Cuban Fury – released on Valentine’s Day – has great comic pedigree, being created by the team that had us laughing at Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and Paul. Starring Nick Frost without his usual comedy partner Simon Pegg, there are also roles for British comedy legends Olivia Colman and Chris O’Dowd.
Frost plays shabby, overweight Bruce Garrett in this movie about a middle-aged man who rekindles his childhood love of Salsa dancing. It is a rom-com, so of course he is trying to woo a pretty girl – Rashida Jones. She also happens to be his boss. Frost’s body shape is not – how shall I put it – that of your typical romantic lead. It is refreshing to see the hero being more of an everyman than most everymen actors, although Jones‘ love interest is still a typically good-looking, successful movie character.
Bruce is happy in his work at a company that sells lathes. His success with women is not high – each week he meets with friends to play golf and reveal to each other how unsuccessful they have been that week. He has a secret though, which is revealed in the first shots of the film, so don’t worry, I’m not ruining anything by telling you – Bruce used to dance salsa when he was a boy.
Salsa becomes his way of trying to win the girl of his dreams. The plot requires that Bruce quickly becomes a very good salsa dancer. You can take this in your stride, willingly suspending your disbelief, but the evidence on film is not conclusive. The dancing scenes are not played for laughs as you might expect when hearing that the film includes Nick Frost and salsa. Instead of concentrating on the dancing, the director gives us lots of reaction shots of the audience, cheering at the moves that they can see and we can’t. When the dancing is shown it is mainly the female characters who do the more ambitious moves.
The best lines in the film go to Kayvan Novak who created the Channel 4 comedy fonejacker. He plays Frost’s camp cheer-leader, Bejan. He is an eccentric who drinks still Fanta, which he has to make himself by leaving sparkling Fanta on the balcony for two days. Novak’s moments on screen drive the laughs and every time he appears you are waiting for his next amusingly delivered line.
Chris O’Dowd plays Drew, a workmate who is specialises in being coarse. The character’s language is not pleasant which stops Cuban Fury being a fun film for dance-loving children. As it is it Cuban Fury will appeal to dance fans, Nick Frost fans and anyone who wants to see what Ian McShane looks like nowadays. And if you don’t blink I think you’ll catch a glimpse of Simon Pegg in a very short cameo half-way through.