FlixChatter Review – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

I heard about the new Netflix movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga much sooner than most casual Netflix streamers and American audiences. The reason for this was my loyal following of the Eurovision Song Contest, or just “Eurovision” – a contest that started in Europe in the mid 1950’s, around the time of the formation of the European Broadcasting Union. It is the European Broadcasting Union that puts on the yearly contest, starting with just seven countries in 1956 and expanding each year to a maximum of 44 countries participating at once. I had first heard of Eurovision back in 1998, when Dana International, a transgender singer from Israel won the contest with the song “Diva.” Since she won the contest, Israel won the rights to host the contest the following year in 1999. That summer, I was on a summer trip to Israel and all I heard about was that spring’s 44th annual Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Jerusalem.

Fast forward 20 years, the year is 2018 and the Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Lisbon Portugal. This year even my birth country of Bulgaria is taking part in the contest, even though the favorite to win the contest is a performer named Netta from Israel with her me-too-movement themed song call “Toy.” It was a hard fought contest with a singer from Cyprus, but Netta ended up winning the contest and bringing back the Eurovision Song Contest to take place in Israel the following year. So as events moved along in 2019, I had heard that Will Ferrell – yes that Will Ferrell from SNL and countless movies – was going to Israel to shoot a comedic movie about the entering the Eurovision Song Contest. That movie would later be titled Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga and it would star Ferrell as Lars Erickssong and co-star Rachel McAdams as his best friend Sigrit Ericksdottir, making music together as the band Fire Saga.

The two best friends live in the small Islandic town of Húsavík, and perform for the locals in the town their music, especially a local favorite called “Jaja Ding Dong” which is great to sing, dance and drink beer to. But Lars’ dream has always been to represent Iceland in Eurovision, and it finally becomes a reality when they become the only contestants available, due to some unfortunate circumstances. The Islanding broadcasting committee has no choice but to send Lars and Sigrit to the contest, taking place in Ireland. *While we know, from earlier, that Ferrell and Rachel McAdams shot scenes with the live audience in Israel at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, director David Dobkin and producers Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum, and Chris Henchy decided to switch the location of Eurovision to Edinburgh, Scotland. When the duo arrive in Edinburgh, they are greeted by other contestants, including Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens), a flamboyant singer representing Russia. At one point, Lars and Sigrit have a great sing-a-long at a mansion party with other seemingly current Eurovision singers. Those singers are in-fact some previous real life Eurovision Song Contest contestants and winners such as Jamala, Conchita Wurst, Salvador Sobral and Netta.

Watching from home is Lars Erickssong’s widowed father Erick Erickssong (Pierce Brosnan), who is always disapproving and disappointed with Lars. When others at the bar want to watch Lars and Sigrit perform at Eurovision, all Erick wants to do is drink and watch soccer. But when Lars and Sigrit seem to be having a decent performance, all hell breaks loose and the wheels start to come off the truck, quite literally. Lars starts feeling quite embarrassed and humiliated and storms out, leaving a distraught Sigrit behind. Before Lars could be found, Sigrit learns to her shock, however, that Iceland is voted through to the finals on a sympathy vote. Lars is long gone; already back on the plane to Iceland.

Once back in Iceland, Lars talks with his father and confesses his love for Sigrit, and Erick tells him to go back and fight for her love. SPOILER [highlight to read]: Lars makes it to the grand finale just in time to perform, after hitchhiking with some initially unwilling American tourists. Instead of their official entry, Lars encourages Sigrit to perform a song she has written for him. Fire Saga are disqualified for changing their song during the contest, but both Lars and Sigrit have lost interest in winning the competition, realizing that their relationship is more important and they finally share a kiss.

Back in Iceland, Fire Saga is performing at a wedding when Lars ask if they should perform their Eurovision song or the popular “Jaja Ding Dong” to which the crowd chants “Jaja Ding Dong, Jaja Ding Dong, Jaja Ding Dong!” While the movie is not groundbreaking or visually unique, it does provide plenty of laugh-out-loud and sing-along moments with the cast. It did provide me personally with nostalgia from watching the actual Eurovision Song Contest, which got cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was a great movie for Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams to star in and play off each other in the musical performances. Also, it was fun to see Pierce Brosnan act in a comedy and play opposite Ferrell. But most definitely, it’s Dan Stevens who steals the show as Alexander Lemtov, who cannot express his sexuality and fears the fact that his country does not accept homosexuality. Stevens plays the role almost to perfection and become much more vulnerable than in any previous role he has played.

