Cuban Fury (2014)

Ben Radcliffe, Ian McShane, Isabella Steinbarth, Brandon Robinson
Beneath Bruce Garrett's under-confident, overweight exterior, the passionate heart of a salsa king lies dormant. Now, one woman is about to reignite his Latin fire.
Nick Frost and Chris O'Dowd remain as undeniably likable as ever, but Cuban Fury saddles them with a contrived and predictable plot that's far too short on laughs.
  • 11 Apr 2014 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • $90.3k Box office:

All subtitles:


Predictable, yet strangely endearing6/10
Like most people, I'm used to seeing Nick Frost as part of a 'double act' with friend and fellow actor Simon Pegg (or technically 'triple act' with their director Edgar Wright). However, in 'Cuban Fury' we see what he's capable of when headlining the bill.

In case you haven't seen any of the posters for this film, it's about dancing. Frost plays his typically mellow, overweight self who used to dance as a child, until he was bullied into giving it up by other boys. Now, as a man, he has to regain his dancing feet in order to win over the (naturally beautiful and coincidentally American) woman he loves.

I could tell you how it goes, but, if you can't guess, then you haven't watched enough films. Its major flaw is that it's painfully predictable. You can sort of see every situation coming and feel like you could have even written it yourself if you put your mind to it. However, despite this being a 'tried and tested' formula, it's still enjoyable to watch.

Nick Frost may not be fighting zombies or aliens, but he's still naturally charming and managed to be watchable as he bumbles his way through the film. After watching it I didn't feel like I'd wasted an hour and a half of my life (although I'm not likely to bother watching it again on account of me already having seen a hundred films just like it). It's basically nothing new, but if you're in the mood for something light, frothy and easy-going, there are worst ways of spending your time.

Also, special mention to Olivia Coleman who, in my opinion, stole every scene she was in. Pity she wasn't in it more.
One To Likely Make You Want To Dance8/10
After a terrible bullying experience, Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) has now become an ego-deflated, self-loathing, trapped as a wallflower young engineer who lost all hopes of ever being in love with his only escape is eating at Nando's take-outs. When the arrival of his new boss, an American named Julia (Rashida Jones), his lease on life turns for the better. However, he does feel worthy enough to win her love. His dominant male colleague named Drew (Chris O'Dowd) naturally steps up to the plate to win her heart. Within a twist of irony, she has a very true passion for a man who could dance, particularly salsa dancing, which he is master in that craft. Bruce gets drawn back to the inner demons that has been haunting him for a long time. But through trail and error along with some persuasion from his sister Sam (Olivia Colman), Bruce must regain the dancing skills he once perfected and to try to the win the heart out of Julia up on the dance floor.

If you've seen the 1993 "Strictly Ballroom", you'll simply enjoy "Cuban Fury", a film that juxtaposes the romantic comedy romp along with the art of salsa dancing to keep you both entertained while you hum to the music as the dancing will come after you something fierce. The movie like "Strictly Ballroom", has its share of intriguing characters that are both humorous and very effective in their actions and the dialogue. Television director James Griffiths in his movie debut antes up the charm factor with two great performers like Nick Frost and Chris O'Dowd who's charismatic nature about them never keeps the story from becoming mundane. To those who love salsa dancing may sit still on their seats as Frost and O'Dowd will melt your heart in amazement as they will compete against each other and will dance their hearts out as a way to reach their goals to win the heart of Julia. In the in it isn't Bruce or Drew that's the winner, but for the dance enthusiast, it's the audience that's the winner.

By the time we get introduced to Nick Frost's character, a bulbous, loner of a man who's now a high-ranking industrial machinery designer who was a salsa dancer expert was haunted 22 years ago from a legion of bullies were on the prowl who made him swallow his costume sequins. But his desire to dance returns once his new boss, Julia enters his life who has a fascination for salsa. A memorable scene was when they were in the corridor and their name tags magnetize together was quite precious. What's also hilarious is that her name is Julio. The real scene stealer is Chris O'Dowd as Bruce's rival who also has the hots for Julia, Drew. He's a jerk who likes to tell dirty jokes and makes seductive passes towards Julia.

But it's not just Bruce, Julia and Drew that carry the whole movie. We have Kayvan Novak as Bejan who's also a salsa impresario who encourages Bruce to shave his chest hairs, get a superficial tan and to purchase a silk tan. Olivia Colman who plays Bruces's sister Sam persuades him to relinquish from his comfort zone and takes him to a tavern and gives him some shots where she works while sporting a Polynesian call-girl uniform. Rory Kinnear who plays Bruce's friend Gary who's confused by the situation involving Bruce and Bejan. There's a plethora of great scenes involving Burce and his former salsa dancing coach, Ron Parfitt played by Ian McShane as he get him to regain a talent he lost as he had the "legs of a stallion and the arms of an eagle". McShane has great depth along with compelling facial expressions which flows along the film quite nicely.

