A 2014 comedy which stars Nick Frost as Bruce Garrett, a former child dance sensation who gives up salsa dancing after being bullied, only to take it up again two decades later when he discovers the new attractive sales manager at work (Rashida Jones) dances salsa.
Nick Frost, familiar as a supporting character in many of Edgar Wright's movies as a sidekick to Simon Pegg, here takes the lead. At twenty stone (280 pounds), Frost capitalizes on his size. At this weight, he is a larger man than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, however, Frost's physique in no way resembles that of Johnson's. The essential comic idea is that a fat man trying to dance (whether gracefully or seductively) is funny. Although the early dance scenes are played for laughs, over the course of the movie, our protagonist manages to achieve success. How much you enjoy this film will depend on your tolerance for a by-the-book underdog story (complete with predictable lines of dialogue) interspersed with absurd comic set pieces (notably, a dance-off in a parking garage between Frost and rival Chris O'Dowd).
The story is well-supported by the supporting actors, including Chris O’Dowd as a horny, foul-mouthed colleague, Olivia Colman as the encouraging sister, Ian McShane as the curmudgeonly dance teacher, Rory Kinnear as Bruce’s dour pub mate, and Kayvan Novak channeling multiple offensive stereotypes as the wacky homosexual/immigrant friend.
Other charms of the film include the Latin music soundtrack. The movie's title is a misnomer, the featured music is not exclusively Cuban, but prominently features Puerto Rican (Tito Puente, Marc Anthony) music as well as club tracks from the Latin music scenes of New York, Venezuela, and Europe.
The choreography (from Richard Marcel) is enjoyable. Frost and Jones do their own dancing, including lifts and throws (Frost spent seven months in training, and he's clearly enjoying the dancing. By the end, he's playing the role straight rather than for laughs, so we're rooting for the underdog instead of laughing at him). The editing in the dance competition scenes which make up the finale of the movie focuses on the main couple, as you would expect... this helps to hide the fact that the surrounding couples are better (they're actual dancers), but unfortunately tends to sacrifice the flow of the dance.
There's not much chemistry between Jones and Frost (one small scene in a bowling alley shows their compatibility, but this doesn't develop), but my main complaint is that Jones isn't much of a character at all. She's cute, and in terms of the plot, a prize to be attained. We never learn anything about what her character desires.
Director: James Griffiths
Writer: John Brown, from an idea by Nick Frost
Running Time: 98 minutes
Rated R (for language)
Joel Arnold. "Talking to Nick Frost About Dance, Passion, and 'Cuban Fury’“ Splitsider. April 10, 2014. http://splitsider.com/2014/04/talking-to-nick-frost-about-dance-passion-and-cuban-fury/, November 20, 2014
Locke Peterseim. "Interview: Nick Frost, Star of Cuban Fury” Hammer and Thump. April 10, 2014. http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/hammerandthump/interview-nick-frost-star-of-cuban-fury/, November 20, 2014
"Cuban Fury." Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2390237/, December 1, 2014.