While Netflix is probably not going to see very many new subscriptions solely from the movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, they will leave their audience satisfied (for at least that night). I was pleasantly surprised at the way the movie pulled at the heartstrings and made you feel compassion and sympathy for Ferrell’s character Lars. It’s probably the only time I’ve had those feeling when watching a Will Ferrell movie. So, next time you’re sitting at your couch, I would suggest everyone check this movie out when scrolling through the seemingly endless list of titles, and catch this flick on Netflix.

– Review by Vitali Gueron


Have you seen Eurovision Song Contest? Well, what did you think? 

Trailers Spotlight: TENET and DOWNHILL

Happy Friday, folks! I was going to post TENET trailer last night when it first arrived, but didn’t get a chance to do so. Then his morning, I received a trailer news release of a movie I didn’t even know was being made, DOWNHILL. Well, as I always like to mix the tone/genre/style when posting trailers, these two are perfect to highlight.

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An action epic revolving around international espionage, time travel, and evolution.

Every single trailer of Christopher Nolan‘s movies always had me salivating and wish I could see it as soon as possible. Well, the same with TENET, which plot is still shrouded in mystery, but based on the deliberately-vague IMDb description and poster, it has an INCEPTION vibe all over it. I’m already sold when they said it’ll be a a time travel spy movie!!

I LOVE seeing John David Washington in the lead role, who was excellent in BlacKkKlansman. He sure has the screen presence like his thespian father Denzel, not to mention an enigmatic charisma. The movie itself teases something ominous, as Washington’s character and Clémence Poésy‘s talking about preventing world war III and dealing with something worse than a nuclear holocaust.

One thing is clear that there’ll be time traveling involved… it shows Washington’s character dying then coming back to life. When Martin Donovan‘s character said ‘welcome to the afterlife’ it literally gave me the chills!

As for the cast, I’m becoming more and more interested in seeing Robert Pattinson on screen, and though he doesn’t speak in the trailer, I think his role is an important one. Then of course there’s the Nolan’s regular, Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh. Aaron Taylor-Johnson gets top billing on IMDb for some reason, not sure what role he’ll play. Also nice to see Elizabeth Debicki and Himesh Patel among the ensemble cast.

Updated: Here’s the final trailer

Everything about this trailer looks mysterious and thrilling. Ludwig Göransson‘s score sounds terrific too, but then again most of Nolan’s  films have such fantastic soundtrack. Billed as Nolan’s most ambitious movie yet (boy that’s saying a lot!) comes with a reported budget of more than $220 million. It’s shot and will be released in the IMAX format, but unfortunately, we’ve got such a long wait as the movie isn’t released until July 17, 2020.


Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell star in this biting comedy.

I’m sold on the two leading cast for this one, which is based on the Swedish film Force Majeure. I hadn’t got a chance to see that acclaimed film, which also took place in the French Alps. I haven’t seen Julia Louis-Dreyfus in any movie before, but the pairing with Will Ferrell as husband and wife sounds like a genius idea!

Comedic writing duo Nat Faxon and Jim Rash won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants, a familial comedy during a vacation that deals with a rather difficult subject. Their co-writer Jesse Armstrong, is a British writer who did In the Loop and creator of the HBO show Succession. So plenty of acclaimed talents behind this one. This black comedy is released just in time for Valentine’s Day next year for those who prefer something darker than a rom-com.


What do you think of these trailers? 

FlixChatter Review: The LEGO Movie

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We’ve seen a plethora of movie tie-in with the LEGO company for a long time. From the Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, there’s pretty much a LEGO version of pretty much any franchise. So it’s really a matter of time that these colorful interlocking plastic bricks have a movie of their own, I’m quite surprised it took six decades since its inception in the late 1940s.

