Monday, 14 July 2014

Cuban Fury

Stretching right the way back to the late nighties, Nick Frost has been to Simon Pegg what salt is to pepper, or Michael Bay to unnecessary explosions - one is seldom seen without the other, even to the point of them both voice acting alongside one another in The Adventures of Tin Tin and the most recent instalment of the Ice Age franchise. Of course, with Pegg's recent foray into Hollywood, it was only a matter of time before Frost began going it alone, too. Whilst he has appeared in films sans-Simon in the past, this salsa-filled hit, Cuban Fury, was considered by many as Frost's big solo break, and expected to be the film that got him away from Pegg's shadow for good. Throw in IT Crowd star Chris O'Dowd, and a writer who's worked on shows such as Two Pints Of Lager... and Misfits, and you have an instant recipe for an instant hit, filled with excellent comedy.


The film follows Bruce Garrett (Frost); once a child salsa star, an incident with a group of bullies scares him off from dancing. That is until, 25 years later, his new, attractive salsa dancing boss (Rashida Jones) reignites the passion inside him. With the help of his old dance coach (Ian McShane), his sister (Olivia Colman), and a young, flamboyant, salsa fanatic (Kayvan Novak), Bruce must overcome his lack of confidence and fitness, as well as his co-worker, Drew (Chris O'Dowd), to rediscover his talent for salsa, and, maybe, win over his boss.

Having watched, and thoroughly enjoyed the film, I'd have to say that the comedy is done almost to perfection. It doesn't feel forced, and practically every single character enjoys a moment of humour. I'm surprised the film didn't go down the route of simply mocking a fat guy trying to dance, which would have been so easy to do. Instead, the humour is witty and surprising, if a little sex-centric at times, but had me laughing for the majority of the hour and a half run time.


The story itself is somewhat unique, managing to avoid falling into many of the cliche romantic-comedy traps along the way, and keeping the focus on our protagonist and his desire to dance. The narrative progresses nicely, without the need for too much excessive exposition - save for the introductory sequence, which succinctly sets the story off to a nice start, accompanied by fun and lively visuals, setting the positive and upbeat tone for the movie ahead.

There is one section in the middle of the film, where the pace seems to lag a little, getting caught up in montages and motivational speeches, with the comedy and salsa scenes seemingly put on the backburner. However, for the most part the pacing is spot on, and fairly quick, keeping the film interesting from the off. This is helped, in large parts, by the salsa scenes themselves.

As one of the parts of the film that really surprised me in how enjoyable they were, the dance scenes really steal the show, and make this film the enjoyable experience that it is. Combining an upbeat and exotic soundtrack, with exciting, fast paced cinematography and editing, as well as stunning choreography, these scenes are an absolute delight - both visually, and for watching the protagonist show off some excellent moves.


All in all, the film is lively and fun, filled with British comedy stars, and will no doubt make you laugh and smile from start to finish. However, whilst Frost is fantastic, along with most of the cast, it doesn't entirely get him out of a certain Mr Pegg's shadow...

Cuban Fury gets a 4/5.

[★★★★☆]

Adam Freeman


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