Actor Nick Frost has always had a kinship with longtime friend and constant colleague, Simon Pegg. The duo have traded comedic blows back and forth in films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Paul. Yet, my favorite Nick Frost film has always been Pirate Radio, an English comedy where he shared the stage with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy and Chris O'Dowd. In 2014 Frost re-teams with O'Dowd for another hilarious effort, the dance comedy Cuban Fury.
Bruce Garrett (Frost) grew up as a young Salsa-Dancing superstar who won competition after competition. But on his way to the national tournament, a group of bullies give him a beat-down he'd never forget and Bruce turns his back on the skill he once loved. Fast forward 20-some years later and Bruce is an overweight loner lacking in confidence. And when his attractive new boss (Rashida Jones) arrives in town, Bruce must compete for her Salsa-loving affection with a cocky and confident co-worker named Drew (O'Dowd).
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of James Griffiths' directorial motion-picture debut, Cuban Fury, is the film's surplus of outrageous laugh out loud dialogue. With it, the movie offers no shortage of perfectly honed characters that are both charming and endearing. Nick Frost gives a strong performance as Cuban Fury's leading star and illustrates magnificent footwork in the highly choreographed scenes. Frost admittedly spent seven hours a day for seven months leading up to production dedicating himself to mastering the art of Salsa-Dancing. His commitment pays off as the dance moves are almost as noteworthy as the feature's high-level of humor. Surprisingly, the greatest source of laughter comes from a rather unknown actor, Kayvan Novak. This role is sure to place Novak on the map and open many doors for his career. With an absurdly unique style of improvisation, he's relentless in his comedic pursuit. O'Dowd is no slouch either, as a trio of hysterical performers make Cuban Fury a winning effort.
If there's a noticeable complaint to the film, it's a lack of originality to the story. The movie follows a far too familiar tale with only a slightly different spin, Salsa-Dancing. At the core, Cuban Fury is an underdog story where the unlikely "loser" gets the pretty girl. A common theme that only works if the execution is spot on. And with this film, it most certainly is. A weak foundation creates an insurmountable ceiling for the movie, however, Frost and company never let up and ultimately take Cuban Fury as far as it can go.
At a brisk-moving pace that never bogs down the audience, Cuban Fury is an absolute delight. The writers and cast earn their R-rating and the result is exceptional. You can expect a barrage of jokes and laugh out loud scenes that support a mediocre, but well-executed, story. Cuban Fury is a fine comedic effort that surely pays off.