Cuban Fury

Posted: February 22, 2014 in Film reviews

Directed by James Griffiths. Starring Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, Olivia Colman.

As a child Bruce Garrett (Frost) was a top Salsa dancer, winning numerous trophies in a partnership with his sister (Colman). Unfortunately on his way to the national championships he ran afoul of a gang of boys who took exception to his silk shirts and sequins and beat him up. In the aftermath of the attack he lost his passion and hung up his dancing shoes.

Fast forward a few decades and Bruce is now working for an engineering company and living a fairly humdrum life, until the new boss at his firm turns out to be a beautiful American woman named Julia who just happens to be into Salsa. Smitten, Bruce finds his passion reawakened, and he seeks out his old Salsa coach (Ian McShane) to get him into Salsa shape so he can impress Julia. But can he dance his way into her heart before work colleague Drew (O’Dowd) does?

Cuban Fury is perfectly serviceable, plucky Brit underdog rom-com, the kind of film that you’re likely to see several of a year, but when I say perfectly serviceable this isn’t to disrespect Cuban Fury. It does what it says on the tin and does it well, and frankly it’s the kind of film it’s all too easy to screw up, just take a look at Run Fat Boy Run starring Frost’s mate Simon Pegg as one example.

Good casting always helps, and here a wealth of British talent is on display. It helps greatly that Nick Frost is such a likeable screen presence, and it’s nice to see him playing the romantic lead. Colman is always good value, and excels in a fairly slim role as his supportive sister. O’Dowd, much like Colman, probably couldn’t turn in a bad performance if he tried, and he’s great as the love rival you WILL love to hate. Throw in Ian Mcshane who curiously makes for a quite believably grouchy old Salsa mentor, and Jones who does well with a fairly generic role. You have to admire any film where they can get someone of the calibre of Rory Kinnear to play the scruffy best friend as well. The show is almost well and truly stolen by Kayvan Novak as Bruce’s camp Salsa buddy Bejan.

There’s also a very quick, but very funny cameo. You might be able to guess who it is!

It’s pretty lightweight stuff, and though it isn’t quite as predictable as you might think, it doesn’t deviate much from the usual rom-com roadmap. Just once it’d be nice to see the gender roles of the loveable loser/pretty American reversed in a film like this. It’s a curiously old fashioned film too, not too many films nowadays will rely on a mix tape as a plot point (though it does lead to an amusing joke) and it’s even odder when Bejan seems to be using a pager.

As I said earlier, it does what it says on the tin and does it well. It’s easy to root for Frost and easy to boo O’Dowd, and the film made me laugh in excess of the six laughs required under the Kermode test of whether a comedy is funny. A good cast, a sharp in places script, and the novelty of seeing Frost not only dance, but dance really well, manage to tip this film just above average. It’s not hugely memorable, and it’s not going to trouble many awards ceremonies this year, but it’s unlikely to sit in anyone’s worst of the year list either.

It’s Fluff yes, but funny, enjoyable fluff that might just dance its way into your heart, if only for 90 minutes…

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