The principal leads are virtually sublime and this film is a dynamic underdog story as Frost tries everything to overcome his inner demons to dazzle us with his one hidden talents with his supreme salsa moves which will likely melt your heart like a hot knife through butter. Jones is quite superb as her natural beauty and charm she's in the middle of Bruce and Drew's competitive ways to win her approval. Watch for a cameo from Simon Pegg in a memorable scene in a parking lot where Bruce and Drew are competing against each other showing off their salsa dancing skills. The climax is very exciting as the two rivals compete on the dance floor and is backed by wonderful music and the adrenaline pulsing sound of the crowd as the heart pounds while the rhythms to the sound will likely sweep you off your feet. You never know this movie may inspire you to want to learn the art of salsa dancing.
Great cast. Great Script. Great Rom-Com.8/10
These 90 minutes had me laughing so much I had tears on my cheeks by the end of the film. Cuban Fury is a great movie. It is full of rom-com cliches and it uses them all superbly. Everything is in there including a training montage. I laughed loads from start to finish. It you want a check list of reasons to see this film then: Nick Frost - Check Chris O'Dowd - Check Rashida Jones - Check Kayvan Novack - Check and Check again. Olivia Coleman - Check.

There is also great support from Ian McShane, Alexandra Roach and Rory Kinear as well as a very quick and hilarious cameo from a star that I will not name. Nick Frost gets a chance to shine and show that he is more than Simon Pegg's sidekick and Kayvan Novack steals every scene he is in. The script written by John Brown is very lean and has lots quotable lines such as "Al Pa-f*cking-cino" and "I'm late for my ball waxing". IMDb lists some cast members who do not actually appear in the film which makes me suspect that there has been some good editing to keep the movie tight and maintain its momentum. There is one teeny tiny flaw in the plot (who uses cassette tapes in their car these days?) but I laughed so much that I don't care.

Superb. See it

Now, where can I get salsa lessons?
Cuban Fury: a good balm.7/10
Watching films like the present one is, under some respects, a rite: we know in advance what is awaiting us, we can easily imagine what will happen, how things will turn, how they will end. So when we start watching we wonder mainly one thing: will the story develop as we expect, will our expectations be happily confirmed or on the contrary will something unpleasant let us down? Which is exactly what doesn't have to happen.

Knowingly or not we are seeking for something that will sooth our anxiety, like a balm. This is the prerequisite. Then we check if the film is OK, if it makes us laugh, if the story is original, if it surprises us, if the funny characters are actually funny... and so on.

Well according to me everything is OK in this nice movie, the story is good, the characters are catching and everything is as it had to be: funny and entertaining. A good British answer to American comedies.
There's no dancing around it: this flawed but hugely enjoyable film comes with bucketloads of charm and humour.7/10
Nick Frost usually comes as one-half of a package deal. With Simon Pegg (and their behind-the-scenes collaborator Edgar Wright), Frost has starred in three of the most gloriously subversive, smart and silly British comedies of the past ten years: Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End. Can he hold the screen and get the laughs when he's headlining a film, with neither Pegg nor Wright in sight? The answer is, thankfully, yes. Cuban Fury is a great vehicle for Frost - he grounds the fun, loopy, cheerful dance comedy in something a little more real and affecting, even if the film doesn't quite hit the brilliant heights of the aforementioned Cornetto Trilogy.

After being bullied mercilessly by a pack of boys as a child, Bruce (Frost) swears off the one thing he's really good at: salsa dancing. Fast forward a few decades, and he's a bored, boring office drone forced to suffer the company of Drew (Chris O'Dowd), his lewdest, rudest, meanest colleague. When he meets his new, gorgeous boss Julia (Rashida Jones), however, Bruce feels compelled to step out of his comfort zone - especially when he realises that she loves salsa dancing too. Even as Drew tries to worm his way into Julia's affections, Bruce resolves to put on his dancing shoes again.

The plot of the film is something of a hit-and-miss affair - it can occasionally feel like it's been forcibly stitched together from a bunch of really great stand-alone scenes and ideas. Some of the narrative decisions don't make a whole lot of sense either. Why, for instance, is Julia anointed the boss rather than a new colleague? It seems to complicate matters unnecessarily throughout the entire film, given the ethical issues at stake in an employer-employee relationship.

But there's no real need to over-think things when Cuban Fury is just so goshdarn chirpy, funny and entertaining. The film practically radiates its own brand of amiable humour, often zipping from goofy wordplay to awkward slapstick within the space of a single scene. Amidst the roof-top dance-offs and mix-tape mix-ups, there's even a little room for huge helpings of heart. Bruce becomes a better person for doing what he loves, and it's a joy to see him find the confidence he'd lost all those years ago.

Whenever the script misses a beat, its oddball characters come to the rescue. Frost's Bruce is a standard-issue unlikely hero, and Jones is almost criminally wasted as the painfully underwritten Julia. But the weirdos dancing around them are a delight. Hilariously committed to the part of Drew, O'Dowd is clearly having fun being as rude, nasty and offensive as he possibly can. Ian McShane is marvellous as Bruce's dour old dance teacher, Ron, and Kayvan Novak steals scenes aplenty as Bruce's gleefully flamboyant new friend Bejan. Even so, it's Olivia Colman who walks away with top honours: she's spectacularly funny and appealing as Bruce's open-hearted, game-for-anything sister Sam.

Cuban Fury isn't a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination. Unlike the Cornetto Trilogy, it doesn't have something smarter and more subversive to say about its chosen genre of film. This is a sports-laced romantic comedy with no greater ambition than making its audience laugh. Not every element of it works perfectly, and the script can be lead-footed in parts. But, when it comes down to it, the film is so sweet and silly that it sometimes approaches the sublime.