Katiana is universally approved by the Icelandic delegation and is their preferred candidate for Eurovision. Or at least, everybody but Karlosson.
  • Adam Westing: Graham Norton plays up the cattiness he's known for as the BBC's Eurovision commentator.
  • Advertised Extra: Fans of Demi Lovato were excited to hear that they had been cast in the film, only to watch it and see their character get killed off after very little screen time. She does appear a couple of times after this, though, in the form of an unhelpful ghost.
  • Advertising by Association: The trailer points out that the film is "from the director of Wedding Crashers" (which featured both Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, though not together).
  • Age-Gap Romance: Averted, as Lars and Sigrit are supposed to be similar ages. However, in Real Life Will Ferrell is eleven years older than Rachel McAdams.
  • Anonymous Band: Fire Saga's backing group when they play in their local pub, which includes an elderly, bearded accordionist and a twelve-year-old boy on the drums.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Lemtov is deeply closeted to all but Mita because of his country's policies.
  • Artistic License:
    • The actual Eurovision Song Contest semifinals do not see the hosts going from country to country to collect their votes; only the top ten countries - in no specified order - are announced, with the voting not revealed until after the Final. This was likely done earlier in the process here since Fire Saga are disqualified during the final and the voting isn't shown to the audience.
    • As three of the biggest contributorsnote , Germany, Spain and the UK would not be taking part in the semifinal; they would instead pass straight to the final. And the contest takes place in Edinburgh, so even if the "Big Five" didn't exist, you'd expect the UK to still get a free pass to the final being the host country.
    • Contestants actually have the ability to request a do-over performance after all the other competitors have performed if their initial performance goes awry (such as Spain's Daniel Diges performing twice in 2010 when his first performance was interrupted by a stage invader), so hypothetically, Sigrit and Lars would've been within their rights to try again after their disastrous first performance. Then again, it wouldn't have mattered if Lars had already departed for Iceland before they got the chance.
    • The film takes several creative liberties with the names of the Icelandic characters:
      • Iceland uses the patronymic system; thus, surnames are formed by combining the name of the father, or sometimes the mother, with the ending -son (with men), -dottir (with women), or -bur (with gender-neutral people). Yet the last name of both Lars and his father is Erickssong, with an inexplicable extra "g" at the end.
      • A few of the first names are spelled oddly as well: "Sigrit" should be "Sigríður," "Helka" should be "Helga," and "Erick" should be "Eiríkur."
      • "Lars" is a common name in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, but rare in Iceland.
      • One of the members of the Icelandic selection committee is called Neils Brongus; neither his first name nor his last name is Icelandic or even Scandinavian ("Niels" is a common Scandinavian name, but not "Neils").
    • Sweden's performance sees seven people on stage. The rules state that only six people (including off-stage backing singers) are permitted per act.
    • At one stage during the voting sequence, the Netherlands appears on the scoreboard twice. With the exception of 1956, no country has had more than one song.
    • Lars and Sigrit would not have traveled to Edinburgh alone—they would have had a large entourage consisting of makeup artists, backup dancers, and others. Further, their act would have been planned out in detail prior to the official rehearsals. In fact, that's the whole point of the tech rehearsals.
    • As the UK is the host country, the presenters would have been from there, rather than eastern Europe. note 
    • The rules of the contest state that only the vocals can be live during a Eurovision performance; therefore, Lars wouldn't have been allowed to play the piano during the final rendition of "Husavik."
    • Lars shouldn't have been able to simply walk out of Eurovision the way he does in the film. The halls of the auditorium would have been filled with people, most of whom would have tried to stop him.
    • In reality, there is no way any event would just keep going after a setpiece malfunctioned so badly it fell off the stage and nearly choked out a performer. The stage crew would have called halt and medics would have been all over anyone who was on stage at the time.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Leaving aside for a moment the fact that Karlosson is killed by elves, the notion that such a small knife would have been able to do so much damage is somewhat dubious, particularly since he gets stabbed in the back rather than the front. And even if they had managed to hit a vital organ, Karlosson's death would not have been instantaneous as it is in the film. Possibly it just works because they are elves.
    • It's unlikely that Sigrit would be able to sing and speak perfectly after being violently yanked to the ground and then dragged along by her neck. Even though she manages to get a grip on the scarf so the pressure isn't directly on her throat after the first couple seconds, that initial pull would be pretty severe.
  • Artistic License – Geography:
    • There is no large live music venue in the middle of Edinburgh. The one in the film is the Hydro, which is located an hour away in Glasgow.
    • Alexander Lemtov has an estate in Edinburgh (actually Knebworth house in Hertfordshire, southern England) that offers great views of Arthur's Seat and Edinburgh Castle. To get the same view, you'd have to build it on Calton Hill in the middle of the city - a site that includes Nelson Monument, a listed building. In fact, Lars and Sigrit both visit Calton Hill on segways shortly after their arrival in Scotland.
  • Ascended Fans: Lars and Sigrit, who represent their nation in Eurovision after being fans of the competition their whole lives since watching ABBA perform "Waterloo".
