As a 13-year-old, Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) was a star salsa dance who was on his way to the top. He along with his sister Sam (Olivia Colman) formed an elite tag-team duo under the coaching of Ron Parfitt (Ian McShane) who were on step away from winning The Nationals, only Bruce ended up quitting after a haunting encounter with a group of bullies. He put away his dancing shoes ever since, and never looked back.
Years later Bruce is dulling away at his job, stuck with a lousy frenemy/co-worker named Drew (Chris O’Dowd) is a sleezy frat boy in a suit. Bruce springs to life with the arrival of Julia (Rashida Jones) the pretty and charming new boss newly transferred from America. Bruce falls for her on the spot, but so does Drew, who just wants to sleep with her, naturally. Drew is quick to make the moves, but it’s by a chance encounter outside of work that Bruce discovers that Julia takes Salsa classes. Thus, Cuban Fury is put into motion.
Out of shape, and out of practice, Bruce is forced to return to the old stomping grounds of his former teacher Ron. Although he once was Ron’s protégé, it takes some convincing in order for Ron to forgive him for bailing on him and the world of dance as a whole. It takes some time, but soon Ron is back to his old ways, full of the same fire and flare that once made him unstoppable. He sets out to impress Julia, but it seems that Drew is always one step ahead of him. You can see where this is going.
Frost is best known for playing second fiddle to Simon Pegg for most of his career, so it’s great to see him taking the lead in a fun film where he’s full in charge. Frost is fully capable of carrying it on its own, although it helps that the hilarious Chris O’Dowd and the charming Rashida Jones are at his side. Frost has chemistry with both of his co-stars, especially with O’Dowd, who counters Frost perfectly. Then there’s some charming work from Rory Kinnear and Tim Plester who play Bruce’s friend’s Gary and Mickey, as well as the flamboyant Bejan, played in lovable fashion by Kayvan Novak.
While Cuban Fury isn’t a game changer, it gets by well enough with charming direction from James Griffiths (in his full-length debut), and a fun script by Jon Brown. It’s somewhat hard to believe that a character like the one Frost portrays would be the type skilled in the art of Salsa, but it’s these types of everyman stories that audiences love to see, because we all see a little bit of us in a character like Bruce. There’s nothing like a good underdog story. Throw in a bit of wry humor and a likable cast, and you got a middle of the road comedy that made for a mostly enjoyable screening.