MRR Review: "Cuban Fury"

Photo Credit: Entertainment One

Rating: R
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: April 11, 2014
Directed by: James Griffiths
Genre: Comedy

Nick Frost, Chris O'Dowd and Rashida Jones star in the fun and clever British comedy "Cuban Fury," an adventure of love and salsa dancing that is sure to draw laughs. Bruce was a salsa legend as a youth, but he became a chubby, mundane office worker after giving up his passion. However, his salsa spirit reignites when he chooses to woo the beautiful new boss with his quick stepping. The plot may be somewhat predictable but the brilliant acting and constant gags are enough to keep comedy-lovers entertained from the first minutes to the moment the credits begin to roll.

In 1987, Bruce is a 13-year-old champion salsa dancer with a passion for dancing, and he is working his way up to the highly anticipated UK Junior Salsa Championships. Everything changes for young Bruce when a group of bullies target him on the streets of London, and the freak incident scars him so deeply that he decides to give up salsa dancing completely. More than two decades later, Bruce has transformed into an overweight, self-proclaimed unattractive industrial engineer who keeps to himself and has no luck with women. On top of that, his co-worker Drew is rude and mean to poor Bruce.

When the attractive new boss enters the scene, an American woman who is both smart and witty, both Bruce and Drew are stricken. Drew immediately tries to woo the gorgeous Julia, but Bruce is hesitant, believing that she is way out of his league. He finds a spark of hope when he discovers that the fun-loving Julia is a salsa fan, so he decides to move out of his comfort zone and begin dancing again. However, he is way out of shape and needs help if he wishes to steal the boss's affections.

He sets out to get back in shape and work on his rusty salsa skills as he aims to compete in a monumental dance contest. With the help of his grumpy dance mentor Ron, his old dance partner Sam and the flamboyant salsa dancer Bejan, Bruce prepares for the biggest moment of his life. At the same time, he must watch out for the sneaky Drew, who uses more deceptive means of wooing Julia.

"Cuban Fury" does not offer a unique plot or extremely intriguing characters, but the fast-paced humor it dishes out at every turn is more than enough to entice movie-goers. Director James Griffiths keeps things consistently fun and lighthearted, and the unique combination of comedy and salsa provides for plenty of hilarious moments. Despite this, the film often acts more like a rom-com than an outright comedy, charming audiences with Bruce's incessant love for Julia. This factor makes it an overall enjoyable film and widens its audience appeal.

Nick Frost plays the lead role of Bruce, and his performance is completely lovable and genuine. Frost, who is best known for playing Simon Pegg's wingman in films like "Shaun of the Dead" and "The World's End" finally ventures out of his sidekick roles in "Cuban Fury," and many fans were unsure whether the actor would hold his own as a lead character. Frost does not disappoint, effortlessly delivering endless humor while capturing the hearts of audiences with his sentimental side. Even alongside actors like Chris O'Dowd and Rashida Jones, Chris Frost shines as the movie's star.

That being said, Chris O'Dowd still gives a great performance as the despicable Drew, effectively creating a character that is both funny and unlikable. O'Dowd's delivery is not as convincing his acting in previous films, but he still holds his own throughout the movie and snatches up his own shining moments. Ian McShane, known for films like "Snow White and the Huntsman" and "Lovejoy," melts into his role with ease. The rest of the cast, including Rashida Jones, Olivia Colman and Kayjan Novak, complete the film with a dose of great acting.

The salsa scenes are fun to watch, especially the scenes taking place during the big salsa competition. Clever editing and use of stand-ins makes each dance both believable and thoroughly entertaining. Fans of the dance style will also be pleased that the film represents various styles of salsa, and all audiences will marvel at the tricky dance feats and lifts.

"Cuban Fury" attempts to draw audiences in with a heart-felt story and genuine characters, and it succeeds on every level. The gags are sure to keep audiences chuckling, but the fun salsa twist and charming actors are the real draw of the film. This entertaining comedy is a great pick for movie-goers who are just looking for a good time.