  • As Himself:
    • Salvador Sobral, who won for Portugal in Kyiv 2017, appears singing "Amar Pelos Dois", the song he won with.
    • Graham Norton, who has been the BBC's Eurovision commentator since taking over for long-time commentator Terry Wogan in 2008, as well as the regular host of other Eurovision functions, appears in the film as himself, proudly continuing Wogan's tradition of alcohol-induced snarking.
    • The Song-A-Long sequence features a variety of past Eurovision contestants, including John Lundvik (Sweden; fifth, Tel Aviv 2019), Anna Odobescu (Moldova; semifinalist, Tel Aviv 2019), Bilal Hassani (France; sixteenth, Tel Aviv 2019), Loreen (Sweden; winner, Baku 2012), Jessy Matador (France; twelfth, Oslo 2010), Alexander Rybak (Norway; winner, Oslo 2009; fifteenth, Lisbon 2018), Jamala (Ukraine; winner, Stockholm 2016), Elina Nechayeva (Estonia; eighth, Lisbon 2018), Conchita Wurst (Austria; winner, Copenhagen 2014), and Netta (Israel; winner, Lisbon 2018).
    • William Lee Adams, co-founder of popular Eurovision fan blog Wiwibloggs, appears as himself alongside Graham Norton as a commentator.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • Some Icelandic viewers thought Will Ferrell's accent sounded more Swedish than Icelandic. It is possible that this was influenced by Ferrell's wife, who is Swedish.
    • Pierce Brosnan was also accused of sounding Swedish, though others thought he sounded Irish or Welsh.
  • Babies Ever After: The ending has Lars and Sigrit performing, with the former carrying a baby on stage.
  • Bad Girl Song: "Come and Play (Masquerade)," as performed by Mita Xenakis.
  • Bad Luck Charm: Every time Fire Saga attempts to perform "Double Trouble," something goes wrong, ranging from interruptions to dangerous mishaps.
  • The Beard: Invoked; it's implied that Lemtov wants Sigrit to serve as this for him after the competition, since Russia doesn't look kindly upon gay men. She's flattered but turns him down.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Sigrit is best friends with Lars, much to the town's befuddlement. She tells her mother it's because when she was a child, Lars helped her find her voice by inviting her to sing.
  • Bedmate Reveal: After a long night of partying, Sigrit wakes up in Lemtov's bed. Returning to the hotel room she shares with Lars, she finds him in bed with Mita.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: During the semi-final performance, Lars desperately yells that everything is under control as his hamster wheel careens towards the audience.
  • Betty and Veronica: With Lars as the Archie, his kind childhood friend Sigrit is the Betty and the sexy, seductive Mita is the Veronica. He chooses Sigrit.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The film has three main antagonists who each have different goals. Alexander Lemtov and Mita Xenakis try to split up Sigrit and Lars because they want the two, respectively, for themselves, but as noted under Villainy-Free Villain, they never do anything downright evil to achieve these ends and stop when seeing how much Sigrit and Lars mean to each other. The only true villain is Victor, who orchestrated the murder of all the Icelandic Eurovision contestants save for Lars and Sigrit in an attempt to prevent Iceland from winning the contest so it wouldn't have to face the struggles of holding the contest the next year.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Lars and Sigrit finally do it after their finale performance.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Lemtov is apparently very well-endowed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lars sacrifices his chance to win Eurovision to win back Sigrit's trust by playing the song she wrote, which gets them disqualified. However, he and Sigrit have a child, while earning the respect of their hometown at last. The fact that they are now internationally-known artists means that Lars has made something of his life.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Played with. Lars doesn't pursue Sigrit not because they might be siblings, but because romance ruins bands.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Lars and Sigrit aren't brother and sister, but it's a Running Gag that they might be because of how Lars' father is purported to have fathered half the people in their village (and both their fathers are called Erick). At the end, Sigrit's mother and Lars' father do marry. In real life, Iceland's population is small and homogeneous enough that almost everybody in the country are distant cousins.
  • Call-Back:
    • The two scenes in which Fire Saga play "Jaja Ding Dong" in the local pub, once at the beginning of the movie and once at the end.
    • Lars rage-crying after Fire Saga's Icelandic qualifier performance goes wrong, compared to Sigrit crying when Fire Saga makes it to the Eurovision finals.
  • The Cameo: Aside from everyone already listed in As Himself, English band Anteros appear in the film as Finland's Eurovision entrants, The Wonderfour.
  • Camp Gay:
    • Lemtov tries to present himself as a Camp Straight, but really is this.
    • Kevin Swain, Fire Saga's production coordinator. There are hints that he may have been in a relationship with Lemtov.
  • Cape Snag: A variation involving a different piece of clothing to a similar effect. The semi-finals performance starts going off the rails when Sigrit's long scarf gets caught up in Lars's hamster wheel. It goes downhill from there as the wheel ends up loosening from its support and spinning into the crowd, dragging poor Sigrit along all the way.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Casual-Competitive Conflict: In-universe example, as Lars' and Sigrit's contrasting attitudes toward Eurovision lead to friction between them. Lars is obsessed with winning at all costs; Sigrit cares more about expressing herself authentically and sharing Fire Saga's music with the world. This is most clearly seen in a conversation between the two in the Netflix Nordic promotional video for the film:
    Lars: At the end of the day it is a competition and you're looking to crush your opponent.
