VOD film review: Cuban Fury
Ivan Radford | On 12, Jun 2014
Director: James Griffiths
Cast: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd
Watch Cuban Fury online in the UK: All 4 / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Sky Store / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Nick Frost is great. He’s a great actor, a great writer and – it turns out – a great dancer. So it’s no surprise that when he famously sent a drunken email to a producer suggesting a comedy movie about salsa, the idea got the green light. The problem? Someone then had to actually make the film.
Cuban Fury stars Nick as Bruce, a former salsa prodigy who hung up his heels after bullies beat him up. When new boss Julia (Rashida Jones) turns up at his office, though, his work-life rhythm is shaken up and he finds himself dusting off those old sequins.
His attempts to impress Julia are rivalled by those of his leery male co-worker, Drew (O’Dowd), who may not have fire in his heart but certainly has it somewhere else. Will Bruce remember how to dance and win over his love? That question sums up the main obstacle for Cuban Fury: it’s way too obvious. It feels like a forgotten Will Ferrell flick from the time of Semi-Pro and Blades of Glory.
That’s a shame, given the British talent involved both on and off-screen. The script is penned by Jon Brown, who worked on BBC Three’s Mongrels, and acted by a cast that includes the excellent Olivia Colman as Bruce’s mostly-inebriated sister and the devilishly bitter Ian McShane as his grumpy old mentor, Ron. While both add to the film’s likability, neither bring many laughs. The same is unfortunately true of most of the ensemble: Parks and Rec’s Rashida Jones gets a rare chance to take centre stage, but with a two-dimensional romantic interest, while the superb Rory Kinnear is underused in a token best friend role.
Only two performers manage to inject some flair into proceedings. Chris O’Dowd, who revels in the chance to play against type as the leery, sleazy Drew, and Four Lions’ Kayvan Novak, whose fellow dancer, Dejan, gets the best joke of the film when he shares his recipe for still Fanta.
Frost, of course, leads the troupe with confidence and charm. But the actor is the one you’re cheering on rather than Bruce. Putting in a ridiculous number of hours to get good at getting jiggy, the actor’s commitment to Cuban Fury is commendable. The quality of the rest of it, though, is disappointing. A showdown outside Bruce’s office, which sees him and Drew tip-tapping between parked cars, is a stand-out moment of smart choreography, but the rest of the show misses the beat.
Cuban Fury is available on All 4 until 23rd December 2020.