The happiness of doing karaoke has absolutely nothing to do with looking cool or always even hitting the ideal notes– it has to do with leaving inhibitions behind and offering your all to the minute. Simplified as it may sound, it’s almost having fun. That sense of pure, unironic joy is what makes Netflix’s brand-new musical comedy Eurovision Tune Contest: The Story of Fire Legend truly sing. Director David Dobkin does not land every single beat, but he use that well of carefree exultation so potently that the movie’s stumbles barely register.
In the first moments of the movie, a young kid is mesmerized by ABBA’s efficiency of “Waterloo” in the real-life 1974 Eurovision contest. (The occasion, which has been going on since 1956, calls for European countries to submit musical acts to complete.) There’s no irony to his adoration of the group’s poppy song or glittery outfits; when the grownups around him make fun of his enthusiasm, he chews out them to cut it out. One day, he states, he’ll be the one carrying out on the Eurovision stage.
Their band, Fire Saga, only ever carries out in Erick’s garage and in the regional club, but an opportunity series of events gives them a shot at Eurovision popularity and fortune.
The songs– Fire Saga’s, and every other competitor’s– are legitimately appealing, which is stunning for any motion picture that isn’t a stringent musical, but less so offered that they’re composed by the likes of Savan Kotecha (Katy Perry’s “Increase,” much of Ariana Grande’s Sweetener) and Andreas Carlsson (the Backstreet Boys’ “I Desired It That Way” and NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”). The music hasn’t been half-assed; like whatever else in the movie, the tunes have been crafted with love.
The emphasize, however, is Dan Stevens’ performance as Alexander Lemtov, a Russian singer likewise competing in Eurovision. Lemtov is as theatrical as they come– his tune, “Lion Of Love,” includes a lot of suggestive movement and shirt-ripping– and Stevens leans totally into the preening, wiggling his eyebrows and winking like some kind of flirting device.
To that end, Eurovision remembers movies like Mamma Mia! and The Best Showman, which can not be taken pleasure in while clinging to any vestige of paradox. There’s no such thing as a guilty enjoyment, as far as these motion pictures are concerned; there’s only pleasure. It’s a point best made by a “song-along” halfway through the movie, in which Lars and Sigrit wind up at an enormous houseparty along with past, real-life Eurovision entrants like Conchita Wurst, John Lundvik, Bilal Hassani, and Netta. The vocalists harmonize as they blend songs together in the type of mash-up (” Believe,” “Waterloo,” “Ray of Light,” “I Got ta Feeling,” “Ne Partez pas Sans Moi”) that Glee might only dream of. They’re all cheesy, glittery tunes, however there’s no pooh-poohing them for the sake of more “serious” art, here. Rather, the minute is victorious. ( Eurovision rattles on a bit more than Mamma Mia!, but Dobkin fortunately takes it less seriously than director Michael Gracey took The Greatest Showman)
There are certainly moments where Eurovision drags, however as a de facto replacement for this year’s pandemic-cancelled contest, it’s more than suitable. The film welcomes that unfaltering earnestness, and the result is an endearingly ridiculous but never cynical funny with songs as unforgettable as anything that’s been carried out in the real-life contest.
Eurovision Tune Contest: The Story of Fire Legend is streaming on Netflix now.
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