    Sigrit: And share your music, too.
    Lars: Yes, share your music, of course. I would just say one thing—if you view Sharing and Winning as two different children, and you only had money for one of them to go to college, you would send Winning.
    Sigrit: Um...
  • Cathartic Scream: Lars does one of these to let off steam after nobody in Húsavík wants to hear "Double Trouble." It causes a large block of ice to dislodge from a nearby glacier.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: This appears to be an aesop in the film, as both Lars and Sigrit realise that their feelings for one another are more important than winning Eurovision and go back to playing at the pub in Húsavík.
  • Chaste Hero: Lars argues that he and Sigrit should not enter into a romantic relationship because this would destroy the band (using Fleetwood Mac and, less accurately, Simon & Garfunkel as examples of groups this had already happened to).
  • Chewing the Scenery: Olaf. He's only in the film for about a minute but is beloved by the fandom for his over-the-top obsession with "Jaja Ding Dong."
    Olaf: You have to play it!
    Lars: Why do I have to play it? I already played it!
    Olaf: I don't care! You have to play it again!!
    Lars: Tell me, when will it be enough for you?!
  • Comically Missing the Point: Lars' main takeaway from what Karlosson says as he's attempting to strangle Lars to death is that he thinks Fire Saga could actually win Eurovision.
  • Competition Freak: Lars has been determined to win Eurovision ever since watching ABBA's 1974 winning performance of "Waterloo" on TV. This contrasts with Sigrit, who is more interested in making heartfelt music for its own sake. Alexander Lemtov also is amused, because as he points out, this is meant to be a friendly competition.
  • Complexity Addiction: Lars' undoing is his drive to create a technically elaborate showstopper. He develops lavish routines, but they always go wrong because he doesn't adequately prepare for the actual performances.
  • Consolation Award: In-universe. Despite their first performance going horribly wrong, Fire Saga are awarded a place in the finals.
  • Cope by Creating: When she mistakenly believes that Lars has slept with Mita, Sigrit knits a sweater with a frowning face on it.
    Mita: That sweater is very angry.
    Sigrit: Good.
  • Covert Pervert: Sigrit always looks directly at Lars as she's singing the filthiest lines in "Jaja Ding Dong."
  • Crocodile Tears: Lars attempts to look unhappy about the ship explosion. He doesn't pull it off too well, as he realizes that Fire Saga is now the Icelandic competitor by default. (Sigrit's saddened reaction to the deaths of all the other contestants seems more genuine, though even she starts dancing in joy.)
  • Cry into Chest: Sigrit begins weeping into Lemtov's chest after Iceland is awarded a spot in the finals.
  • Cute Mute: Sigrit was this as a child; she never talked. As an adult, she says that she was never able to until Lars invited her to sing.
  • Cynic–Idealist Duo: Lars is extremely suspicious of all the other Eurovision contestants, while Sigrit is far more open to taking their advice and making friends with them.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Katiana appears as a Spirit Advisor, but this scares Lars and he doesn't hear it... leading him to experience first-hand that Victor Karlosson would attempt to kill him. By the time she appears again, Lars even asks if her ghostly powers didn't allow to see the murder attempt. She's just as shocked as Lars that Karlosson not only already tried to kill him, but was also killed himself.
  • Dead Star Walking: After receiving much hype for being cast in the film, Demi Lovato’s character gets unceremoniously blown up five minutes after being introduced.
  • Death as Comedy: The deaths of the Icelandic contestants on the boat party, as well as Karlosson's murder by the elves, are all Played for Laughs.
  • Death by Irony: Victor by the time he tries to kill Lars. He reveals he blew up the ship to keep Iceland from winning because they're bankrupt and wouldn’t be able to afford hosting the next competition. The irony being that as much as Lars has wanted to win, he's only heading back to the finals to get Sigrit back by doing something that would get them disqualified anyway. So at this point, Victor's attempts to kill the contestants have now been for nothing and literally gets the ax from the elves for his trouble.
  • Determinator: Lars and Sigrit's performance in the semifinals goes horribly wrong just like their first one, but this time, Lars and Sigrit get back up and finish the song. Even though the audience is stunned at at first, they end up applauding after the duo leaves the stage. This turns out to be the thing that finally helps Lars win his father, Erik's, approval. Erik describes this quality as "Viking spirit."
  • Diegetic Musical: The film centers around a song contest, and all the songs are performed as part of the contest. The one exception, "Volcano Man," is an Imagine Spot where Lars and Sigrit imagine themselves in a music video while practicing their singing.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: Lars knocks one of these over during his rampage of Unstoppable Rage after Fire Saga's embarrassing and painful semi-final performance. Its occupant is not amused.
  • Doom It Yourself: Most of Fire Saga's more serious onstage mishaps are caused by Lars' perfectionism and last-minute changes to the staging.
