Nick Frost, Chris O'Dowd and Rashida Jones star in lightweight salsa dancing romcom
If it didn’t sound like a totally awful poster quote, Cuban Fury might be billed as ‘From half the team that brought you Shaun of the Dead’. Conceived by and starring Nick Frost, it’s produced by Nira Park, the woman behind all of Frost’s collaborations with Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright. Except that here, Wright is replaced by James Griffiths (Episodes) and the script is penned by Jon Brown (whose sitcom background includes Fresh Meat and Misfits).
The film is set in the world of salsa dancing, and the prologue shows our hero Bruce as a teenage prodigy who gave up his dream one night after taking a beating. Two decades on, Bruce (Frost) – now a few pounds heavier – has long since put his dancing shoes away. Until, that is, he discovers that his new boss Julia (Rashida Jones) is also a secret salsa lover. Taking a shine to her, he decides to reignite his old passion and win her heart – which first means confronting his grumpy former dance teacher (Ian McShane).
There are other obstacles to contend with, notably his slimy colleague Drew (Chris O’Dowd), who also has the hots for Julia, not to mention the fact that he’s somewhat out of practice. Credit to Frost, he’s truly learnt how to salsa and impresses on the floor. Others who also deserve tens across the board include O’Dowd and Olivia Colman, who plays Bruce’s sister and former dance partner.
But while Cuban Fury is a jolly enough film, you never really feel enough’s at stake here. The cast (including the excellent Kayvan Novak) has colour and there’s plenty of sparkly fun to be had. But the script lacks the idiosyncrasies that the Pegg-Frost team-up has so often brought, and the direction is shorn of Wright’s invention. Not so much Saturday Night Fever then, more a Thursday Night Itch.
General release from Fri 14 Feb.