Stars Chris O'Dowd, Rashida Jones, Ian McShane and Nick Frost Rated M
If you're a fan of the 1992 hit Strictly Ballroom and looking for this decade's replacement (ish), then this could be it. Cuban Fury, just like Strictly Ballroom, takes the world of ballroom or latin dance, spins it into an existential crisis, throws in a love interest, and delivers a comedy.
Except this time, it's British, and the idea came from Nick Frost, best known for his roles in other British comedies Shaun of the Dead and The World's End. Frost is no Paul Mecurio, but he's a hell of a lot funnier, and if you want a film that doesn't take itself too seriously, you're in for a treat.
In a nutshell, Cuban Fury is about loveable loser Bruce (Frost), who, after a nasty case of bullying as a boy, gives up the one thing he loves – salsa dancing. And he was pretty good at it too. But what's a boy to do but follow the crowd? Flash forward 30-odd years, and Bruce grows up to be a engineer, working with possibly the most vile character ever to be created in a comedy, Drew, played a little too well by Chris O'Dowd (The I.T Crowd, Bridesmaids). Drew is your typical misogynist, and he's constantly giving Bruce a hard time for absolutely nothing. The arrival of Julia (Rashida Jones), gives Bruce the chance to rediscover his love of salsa dancing and finally stand up to Drew, his current tormentor. But Bruce needs the support of his friends, both new and old, and especially his old teacher and mentor, Ron Parfait (Ian McShane). Will Bruce get the girl, return to salsa dancing, and live happily ever after?
Well of course he will, but the journey to get there is worth the 98 minutes you'll spend with him. Frost is terrific as Bruce, a guy who goes from zero to hero. He's so likeable you want him to win, and you want him to get the girl in the end. O'Dowd, as his truly disgusting nemesis Drew, is the anti-Bruce, and the work drinks drinks scene is the perfect example of Drew at his most horrible and Bruce at the other end of the douchebag spectrum. Their fight scene in the carpark is hilarious.
Rashida Jones as the lovely Julia is sweet enough, and doesn't come off as the hapless victim of Drew's advances. It's like she's been cast in this role because of all her comedic skills she's honed from her roles in Parks and Recreation and I Love You, Man.
Supporting characters like Bruce's circle of friends are great too. They are well and truly set in their loserdom, though, highlighting just how far down the social scale Bruce has slipped. They partake in a "weekly wrapup" where they count all their lady encounters, amounting to zero. It's funny, but oh my goodness it's so so sad.
The best supporting characters though are Bruce's old salsa and mentor, Ron, and his new flamboyant salsa-loving friend, Bejan (Kayvan Novak). Ron is the archetypcal crusty old man whose tough exterior belies a soft and caring fatherly type on the inside, and Bejan? Well, he's the guy who is not afraid to be himself, and it's his self-confidence that makes Bruce believe in himself too.
The dancing and the soundtrack in this film are definitely entertaining, and, what's more, the 80s references that were so prevalent in Frost's other film Hot Fuzz also peek through here (Thundercats and The Goonies are pretty well represented). It's a treat for any 80s tragic.
Cuban Fury is for anyone who has lost their way and forgotten what their passion is. It's about being yourself and being proud of who you are. It's about embracing what makes you, you, and discovering that you can only be who you are born to be. But most of all, it's about not letting the bullies rip the sequins off your outfit. So shine, baby, shine, and definitely see Cuban Fury for a shot of salsa-infused confidence.