  • Double Standard: The scene where Mita tries to seduce Lars, despite his vocal protests, is Played for Laughs, which put off some viewers. Downplayed in that it’s revealed she did ultimately listen and back off, avoiding full-on Double Standard Rape: Female on Male.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Subverted. Lemtov asks Mita to seduce Lars so that he can talk to Sigrit about her joining his next tour. Lars is Not Distracted by the Sexy, and he's surprised when Mita storms into his hotel room and jumps on him; we see her waking up in his bed when Sigrit returns. The next day, after seeing Lars and Sigrit arguing, Mita comes to Sigrit and reveals that Lars refused to sleep with her. She was surprised but respected his wishes.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Lars makes an American drive as fast and dangerously as possible to ensure he'll arrive at the Eurovision finale just in time. He achieves this by convincing the teen that there are no speed limits in Europe. The American is very pleased to hear this.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Nobody takes Fire Saga seriously at the beginning of their musical journey, especially not Lars' father.
  • Eagleland: Mixed flavor. Lars runs across a quartet of American backpackers multiple times in the film. They're depicted as being a bit ignorant and only superficially interested in Europe, but they're ultimately harmless and Lars is the boorish one in their interactions. Plus, Lars ropes them into helping him (unwillingly) in the climax.
  • Easily Impressed: Lars and Sigrit, being from a small town in northern Iceland, are amazed at basically everything they find in Edinburgh, from the parties they attend down to the mini-bar in their hotel room.
  • Epic Fail: Where to begin with the semi-finals performance? Sigrit's overly long scarf gets caught in Lars' hamster wheel, which promptly breaks loose of its fastenings and starts barreling towards the audience, dragging Sigrit along behind it. As it hurtles off the stage, Lars jumps out of the wheel, while Sigrit is pulled onto the ground in its wake. It's a wonder the two weren't more seriously hurt.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • The whole town (including his own father) sees Lars as the local oddball and thinks that Sigrit is wasting her life on him. However, when the duo is about to premiere on an international stage, the residents yell at Erick for not supporting his son when he's actually achieving his dream.
    • Despite playing a cattier version of himself, Graham looks worried for Sigrit when seeing her scarf is going to get caught in the hamster wheel.
  • Evil All Along: Victor, one of the heads of the music company that selects Icelandic contestants for Eurovision, is revealed to have been behind the ship explosion that kills the other Icelandic contestants. He later tries to murder Lars, while revealing his secret to him.
  • Fag Hag: Mita turns out to be this to Lemtov.
  • Feud Episode: At one point, Sigrit and Lars get into an argument which culminates in Lars threatening to have sex with everybody in the room.
  • Fiction 500: To flaunt his wealth and ego, Lemtov's mansion contains several marble statues of himself. They're all nude, and depicted with large genitalia. Lemtov claims they're from ancient Greece.
  • Foreshadowing: Before Fire Saga's semifinal performance, Sigrit worries that her scarf is too long. The scarf ends up getting caught in Lars' large hamster wheel, and the resulting chaos injures both of them and effectively tanks the performance.
  • Full-Name Basis: Kevin Swain, Fire Saga's production coordinator, is invariably referred to by both his first and last name.
  • Gag Censor: The lyrics to "Double Trouble": Up is down, down is up, I don't really give a (WHAT!)
  • Gasp!: Sigrit lets out a big one when Lars argues that elves don't exist.
  • Hero Antagonist: Alexander Lemtov is technically this. While he wants to separate Lars and Sigrit, his points are legitimate: Sigrit could benefit him as his beard and musical partner, and she is letting Lars hold her back musically. Sigrit even realizes that while he quite clearly has ulterior motives, he is the only person who sees her for who she is. On top of this, Lemtov also comforts her after Lars ditches her in Scotland, and is implied to have pulled some strings to get Fire Saga into the Eurovision finals. For someone meant to be an antagonist, he is a decent guy.
  • A Hero To Their Hometown: Lars and Sigrit become this by the end of the film.
  • Hidden Depths: It's revealed Sigrit is a fast knitter. Mita likes the angry-face sweater she's doing.
  • Homesickness Hymn: "Húsavík" is this for Sigrit.
  • Hope Spot: Thanks to the Iceland PR team and Kevin Swain, Fire Saga actually shape up for the semi-finals. Lars shows up on time for his cues, and Sigrit is less scared of the special effects. The audience is impressed and starts clapping along for their performance. Then Sigrit's scarf gets caught on Lars's hamster wheel, which rolls into the audience and nearly chokes her. Understandably, everyone is shocked and disappointed.
  • Horny Vikings: "Volcano Man" invokes this trope by having Lars dressed like a viking.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Will Ferrell is nearly a foot taller than Rachel McAdams.
  • If You Thought That Was Bad...: This conversation between Lars and Sigrit:
    Lars: My father is ashamed of me.
    Sigrit: No he's not! That's not true.
    Lars: No, it is true. After you left he looked me deep into the eyes and said "I am ashamed of you."
    Sigrit: Oh, I don't know if that's—
    Lars: And then, he said "You have wasted your whole life on this one stupid idea of the Eurovision song contest. And now you're a grown man without a wife, without a child—your life is a joke."
