Director: James Griffiths
Starring: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, Olivia Colman, Ian McShane, Kayvan Novak, Rory Kinnear
Written by: Jon Brown and (based on an original idea) Nick Frost
Running Time: 98 mins
Release date: 14th February 2014
To make the perfect comedy you have to get all the right ingredients: a solid cast, a good story, a funny script and a director who can pull it all together. So when I say that Cuban Fury has half of those ingredients present, then you will understand that this was an okay comedy instead of a great one. Which is a pity because I was willing it to be great.
As a young boy, Bruce Garrett was the king of Salsa, holding every major trophy apart from Nationals. On the night of the competition, he meets up with some bullies and they crush his dream, leaving him walking away from dance for good. Year later, Bruce is now designing lathes and working under a monstrously slick Drew. The company has a new boss, Julia and Bruce is immediately smitten but knows he is out of her league. Until he discovers that she loves Salsa. Having walked away, Bruce can only think of one thing to do: eat humble pie and return to his old teacher, Ron Parfait. With Drew closing in for the kill on Julia, Bruce must prove he still has fire in his belly if he is ever to win the girl.
Based on an idea by star, Nick Frost, this is a simple, if unoriginal, story of the underdog, the put-upon, rising to the challenge. Nothing wrong with that, especially when it’s Mr frost who is having to do all the dancing. Seven hours a day for seven months and Nick is a Salsa dancer. And very good he is too. However, the film needs more than a nice idea and some smooth moves on the dance floor to fully impress the audience and while we admire Mr Frost for his dedication, he is somewhat let down by a limp script that just is not funny enough and direction that is, well, workmanlike and that’s it.
Instead of a laugh-a-minute feel good rom-com, we get a handful of chuckles and a reliable cast who do everything in their power to make this work. Thank goodness they are there then because they just about pull it off. Nick Frost is a very likeable character and playing the mild-mannered Bruce, he could quite easily be the central clown. Instead he is more the straight man, allowing his fellow cast members to take the comedy accolades.
Rashida Jones, from TV’s Parks And Recreations, is charming and it’s very easy to see why Bruce would fall for her. Olivia Colman, as Bruce’s sister, is always a joy to behold and Rory Kinnear is perfectly cast as Bruce’s best friend, the frustrated yet married, Gary. Chris O’Dowd relishes in playing the slime ball, Drew, a man so hideous it’s a surprise he hasn’t been knocked out several times over. If you want grouchy mentor types, then Ian McShane is your man, with his growling voice and dog-faced features, he is suitably apt as teacher, Ron.
The whole film is stolen from under everyone’s noses by the gloriously over-the-top Kayvan Novak as the camp Latino, Bejan, with a partiality to still Tango, it reminded me of Bronson Pinchot’s scene stealing performance in Beverly Hills Cop. A delight every time he appears.
While the dancing is great, the music spot-on and the cast all having a tremendous time, I did enjoy Cuban Fury but somehow I expected more. I expected to be holding my sides throughout and coming out with a spring, or a Cha-Cha-Cha in my step. Instead I enjoyed it while it was happening but longing for more and with the talent involved, I should have got more.