Nick Frost does salsa. That’s the general concept behind Cuban Fury, a dance-inspired rom-com that pits Frost against Chris O’Dowd as they fight for the affection of Rashida Jones.
James Griffith’s film works, which is a good thing because it could have been a film that was never as good as its original pitch (fatman dancing). Nick Frost brings enough charm as the former childhood salsa dancer who overcomes a childhood trauma to win the love of the woman of his dreams. Frost carries the film on his broad shoulders, giving the film a believability, even when it strays into far-fetched territory. However, it’s O’Dowd who is able to let kick-back and give it his all as the ‘villain’ of the piece. You get the feeling that Griffith just turned the camera on the Irish funny man and let the smut and perversion just roll out of his mouth.
Olivia Coleman does strong work, as Frost’s motivational sister and former dance partner, while Ian McShane is unhand to doll-out some grumpy old bastard sage advice. There’s not enough McShane and you get the feeling that they had to fit his scenes into an allotted-time frame. It’s a crying shane.
Cuban Fury is much like Frost’s dancing in the film, light and breezy. The Cuban-styled music gives things a flamboyant energy, while Dick Pope delivers some string visuals that add an extra pizzaz to proceedings. Filmmakers take note – this is how to deliver a British rom-com.
However, as good as Cuban Fury is (and it is good), it’s missing a little bit of sparkle (despite Frost’s flamboyant shirts). I never really bought the relationship between Frost and Jones, it felt too simplistic and underwritten – Frost had more onscreen chemistry with O’Dowd, which I’m sure wasn’t the intention. If it was, then the film may have worked on a totally different level.
Cuban Fury is fun movie that manages to transcend its central premise. Good performances and flash visuals mean that this makes for an enjoyable 90 minutes or so. Movies are made to entertain and Cuban Fury does just that.
I’ve said that Cuban Fury lacks depth, but the same cannot be said for the special features. The stand-out is an hour-plus making-of, while the disc also comes with additional scenes (one scene of a trouser-less O’Dowd riffing, and a fake infomercial) and some bedding the scenes stuff on the dancing. Much like the movie, it’s much better than it should be.