    Sigrit: Maybe he was drunk.
    Lars: No—he said, "And you might think that I'm drunk, but I am dead sober. And I'm very serious."
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: Lars, while arguing with Sigrit, yells that he would easily sleep with Kevin Swain, who seems flattered.
  • I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: The contestant from San Marino is inexplicably weeping during his performance.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Many of Lars' costume designs are tacky, as is Sigrit's aggressively-sequined party dress (her usual knitwear is probably better classed as dorky). Then there's this exchange between the two prior to their performance at the Icelandic national final:
    Sigrit: Should I draw attention to my groin area as well?
    Lars: Now you get it, yeah.
    Sigrit: I could do a camel.note 
    Lars: Do a classic camel. It's never out of style.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Lars and Sigrit are fully present during a tense conversation when the Icelandic delegation are (quite rudely) lamenting that they will be representing Iceland at Eurovision, although they still seem more excited than offended at being insulted to their faces.
  • Imagine Spot: The "Volcano Man" sequence is this for Lars, imagining the song as a music video while performing it in his father's basement.
  • Incoming Ham: The Incredibly Long Note at beginning of "Lion of Love".
  • Incredibly Long Note:
    • Alexander Lemtov opens "Lion of Love" with long drawn out "Looooove".
    • The final note of "Husavik" is very long and sung at full voice, symbolizing Sigrit's awakening as an artist.
  • Intercourse with You:
    • "Jaja Ding Dong".
    • The innuendo-laden "Lion of Love", supported by an equally suggestive dance routine.
  • In the Back: How Viktor Karlosson dies while he's garotting Lars with a watch, via a tiny knife thrown into his back by the elves.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Katiana's ghost is charred and burning from the boat explosion that killed her, as well as missing the arm that landed in front of Sigrit.
  • Jump Scare: An In-Universe example. At Fire Saga's first practice session in Edinburgh, Sigrit is frightened by both the backup dancers that suddenly swarm around her and the shooting flames.
  • Just Friends: Averted with Lars and Sigrit, but played straight with Lemtov and Mita as the former is revealed to be gay at the end of the movie.
  • Karmic Death: Karlosson getting knifed in the back by the elves is pretty karmic, given that he's trying to kill Lars just like he killed the other contestants. Additionally, he dismissed the belief in elves right before he died as proof that Iceland is still living with one foot in the Dark Ages.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All:
    • Lars, when he is phonetically parroting terms used by the In-Universe K-pop star Jae-Bong.
      Lars: I had them to go back to the way the song originally was. Before Jae-Bong added the "fresh, coz" flow and all the bish.
    • Also, Lars using Post Malone (a solo artist) and Simon & Garfunkel (a duo composed of two heterosexual men) as examples of bands that broke up due to romantic conflicts.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Lars keeps insulting the elves, much to Sigrit's horror. All his additions to the show wind up ruining stunts and setting Fire Saga back, while Sigrit's prayers to the elves keep moving them forward. As a favor to Sigrit, they save his life at the end but make sure he knows they are real.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Sigrit is light while Mita is dark.
  • Like Parent, Like Child: Much like him at the beginning, Lars's baby doesn't seem thrilled about Ja Ja Ding Dong. As he's happily singing it, the baby has very cute, confused pouts.
  • Love Epiphany: It's obvious that Sigrit has always been in love with Lars since they were kids. Lars realizes that he's in love with Sigrit when she belts at the "Song-Along," and he can't take his eyes off her for a few minutes.
  • Magic Realism: While the film is otherwise grounded in reality, ghosts and elves are real within its universe, as Katiana appears to Lars as a Spirit Advisor while the elves save him from Karlosson.
  • Making the Choice for You: Fire Saga is chosen to appear at Söngvakeppnin through a blind draw, as it turns out that the contest is one act short.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Had Lars bothered to look around him while he was walking through the airport after abandoning Sigrit at the Eurovision auditorium, he'd have seen multiple televisions broadcasting Iceland's acceptance into the final.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The film opens with a scene featuring Lars and Sigrit as children. Lars, who is grieving his mother, starts dancing along to ABBA. When the adults start laughing, Sigrit dances with him so he won't be alone.
  • Misattributed Song: It's never made entirely clear whether "Jaja Ding Dong" is supposed to be a Fire Saga original or whether they are covering an In-Universe schlager hit. Lars' hatred of the song, and the fact that it doesn't fit particularly well with Fire Saga's overall aesthetic of atmospheric keyboard-driven dance pop, suggests that it's the latter.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Though they are not technically in a romantic relationship, both Lars and Sigrit become upset when they believe that the other has slept with Lemtov (Sigrit) and Mita (Lars).
  • Mistaken for Gay: Lars believes that Simon and Garfunkel were a couple.
  • Modulation: "Lion of Love" has a couple of instances of this.
  • Mood Whiplash: Lars and Sigrit experience it when the yacht carrying all the other Icelandic contestants explodes: at first they're horrified, and then shift between happy (as the last remaining competitors, they're the national representatives by default) and sad (at least 10 people just died tragically).
