Built upon an original idea conceived by star and producer Nick Frost himself, Cuban Fury is a million miles away from the films Frost’s name has become synonymous with – and not solely because this one sees him dance. Yet thanks to his indomitable craft, the heart-warming, inspiring message at its core and its crowd-pleasing nature, the film is, by and large, a success, though not one that leaves a particularly lasting impression.
When salsa dancing protege Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) is targeted by a gang of local bullies for his love of dance and sequined attire, he abandons his dream, quickly settling into a mundane, dissatisfying life of constantly feeling second best. That all changes, however, when his new boss Julia (Rashida Jones), who also happens to favour salsa dancing, catches his eye, inspiring him to dust off his dancing shoes and alter the dull rhythm of his life forever.
Likely to be a moderate hit in the UK and stateside due not only to Frost’s cult status, but also former Parks & Recreation star Jones’ involvement, Cuban Fury is an entertaining and bubbly rom-com that’s steeped in Cuban culture – from salsa itself, to its buoyant soundtrack and foreign, yet nonetheless familiar sensibility. Its screenplay, written by Jon Brown, is conventional, yet brisk and well saturated with buffoonery and lively sequences to keep it charming.
Sadly, it’s not quite as spiky as it needs to be, and the constant quarreling between Bruce and his workmate Drew (Chris O’Dowd) aren’t all that funny, despite solid acting from both performers. And, as much as the dancing aspect of the film is unique (it’s worth saying here that each and every cast member dances their socks off to the best of their ability), the sequences are let down by overly ambitious, clunky direction from newcomer James Griffiths.
That said, Cuban Fury is light, colourful and pleasantly distracting, and those after something sincere and no-nonsense will be rewarded. The acting is solid (Olivia Colman delivers a nice turn as Bruce’s loyal sister Sam, while Kayvan Novak steals all of his scenes as Bruce’s extremely camp salsa buddy Bejan), and it’s refreshing to see Frost hold a film on his own without regular sidekick Simon Pegg. All in all, it’s a hearty and spirited British comedy that’s worth a look.