When it comes to comedies, Brits do gritty better than feelgood – hands up who liked
Withnail & I
? So the arrival of James Griffiths’ sweet-spirited romcom about salsa dancing should be cause for concern. Until, that is, you see the cast list...
Nick Frost plays disappointed office drone Bruce Garrett, an “unstoppable salsa machine” in his youth who found that “the fire in my heels just went out”.
That flame gets reignited by the arrival of his sparkynew boss Julia (Rashida Jones), so with the help of his sister (Olivia Colman), alcoholic trainer (Ian McShane) and new GBF (the scene-stealing Kayvan Novak) – not to mention the hindrance of toxic lothario Drew (Chris O’Dowd) – Bruce dusts off his dancing shoes and gets back on the floor.
Combining witty exchanges with pop-cultural references, Brown’s script is expertly tailored to Frost’s self-effacing screen persona. One scene that manages to be sad, funny and telling has Bruce eating all four sections of a multi-pack yoghurt with the lip-licking concentration of a connoisseur.
Later, he describes a potential coupling with Jones as “like a butterfly going out with a parsnip”. Bruce is scared to be himself and Frost excels in his most onerous leading role yet, bringing quiet dignity to Bruce’s plight before unleashing his inner salsa demon.
Indeed, the only scene that seems out of place is one that sees him subbed by a stuntman, although it offers some of the film’s best lines as recompense. Otherwise, Cuban Fury trips light-footedly between adorable date flick and amusing six-pack movie, not just pulling off an array of difficult moves, but making them look effortless.
A great big bear-hug of a Britcom, with rhinestones on its shirt, salsa in its heart and dick jokes up its sleeve. Something for everyone, then.
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