Who says that February is only for duds? This is one of the most fun experience I had in the movies in a long time, it’s every bit as cute and hilarious as the trailers and featurettes promised us. I’ve heard the term geekstravaganza being used in one of the reviews and that’s the perfect way to describe it. But as fun as those pop-culture characters are, the movie wouldn’t have worked without a protagonist worth rooting for. Seems that I’ve been seeing Chris Pratt quite a lot lately, he had a brief appearance in Her and also as a NAVY Seals in Zero Dark Thirty a few years back. He is perfectly-cast as Emmet, an ordinary construction worker with a happy-go-lucky attitude and contagious hyper-optimistism. In a world where coffee cost $37 a cup, Emmet still thinks life is well, awesome! 😀

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The opening sequence showing him living his day-to-day life is a hoot, the simple shape of each LEGO piece comes to live in this colorful LEGO universe. The LEGO universe is ruled by President (Lord) Business (Will Ferrell), a maniacal tyrant [is there any other kind?] bent on world domination, it’s a totalitarian existence we’ve seen in many dystopian futuristic films.

A lot of the ideas in this movie’s premise is not groundbreaking, but yet the style in which its presented makes even the most clichéd concept still watchable and entertaining. Borrowing from The Matrix and countless other sci-fis, Emmet is thought of as *the one*, that is the extraordinary MasterBuilder whom the resistant group thinks would lead them to the Piece of Resistance that’d what else, save the LEGO citizens from impending doom. The member of the resistant group is led by fun characters like the Yoda/Gandalf-like Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), the beautiful fighter Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), 80s astronaut Benny (Charlie Day) and Wyldstyle’s boyfriend, Batman (Will Arnett). All of them are hilarious though the most inspired casting of all is Liam Neeson as Good Cop/Bad Cop who’s quite the scene stealer.

I have to admit that halfway through the 100-min running time the action are happening way too fast that it’s borderline ADD. Fortunately the jokes just keep on coming. In the midst of their adventure, Emmet, Wyldstyle & co. encountered a pirate called Metalbeard who’s bent on revenge against Lord Business for taking his body parts, voiced by the always-awesome Nick Offerman. Other pop-culture characters showing up in this one big intergalactic-like conference, which offers plenty of nostalgia to our childhood for everyone born before the 80s. But the focus of the story is always on Emmet, who’s the heart of the film. The ending offers a surprising twist that connects the LEGO universe with our human world, which represents what the LEGO toy is to kids in their creativity process. I think this part is handled quite nicely, though it feels a bit schmaltzy at times but it’s not without its charm. It’d definitely inspire both parents and kids in the audience, but the message of the power of imagination is relatable to anyone of all ages.

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Props to Phil Lord & Christopher Miller and the team of animators for creating such a joyfully entertaining movie that also has plenty of heart to balance the action-packed scenes. I’m still humming the theme song Everything is Awesome, I’d dare not to let this song lift up even your grumpiest mood. Combined with the playful stop-motion animation and hilarious expressions of every single LEGO characters, it’s perhaps the cheeriest sequence you’d see all year. The attention to detail is amazing and hugely entertaining. For a shape so simple, somehow the facial expressions are pretty darn good. Oh and even something as mundane as taking a shower is so adorable when done in LEGO! The water *droplet* and the soap *bubble* are so darn cute!!

It’s no surprise that the box office take blew even the industry estimates by nearly 30% with $69 mil take. This now stands as my favorite Warner Bros. animated features since The Iron Giant. I highly recommend seeing this one on the big screen if you want a mood-lifting movie. The 3D is good though I think seeing it in 2D is perfectly acceptable as well. I’m being pretty generous here on my rating, but it really is hugely entertaining movie I don’t mind watching again.

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Thoughts on The LEGO Movie? I’d love to hear it!

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: The LEGO® Movie Fun Featurettes

Oh who doesn’t love LEGO®. The colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears are perhaps one of the most universally-loved toys in the world. I actually saw a documentary of LEGO on the inception of that company in Billund, Denmark in 1949. I doubt inventor Ole Kirk Christiansen would ever imagine that his creation would be a worldwide phenomenon!

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I’m surprised it took 65 years to finally have the first full-length theatrical LEGO adventure. But the advanced animation technology with 3D rendering allows this toys to REALLY come alive on screen.

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street) the original 3D computer-animated story follows Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as The Special, the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously under-prepared.

It’s tough not to be perked up by its buoyant spirits. The voice cast is simply stellar!

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Will Ferrell is the voice of President Business, aka Lord Business, an uptight CEO who has a hard time balancing world domination with micro-managing his own life, and Liam Neeson is the voice of Lord Business’s loyal henchman, Bad Cop/Good Cop, who will stop at nothing to catch Emmet. Then there are Morgan Freeman as the ancient mystic Vitruvius; Elizabeth Banks as tough-as-nails Wyldstyle, who mistakes Emmet for the savior of the world and guides him on his quest; Elizabeth Banksas the mysterious Batman, a LEGO minifigure with whom Wyldstyle shares a history; Nick Offerman as the craggy, swaggering pirate Metal Beard, obsessed with revenge on Lord Business; Alison Brie as the sweet and loveable Unikitty and Charlie Day as Benny, the 1980-something Spaceman.

Check out the featurette on how they created the lego movie.


I love the main song Everything is Awesome! Can’t help humming it as it actually makes me feel happy, ahah. LOVE this cute Behind the Bricks featurette, with each LEGO character talking about the actors *playing* them, ahah. What a fun universe to be transported to.


I saw the movie last Saturday and had a blast. I’d have to agree with the critics on this one, so far it’s garnered 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes! The theme of *master builder* fits what the LEGO product is all about, and the sense of adventure will definitely please kids and the kids in all of us. It’s really a joyful film that also has a good message in the end about spurring creativity on kids and for parents to build them up instead of restricting them. I think the studio is confident this movie will do well that there’s already a sequel in the works.


What do you think folks? Are you going to see the LEGO movie?

FlixChatter Review: Anchorman 2 – The Legend Continues

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It took almost ten years for Ron Burgundy and his gang to come back to the big screen. Reportedly Paramount was nervous about green lighting this sequel even though the first one was a modest hit, but it didn’t earn enough to warrant a sequel. Well, after many years of stuck in production limbo, Burgundy and his gang of newsmen are back!

The action picks up a few years after the events of the previous film, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his now wife Veronica (Christina Applegate) are living in NYC and working together as co-news anchors at a big news station in the city. One day both of them had a meeting with their boss, a well-known actor played this role and I won’t spoil it for you as to who it was but if you look it up on IMDB, you’ll know the actor. The boss decided to promote Veronica to be an anchor on the prime time slot and fired Burgundy. He also told Burgundy that he’s one of the worst anchorman he’d ever seen. After the meeting, Ron and Veronica got in a fight, he didn’t want her to accept the new position and gave her an ultimatum, it’s him or the job. Well fast forward a few months later, Ron is now back in San Diego working as a spoke person at some water park. He’s broke, lonely and pretty much have no desire to go on living. After a failed suicide, a new producer showed up and offered him a new job. He told Ron that he’s starting a 24 hours news station and that he wants Ron to be his main news anchor. Ron wasn’t sold on this 24 hours news idea but he’s broke and needed the money. He accepted the job and decided to get his old gang back together. The whole movie was about the adventures of Ron and his gang in the big city and all the silly stuff that you’d expect to see in this kind of movie.

Ferrell had no problem jumping back and play his alter ego Burgundy, in fact I thought he’s better in this film than the first. There were some laugh-out-loud moments, more so than in the first one I thought. I really enjoy the jab at the ridiculousness of cable news channels in our world today, especially one particular network (cough FOX News cough), even Burgundy’s boss is an Australian. The rest of the cast members did a fine job, although I thought there were too many scenes of Brick (Steve Carell) that weren’t funny but I since Carell is a bigger star now, he probably demanded more screen time. The film has a lot more cameos than the first, at the climax scene, there were who’s who of famous faces that showed up, again I won’t spoil it for you.

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There were a few things that didn’t work for me. First, a love story subplot involving Brick and another simpleton who works at the station, Chani (Kristen Wiig), just felt force and went on a bit too long and just wasn’t that funny. Then there’s another plotline in the middle of the film that was never fully developed and they just sort of wrapped it up towards the end of the movie. The antagonist of the film, another famous anchorman Jack Lime (James Marsden), was made out to be Ron’s main competitor but sort of fade into the background in the rest of the film. Lastly, the film could’ve been trimmed by at least 20 minutes or more, a 2 hours run-time for a comedy is way too long.

Overall though I thought this new adventure of Ron Burgundy was a lot of fun and fans of the original will enjoy it as well. I think I laughed more in this film than the first one and I have to confess, I thought the first one wasn’t that funny when I saw it in theater. But after watching it many times on DVD, I became a fan. Well for this one, I became a fan instantly so I guess it’s better than the first one. This one comes highly recommended and if you’re in the mood for a good comedy, you can’t go wrong with this one.

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4 out of 5 reels


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What do you think of Anchorman 2? Was it a big deal for you?

FlixChatter Review: The Other Guys

It’s a super hot Saturday afternoon and all I wanted to do was cool off in a movie theater and watch a Summer popcorn flick! I saw the trailer when I posted it on the Mark Wahlberg’s spotlight post and I found it pretty funny. Well, I’m happy to report that the movie lived up to it and its surprisingly fresh rating on rotten tomatoes.

The Other Guys as it’s aptly called, is a reluctant buddy cop comedy of two guys who can’t be more different from each other. For as long as these two have been on the force, detectives Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) have always worshiped the best and most famous cops, known for their relentless ways to capture the bad guys, even if it cost the city $12 million in property damage involving a misdemeanor drug offense. The bad ass cops, played with glee by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson set up the hilarious opening sequence, full-throttle action and packed with ridiculous, logic-defying action sequences that’s fun to watch. But when their enormous ego and lack of common sense got the best of them, Hoitz got antsy to jump at the chance to fill the giant shoes that the two ‘city heroes’ left. That is when he’s able to persuade the happy-go-lucky, content-to-work-the-desk-job partner to join him. Wahlberg’s character was once a rising star whose colossal blunder he once made at the World Series for which made him the laughing stock of the whole precinct (and the entire city) and chained him to his desk job.

I’m not exactly a Will Ferrell fan, so I had no idea writer/director Adam McKay had worked with him several times previously: Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers. I can’t say if this is their best collaboration yet as I haven’t seen all of them, but I’d think it’s right up there. Ferrell is best when he’s playing it straight, such as in Stranger than Fiction, which I adore and wish he does more roles like this. Here, his deadpan delivery and mild-mannered persona was perfect and perfectly funny! He offered such a contrast to the macho, short-tempered Wahlberg that their loud banter delivered the biggest laughs. It’s amazing how the two could keep a straight face during the lion and tuna repartee, I wonder how many takes that took but it was destined to be a classic!

I’ve always liked Wahlberg even if his movies are hit and miss. He is hilarious here whilst still manage to deliver what we expect a Mark Wahlberg movie, plenty of bombastic action! He isn’t a natural comedian, but the script brings the best of his comic timing. That ballet dancing scene is a hoot, as well as when he was blatantly ogling Ferrell’s buxom wife Eva Mendes. The supporting performances aren’t bad, either. The always watchable Michael Keaton was terrific as the NYPD Captain, as did Steve Coogan adding his bursts of British sarcasm as the remorseless Bernie Madoff-like tycoon. Mendes’ chest did most of the acting again here, but that was really all that was requested of her.

I laughed from start to finish, and though I came in with pretty high expectation, I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed it! If I could nitpick however, the scenes between Ferrell and Eva where she sent her mother to talk to him was drawn out far too long. It’s just exasperating and pointless. I think the Eva scenes were funniest whenever Wahlberg’s around drooling over her. The timely plot involving Ponzi-scheme corporate corruption is a serious one, as the end credits made it out to be, but served with tongue firmly in cheek.

As this movie de-throned Inception from box office top spot this week, I’m sure I’m not the only one who saw this. Well, what did you think?