[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=that film guy&asin=B00IE5B7S2][/pullquote] Based on a drunken email that Nick Frost sent to his producer, Cuban Fury marks the first time he’s been on screen in the sole lead role and gives him the opportunity to have a go at something other than playing the supporting role to Simon Pegg. Based on his performance here, he ought to have a decent future of solo comedies ahead of him, even if Cuban Fury still isn’t as good a display of his talent as the Cornetto Trilogy.
Frost plays Bruce Garrett, a former teen salsa champion who gave up dance after a run-in with a group of bullies. Fast-forward 25 years and he’s working a dull job at an engineering firm, spending his days trying to put up with the staggeringly obnoxious Drew (Chris O’Dowd). But when new, American, salsa-loving boss Julia (Rashida Jones) arrives on the scene, he digs out his salsa shoes and sequinned shirt once more in a bid to impress her.
For those expecting the inspired madness of Frost’s collaborations with Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, Cuban Fury will probably disappoint. Compared to those subversive, genre-bending exercises in self-awareness, this is a very by-the-numbers rom-com as far as plot goes. It hits all the familiar beats of the genre, the love interest isn’t a terribly engaging character, and it ends pretty much as you’d expect it to.
All the same, as unambitious as it might be, it’s still a lot of fun. Frost is generally very underrated as an actor because Pegg tends to overshadow him, and he really comes into his own as a comedy lead here. It is a pity that Bruce is a much more simple character than Andy from The World’s End, with comparatively little for Frost to really get his teeth into, but he’s an undeniably entertaining screen presence for all that. It’s Chris O’Dowd who almost walks off with the film, however, and a lot of the film’s big, cringey laughs come from just how revolting a sleazebag his Drew is. Most of the film plays out as a competition between Bruce and Drew over Julia, which culminates in Drew’s hilarious, amazingly ill-advised attempt to break Bruce’s spirit by getting her into bed.
The one new thing the film really adds to the genre is the dancing, and it’s impossible to deny that it’s pretty impressive. Frost reportedly did most of his own stunts, and he is extremely convincing when he does eventually take to the floor once again. The choreography in the final dance competition is actually quite excellent, and Bruce and Drew’s rooftop dance battle to decide who gets to continue pursuing Julia is easily the film’s highlight, involving Frost (or more likely, his stunt double) dancing on a car’s roof before backflipping off. It also features a funny cameo appearance which, in hindsight, we should all have seen coming.
The gender politics are a little questionable, certainly, and it is problematic how the bullying incident which caused Bruce to quit dancing is largely played for laughs later in the film, but all in all Cuban Fury is still a very amusing rom-com.