out of Five
Running time: 98
Enjoyable British comedy that succeeds thanks to strong comic performances, likeable characters, a charming script and a lightness of touch.
What's it all about?
Directed by James Griffiths, Cuban Fury stars Nick Frost as tubby industrial designer Bruce, who was once a child prodigy dance champion, before incessant bullying caused him to turn his back on his dream. However, when he falls for his attractive new American boss Julia (Rashida Jones), he discovers that she likes to salsa, so he attempts to dust off his dance moves in order to impress her.
Encouraged by his sister-slash-former-dance-partner Sam (Olivia Colman) and his best friends (Rory Kinnear and Tim Plester), Bruce tracks down his old mentor (Ian McShane) and persuades him to help get him back in shape. Unfortunately, Bruce has a rival in the form of sleazy, womanising co-worker Drew (Chris O'Dowd), who has some moves of his own and has set his sights on Julia.
Frost makes a likeable and relatable lead, generating enjoyably sparky chemistry with both Jones (charming) and Colman (even more delightful than usual, which is saying something). He also does a convincing job of the dance moves (there's no obvious body doubling, for example), which has the side benefit of giving the film an inspirational 'If he can do it, anyone can do it' vibe.
The rest of the supporting cast are equally good, particularly McShane (sticking to the colourfully sweary persona he's traded on since Deadwood), O'Dowd (clearly relishing the chance to play an absolute cock) and a scene-stealing Kayvan Novak as Bruce's exuberant fellow dance student Bejan, who agrees to help him train.
The script is largely predictable, but it is at least aware of its limitations and keeps things at a level of believability (rather than having, say, Bruce entering a national championship) that works well. It is, admittedly, something of a one-joke film (that joke being "Fat man dancing"), but it makes that joke work without making the audience actually laugh at Bruce; instead, you are firmly in his corner
It's fair to say that despite some very funny lines and some great character work, the film largely settles for consistent low-level chuckles rather than out-and-out belly laughs, but there is one stand-out sequence involving a brilliantly choreographed dance-off in a car park that is worth the price of admission. Similarly, Griffiths gets the tone of the film exactly right, pulling off an enjoyable feel-good atmosphere without resorting to ridiculous clichés or forced sentimentality.
Cuban Fury is an entertaining British romcom that ticks all the right feel-good boxes and won't disappoint if you're looking for a suitable date movie for Valentine's Day. Recommended.