20 February 2014
CUBAN FURY- Review
Arriving in the form that it has, based on an idea by a drunken Nick Frost, it actually does a serviceable job of straddling those two extremes and comes out much sweeter. Frost plays Bruce Garrett, a former salsa-dancing prodigy who threw it all away after one traumatic incident. Approaching 40, he's shy and unfulfilled, but a crush on his dance-fan boss Julia puts the fire back in his heels, and he decides to take up the salsa again, in a bid to woo her away from a womanising colleague.
To say that it's sweet doesn't necessarily preclude that it's not funny, but there's definitely something lacking here, and it takes a little time to realise what that is. It's interesting that Frost's first real solo project mirrors his Cornetto buddy Simon Pegg's Run, Fat Boy, Run, in spoofing sports movie tropes in a romcom setting, but we've seen a few movies like this, complete with flatpack supporting characters drawn from the Richard Curtis furniture catalogue. Rashida Jones, Olivia Colman and Rory Kinnear are all fine as Bruce's love interest, sister and daft best mate, respectively, but as written, they're all too familiar.
The film only ever seems to come up short after we've seen it at its best, in a visually audacious dance-fight between Bruce and Drew, which nearly hares into Scott Pilgrim territory. Aside from having more laughs than any other scene, it's the best choreographed action scene I've seen in ages. Therein lies the rub- the film doesn't need to be this original all the way through, and so it's not. But once you've seen that scene, it colours the by-numbers charm of what went before, and what follows, in a way that makes it all look somewhat pedestrian.
Through it all, the film's real success is Frost's- he came up with the idea, and its his turn that keeps the final product going. Between this and The World's End, he's breaking out of his daft sidekick typecast, and showing off his versatility as a comic actor. What differentiates Bruce from some Kevin James buffoon is that the audience is on his side right from the start, as we see his self-esteem being plowed away by bullies to the point where he spends his evenings alone, eating four pots of yoghurt at once. Plus, Frost has clearly put work into learning to salsa, (if only to a fifth-week-of-Strictly standard) and even if the central joke is about a fat man dancing, it's never mean-spirited.
Cuban Fury is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
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I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.