  • Mundane Object Amazement: The taller the wine glass or champagne flute, the more Sigrit is astonished.
  • Mythology Gag: As to be expected from a Eurovision movie made by an actual Eurovision superfan, there are plenty of examples:
    • "Volcano Man" is undoubtedly similar to Norway's Tel Aviv 2019 sixth-placer, "Spirit in the Sky" by KEiiNO, which was also a dance song with folk elements (i.e., Sami) by a Nordic mixed-gender band.
    • Iceland has previously competed with four male-female duos: Stjornin's "Eitt lag enn" (fourth, Zagreb 1990), August & Telma's "Tell Me!" (twelfth, Stockholm 2000), Euroband's "This is My Life" (fourteenth, Belgrade 2008), and Greta Salóme & Jónsi's "Never Forget" (twentieth, Baku 2012).
    • There have been several sibling teams who've competed at Eurovision, such as Portugal's Salvador Sobral, winner of Kyiv 2017 (whose song "Amar Pelos Dois" was composed by his sister Luisa, with whom he then performed a victory reprise), Ireland's The McCauls (semifinalist, Kyiv 2005), and Iceland's would-have-been act for Rotterdam 2020 and actual act for Rotterdam 2021, Daði & Gagnamagnið, which is partially comprised of frontman Daði Freyr and his sister Sigrún Birna.
    • Alexander Lemtov is a hunky Russian singer in the vein of prior representatives Dima Bilan (runner-up in Athens 2006 and winner of Belgrade 2008) and Sergey Lazarev (third in both Stockholm 2016 and Tel Aviv 2019), while his vocal stylings and theming are comparable to Romania's Cezar (thirteenth, Malmö 2013).
    • Sigrit's singing voice is dubbed by Molly Sandén, who represented Sweden in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2006 and has competed in Melodifestivalen (Sweden's national selection for Eurovision) many times.
    • Belarus's Moon Fang seems heavily inspired by Finland's Lordi, who won Athens 2006 with "Hard Rock Hallelujah".
    • Mita Xenakis is the kind of Ms. Fanservice that Greece often sends in the real competition, most prominently their Kyiv 2005 winner Elena Paparizounote , while her performance is very reminiscent of "Igranka" by Who See of Montenegro (semifinalists, Malmö 2013) with the astronaut theming.
    • Fire Saga's performance of "Double Trouble" prominently features a human-sized hamster wheel like the one seen in "Tick Tock" by Mariya Yaremchuk of Ukraine (sixth, Copenhagen 2014), while the tone of the song and performance itself is similar to "Running Scared" by Azerbaijan's Ell & Nikki, winners of Düsseldorf 2011.
    • The Pitch Perfect-style mash-up in the middle contains two career-defining winning songs: "Waterloo" by ABBA of Sweden (Brighton 1974) and "Ne partez pas sans moi" by Canadian-born Céline Dion for Switzerland (Dublin 1988).
    • 21st Century Viking from the Icelandic national final is a nod to "Higher Ground" by Rasumussen of Denmark (ninth, Lisbon 2018).
    • Katianna's song at the Icelandic national selection show is comparable to many power ballads by young Nordic women from past editions, with three of its closest reference points being Icelands's "Unbroken" by Maria Olafs (semifinalist, Vienna 2015), Denmark's "Where I Am" by Anja Nijssen (twentieth, Kyiv 2017), and Norway's would-have-been entry for Rotterdam 2020, "Attention" by Ulrikke Brandstorp.
  • Narrating the Obvious: "She's singing in Icelandic!". To a room full of Icelandic people. Who are all watching the same performance and have done so for the last minute and a half. And the viewers were just shown that she did so.
  • New Friend Envy: Lars has this, with shades of Crazy Jealous Guy, about Sigrit's fraternization with Lemtov.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • According to Dan Stevens, Alexander Lemtov is based on flamboyant Russian pop singer Filipp Kirkorov, notorious for his sexual ambiguity.
    • Rachel McAdams has said that she prepared for her role as Sigrit by watching hours of interviews with Björk.
      • Some viewers have also pointed out that Sigrit bears a resemblance to the Icelandic singer Selma, who achieved a second-place finish in the Eurovision contest of 1999 (perhaps not coincidentally, this was around the time Will Ferrell's wife introduced him to the event).
  • Non-Specifically Foreign: Averted. As this is a film about Eurovision, the nationality of pretty much every character with a name is made clear.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • Though a large portion of the film takes place in Edinburgh, few if any Scottish accents are heard in the film.
    • During the second conversation between Katiana's ghost and Lars, both Demi Lovato and Will Ferrell mostly speak in their natural American accents.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Lars' reason for abandoning Sigrit in Edinburgh after the disastrous semi-finals is that he thinks Fire Saga will always be a laughingstock.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Lars and Sigrit, shortly after the boat containing the Icelandic contestants explodes right in front of them.
    • Graham Norton, when he sees what's about to happen with Sigrit's scarf and Lars' hamster wheel.
  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: A unique variation with the semifinals incident. Lars is actually inside the rolling hamster wheel instead of in front of it, but bailing out to the side would have had the same effect as the usual version.
