But fate is about to intervene – or maybe it’s the elusive Icelandic elves for whom Sigrit conscientiously places offerings of food and alcohol. Whatever the case, a drastic turn of events leaves Lars and Sigrit the only musicians eligible to represent Iceland at Eurovision in Edinburgh.
The global spotlight beckons, as does a chance to poke fun at Eurovision in all its outre dagginess.
On that score, though, Ferrell and long-time Saturday Night Live writer Andrew Steele take a deliberately gentle approach. Ferrell, you see, is a genuine Eurovision fan – he became mad for it 20 years ago after watching the competition on holiday in Sweden with his Swedish wife, Viveca Paulin, and her family.
Accordingly, this movie is much more celebration than send-up – Eurovision fans will relish one particular musical set-piece involving a bunch of real-life Eurovision legends, and there are at least half-a-dozen other cameos sprinkled throughout. But it’s the fictional singers that Sigrit and Lars have to look out for. One is fellow Icelander Katiana (Demi Lovato), who becomes a friend of a strange sort. Another is Russian Alexander (Dan Stevens), whose performances are wildly homoerotic and who wants to poach Sigrit as a beard.
The heart of the movie, though, is the relationship between Lars and Sigrit. With Lars being a real jerk at times, Ferrell could scarcely have done better than McAdams in finding someone who emanates the kind of loyalty that Lars could only have won in childhood. McAdams, for her part, could scarcely have done better than whoever it was supplying her with gorgeously rustic knitwear and hairstyles all the way through. Good, lightweight fun.
The Vast of Night
Amazon Prime Video
A very different, very intimate microbudget sci-fi indie set on a single night in a little town in New Mexico in the 1950s.
Cocky local radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) and nerdy switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) are unlikely friends but there’s a platonic tenderness to their relationship, and their choice of occupations is about to prove fateful. Writer-director Andrew Patterson and cinematographer M.I. Littin-Menz are at times breathtakingly mobile as their camera navigates a tiny world frozen in nicotine amber.
Ooh! It’s that handsome Adrian Dunbar from Line of Duty (Stan, Netflix, Acorn TV). Here he’s playing a GP named Jim, who’s a big figure in his small Irish town. When Jim’s ailing wife dies, everyone accepts that her death was an accident – except for Jim’s daughter, Cat (Carolina Main), who has seen a side of him that her siblings haven’t. This gripping series wastes no time in ratcheting up the tension, and the intriguing characters and back story make it feel like surprises could spring from any quarter.
A disturbing documentary following two suppliers in Australia’s huge black market for medicinal cannabis oils. The film shows how red tape has greatly restricted access to the products for their intended legal uses, and how altruistic suppliers Nicholas Morley and CBD Luke are working to fill a huge gap that doesn’t exist in other countries. More worryingly, we see them prescribing cannabis as treatment for various kinds of cancers, not just relief of symptoms and side effects of scientifically proven treatments. A messy situation.
The Other Two
Life’s pretty cool when you’re Chase Dubek (Case Walker), a 13-year-old viral video star taking off on a rocket ride to Justin Bieber-level fame and fortune. It’s less cool when you’re Chase’s unsuccessful older siblings, Brooke and Cary (Helene Yorke and Drew Tarver).
Brooke is a dancer turned homeless estate agent who sleeps in the apartments she’s supposed to be selling, while Cary is an aspiring actor waiting tables and auditioning for such coveted roles as Guy at Party Who Smells Fart. Having an ebulliently mad mum played by the ever-delightful Molly Shannon doesn’t make things a whole lot easier.
The writing and performances are scalpel-sharp, the American showbiz satire is spot-on and there’s no predicting the surreal little turns that events take. There’s a perfect balance of everything, too, from the broad strokes of Ken Marino to the comic pathos of Richard Kind and the no-nonsense fearsomeness of Wanda Sykes. It all adds up to the next whip-smart hidden gem that you can make your friends thank you for turning them on to.
It’s Broadway al fresco as this exuberant animated comedy set in New York’s Central Park busts out big musical numbers for the most mundane goings-on. Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard and Broadway star Josh Gad bring us a David-and-Goliath tale of a plucky park caretaker and his family pitted against a super-rich developer who wants to buy the park.
A cast boasting the likes of Gad, Kristen Bell, Leslie Odom jnr and Stanley Tucci illuminates everything from old-school roller-skating culture to city council maintenance committees.
*Stan is owned by Nine, the owner of this masthead.