JEANNE'S REVIEW

 

Nick Frost is one of the funniest guys around. Normally, he pairs up with Simon Pegg, but here, in "Cuban Fury", he's basically flying solo. Frost plays Bruce, a poor schlub, who, as a youngster, was an accomplished salsa dancer, teamed with his sister.

 

Now, Bruce works for a large British firm, and his new boss is a beautiful American, Julia (Rashida Jones), whose secret passion is salsa dancing. Bruce longs to ask Julia to go dancing, but realizes he must brush up on his steps first. He tracks down his old coach, Ron Parfitt (Ian McShane), in an effort to regain his moves. Meanwhile, Bruce's co-worker, Drew (Chris O'Dowd), has made a move on Julia, trying to get her in the sack.

 

The idea for this screenplay came from Frost. He had kicked around the concept of him playing a forlorn salsa enthusiast for years. So after a drunken e-mail, a script by John Brown, and seven months of dance lessons for Nick seven days a week, "Cuban Fury" was born. Frost's footwork is amazing --- as well as his technique. It's difficult to believe such a big guy could be so light on his feet.

 

The film itself is rather formulaic --- fat boy meets pretty girl, both love to dance, he tries to win her over with his salsa prowess. It's not the most original screenplay, but it's rather sweet and quite funny. Couple that with Frost, Jones and O'Dowd starring, and you have the perfect recipe for a romantic comedy.

 

Besides McShane, whom I have always adored, and is still rather sexy and delightful, there are a couple of other standouts in the cast. Olivia Colman plays Sam, Bruce's bartending ex-dancer sister with aplomb. And Kayvan Novak is an over-the-top hoot as Bejan, Bruce's biggest cheerleader.

 

Though I much prefer the Pegg/Frost team, "Cuban Fury" is a worthy vehicle for Frost's talents. It's creatively charming and terrifically amusing!

 

Opinion: Mild See It Now!

 

 

DAVID'S REVIEW

 

There probably isn't a more likeable actor around than Nick Frost. You know him from his comic collaborations with fellow Englishman Simon Pegg in films like "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz", and most recently "The World's End". Now the 42-year-old Brit stars in "Cuban Fury", a film he co-wrote.

 

Frost plays Bruce Garrett, a once-promising competitive salsa dancer as a youth, whose dreams get derailed in a bullying incident many years earlier. As an adult, Bruce is an unhappy, overweight office worker who is overshadowed by obnoxious fellow employee Drew (Chris O'Dowd). When a beautiful American named Julia (Rashida Jones) becomes their boss, with their diametrically opposed personalities, they are each drawn to her.

 

Drew is a snake-in-the grass who will do whatever it takes to bed Julia --- the number of sexual harassment innuendos and exhibitions are surprisingly overt in this film. Bruce finds a different avenue to gain her affection, salsa dancing. It turns out she has a passion for it --- what are the odds? So Bruce enlists the aid of his former dance instructor Ron (Ian McShane), and an oddball character named Bejan (Kayvan Novak), to regain his passion, and most importantly, the salsa steps he used to know.

 

Bruce has a couple of nerdy friends with whom he plays golf, and their get-togethers include what they call a "weekly round-up" where they each summarize their personal activities/progress with the opposite sex. Bruce is most excited when he tells his pals he has gotten a phone number from Julia --- of course, she nearly ran him down on his bicycle at the time. Funny stuff? Not so much.

 

"Cuban Fury" is a crowd pleaser wannabe in the mode of "Strictly Ballroom", or even "Silver Linings Playbook". Its simplistic style and storyline is more reminiscent of the Kevin James film from 2012, "Here Comes the Boom", although James' hero was an ultimate fighter rather than a dancer. When Bruce gets down, and that is a frequent occurrence, he visits his sister Sam (Olivia Colman), who is also a bartender, from whom he draws comfort and advice.

 

Jones is the most pleasant aspect of "Cuban Fury". She is as adorable as O'Dowd's  character is over-the-top. As for Frost, he proves here he can carry a film on his own, although I would like to see him featured in a better movie. One surprising fact came out of the Frost Q&A at our screening. He claimed to have worked out, i.e., salsa style, for seven hours a day for seven months. His dancing in the film is quite amazing for a man his size.

 

Opinion: Wait for DVD