  • Orbital Shot: A common feature of the camera-work for Eurovision performances in Real Life, and faithfully recreated here.
  • Parental Bonus: Given "Jaja Ding Dong"'s bouncy rhythm, infectious melody, and folk/schlager instrumentation, it's easy to miss just how dirty the lyrics of the song really are.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Played for laughs at the end of the movie when Erick gets married, to Sigrit's mom.
    Lars: Aww... That's never not going to be weird.
    Sigrit: Super not.
  • Patient Childhood Love Interest: Sigrit clearly has romantic feelings for Lars. While these aren't exactly unrequited, Lars is far too focused on Fire Saga to think too much about it, to Sigrit's distress.
  • Product Placement: The film itself is technically one, as it's an officially licensed Eurovision film rather than a movie featuring a competition like Eurovision. It's also worth noting that Netflix later acquired the American streaming rights of the 2019 and 2020note  editions after announcing they were distributing the film, likely so that Americans could watch the real thing after the movie. Altogether the film and 2019 editions co-exist on Netflix to promote one another.
  • Protagonist Title: "Fire Saga" in the title refers to the duo comprised of Lars and Sigrit, the film's protagonists.
  • Race for Your Love: Played for laughs at the end, when Lars in his 10-Minute Retirement chooses to take up fish trawling with his father, until he convinces the former to return to Sigrit. When they're on a fishing boat. Lars ends up leaping off the boat and swimming to shore... somehow.
  • Real After All: Elves do exist, and kill Victor after he tries to garrotte Lars!
  • Rearrange the Song: Lars gets a K-pop musician named Jae-Bong to do a remix of "Double Trouble." The results are...interesting.
  • Rip Tailoring: Sigrit does this to a particularly unwieldy costume made by Lars. This leads to the costume showing off a lot more than was intended.
  • Running Gag:
    • Somebody approaches Sigrit with two drinks; she believes they're both for her and downs them rapidly.
    • Olaf constantly wants to hear "Jaja Ding Dong."
    • People mistakenly assume that Lars and Sigrit are siblings; Lars responds that they probably aren't, while Sigrit is significantly more emphatic in her denial.
    • Lars and Sigrit's rather strange way of greeting one another:
      Lars: I see you...
      Sigrit: There you are...
      Lars: Here I am...
      Sigrit: I'm checking you out...
      Lars: I'm checking you out...
  • Same Surname Means Related: Patronymic variation. Sigrit and Lars frequently have to explain that they're not siblings. The fact that their surnames are Ericksson(g) and Ericksdottir doesn't particularly help. At the end of the film it's revealed that they are definitely not siblings. Apparently their fathers were just both named Erick.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Lars tries to insult some American tourists by telling them to go back to Starbucks; at least one of them thinks he's genuinely trying to tell them where to find a Starbucks, and the others don't seem sure either way.
  • Scenery Porn: The mountainous landscapes of Iceland and Edinburgh's medieval old town are both featured prominently.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Even if it means an automatic disqualification for not performing the official submission, Lars makes sure to change their finale performance to the song Sigrit had written. And indeed it's an amazing performance.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: As mentioned above, despite knowing they will get disqualified for changing their song so late, Fire Saga's performance at the finals is still met with incredible reception, with Lars lampshading beforehand in his speech that the best song isn't always the winning song.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • There's more than one joke about bloc voting, and it's suggested that Lemtov may have called in a Russian favour to get the Eastern Bloc to vote for Iceland in the semi-final so that they go through.
    • There's no hiding that the world feel Americans would ruin Eurovision in the film, nor how the Americans don't seem to understand any of this. It was made by American super-fans.
  • Series Continuity Error: Lars and Sigrit appear to be somewhere around their mid-thirties, judging by the ages of their parents and the fact that they are able to have a baby at the end of the film. However, they are also shown watching ABBA on TV in 1974 as children, which would imply that they are over 45. Further confusing the issue is the fact that the characters seem to be around the same age, but Will Ferrell looks the eleven years older than Rachel McAdams that he is.
  • The Show Must Go On: After the debacle at their semi-finals performance, Sigrit and Lars realize the music is still playing and get up to finish the song.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Lars and Sigrit are revealed to only have eyes for each other.
  • Snap Back: At the end of the film, Lars and Sigrit are back in the small pub in their hometown playing "Jaja Ding Dong" for the locals, although this time Lars is much less irritated about it and they have had a baby together.
  • So Proud of You: Erick has this look when he sees his son's act going smoothly and getting cheers from the audience. The thing that ultimately wins his pride, however, is that despite the performance going wrong, his son and Sigrit got back up and finished their number.
  • Song of Many Emotions: "Húsavík" relates to both Sigrit's love for Lars and her love for her home.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Victor killed all of Iceland's viable entries because he didn't want Iceland to have to pay to host the next contest. He didn't expect Fire Saga to be so endearing and make it to the finals.
  • Stuck in Their Shadow: In-universe, Sigrit is a valued member of Fire Saga, but the band is mainly Lars' project—he designs all of the costumes and writes the songs. However, at the end of the film, it is Sigrit's "Husavik" which wins over the Eurovision audience.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Sigrit tearing off the bits of her overly garish dress turns it into something way more unsightly than it usually gets, with the obvious tears all around. You can blame Jamie Lee Curtis for this one.
