UK Release Date: 14th February 2014
Runtime: 98 minutes
Director: James Griffiths
Writer: Jon Brown
Starring: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, Kayvan Novak, Ian McShane, Olivia Colman
Synopsis: An engineer returns to his salsa dancing past in order to woo his new boss, before his douchebag colleague gets there first.
Fresh from concluding the Cornetto Trilogy last year with The World’s End, Nick Frost has moved on to high-kicking passion project Cuban Fury. He underwent intensive salsa training in order to do many of the dance sequences himself, but this is more than just a movie about dancing. It’s also a romcom with loads of laughs and a real heart.
Loveable engineer Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) is dazzled by new boss Julia (Rashida Jones). Unfortunately, she also catches the eye of Bruce’s sleazebag colleague Drew (Chris O’Dowd). When Bruce discovers Julia salsa dancing, he realises he has to go back to his dancing roots with the help of his sister (Olivia Colman), old coach (Ian McShane) and flamboyant dancer Bejan (Kayvan Novak).
Despite its solid premise, Cuban Fury gets off to a shaky start. The script, from TV scribe Jon Brown, simply isn’t good enough at establishing its characters whilst keeping the gag rate high and so falls short on both tasks.
| "She’s like a ten and I’m a two. That’s like a butterfly going out with a parsnip."
Thankfully though, once the real thrust of the story gets underway, Cuban Fury really finds a second wind, taking the characters and the jokes to the next level. Some of the later salsa scenes are vibrant, hilarious and remarkably entertaining, setting up a finale that manages to sidestep cliché and predictability.
Nick Frost is solid in the central role and Rashida Jones is equally strong, but given very little lifting to do. Cuban Fury comes alive though with its supporting performances. Special praise must go to the reliable Olivia Colman and a woefully underused Alexandra Roach, but it’s Kayvan Novak (best known as the Fonejacker), on true scene stealing form, who is the real highlight, along with one wonderful cameo.
Unfortunately, many supporting cast members are given very little to do, with Chris O’Dowd and Ian McShane struggling to make their presence felt with meagre material. Cuban Fury is a real mixed bag of a film.
| "Oh, I would not like to be those tyres…"
The emotional pull behind the film is weak and there are times at which the plot almost completely stops. Fortunately, there’s enough fun lurking in amongst the sequins to make it work.
Pop or Poop?
Cuban Fury is not the best of this year’s Valentine’s movies, but it’s also far from being the worst.
Nick Frost is as amiable as ever in the lead role, aided by great comic turns from Rashida Jones, Olivia Colman and Kayvan Novak, fresh from his great display in Four Lions.
It’s flawed, but amusing, and almost worth watching just for a delicious cameo in the third act and a sublime scene in a car park.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.