    • Eurovision contestants can't change their song submissions at the last minute. So, although Fire Saga wowed the crowd in the finals, they're disqualified immediately. However, at that point, winning was no longer Lars' goal anyway.
    • Lemtov seems amused that Lars sees Eurovision as Serious Business and acts as though all of the other musicians are rivals. He happily invites Fire Saga to his party and shows off the competition, explaining each musician's odds; as he puts it, you perform better when you aren't expecting to win, and Eurovision is more a way to boost your career and find opportunities to improve your image.
    • Averted for Karlosson's death. In reality, Lars would likely have been arrested under suspicion for his murder, as his fingerprints were on both the body and the murder weapon. However, it seems that In-Universe, nobody cares, despite the fact that Karlosson is presented as having been one of the most powerful and influential men in Iceland.
  • Teeny Weenie: Lars has one.
    Lars: I would kind of describe my penis like a Volvo automobile. Solid, sturdy, dependable, but not going to turn any heads.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Against all odds, Fire Saga makes it into the Eurovision finals. It's unsure if other countries were impressed by the way they continued their performance after nearly being killed, or if Lemtov helped them out with his connections to other Eastern Bloc countries.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Lars, when he accuses Sigrit of being selfish for begging him to remain in Edinburgh rather than going back to Iceland after Fire Saga's disaster in the semi-finals. Particularly since Sigrit has never been anything but supportive of his often outlandish, unreasonable ambitions.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: At the beginning of the film, Sigrit's mother maintains that Lars is this to Sigrit. She says that Sigrit could do much better.
  • Transparent Closet: Sigrit figures out that Alexander is gay. Between his flamboyant stage persona, his nude statues, and his hunky male backup dancers, he isn't exactly hiding it very well.
  • Truth in Television:
    • The Icelandics' faith in elves might seem silly to those outside Iceland, and especially to the Americans watching this without much knowledge of Nordic culture, but it's very much a real phenomenon there, with as much as over half of their population believing they exist according to one 1998 poll.note 
    • Certain countries not wanting to win and be stuck hosting Eurovision is a real thing because the cost and logistics are too high a price to pay for a briefly raised profile and tourism boost. This film isn't even the first to make that joke: Father Ted's Eurovision episode "A Song for Europe" concerned Ireland wanting to throw the competition by sending a terrible act so that they wouldn't have to host it again. (Though that episode did seem more about Ireland just being sick of it, as in Real Life they have won and hosted the most times).
    • The theatrics of Eurovision itself might seem outlandish to those who aren't familiar, but as seen in some of the examples listed under Mythology Gag above, many elements in the film are directly lifted from real Eurovision history.
  • "Ugly American" Stereotype: Played with. Lars, an Icelandic man, meets some teenaged American tourists in Scotland and proceeds to mock and insult them for their supposed rudeness and stupidity. The Americans are portrayed as a little air-headed, but still decent people, making it clear that Lars is in the wrong. Of course, this is especially ironic because Lars is played by the American Will Ferrell.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Alexander and Mita are technically antagonists who want Sigrit and Lars, respectively, for themselves, but neither one of them does anything particularly evil to achieve these ends. Alexander repeatedly tries to convince Lars and Sigrit that Sigrit would be better off with him (Alexander), and Mita tries to coerce Lars into sex, but neither one does anything more active than that. They also both turn out to be Graceful Losers at the end when they realize that Lars and Sigrit are inseparable.
  • Vocal Dissonance: "Twenty-First Century Viking," one of the contestants at the Icelandic singing competition, is a burly, bearded man who sings in a soft falsetto.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Lars and Sigrit sing most of their songs together, although Sigrit is a significantly better vocalist.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Sigrit gets one after partying during Fire Saga's first night in Edinburgh.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Alexander Lemtov basically never wears a shirt throughout the entire time, often seen in jackets or vests with no actual shirt underneath.
  • We Can Rule Together: Lemtov argues that he and Sigrit should join forces because they are both attractive and talented.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Lars is downtrodden by his father's lack of respect for him.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: It's never actually stated who wins Eurovision after Fire Saga is disqualified.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Lemtov is established as wanting to have Sigrit as his musical foil and beard, arguing that this can boost both of their careers. Then he sees her crying after the semi-finals, and realizes that Lars has walked out on her. Lemtov... comforts her and doesn't bring up his offer. It's also implied he pulled some strings to make sure Fire Saga got into the finals, since Sigrit would be more vulnerable if she had to go home in disgrace.


Video Example(s):


Lars Insults the Americans

Played with. Lars, an Icelandic man, meets some teenage American tourists in Scotland and proceeds to mock and insult them for their supposed rudeness and stupidity. The Americans are portrayed as a little air-headed, but still decent people, making it clear that Lars is in the wrong. Of course, this is especially ironic because Lars is played by the American Will Ferrell.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / UglyAmericanStereotype

Media sources: