Cuban Fury was billed as a comedy and a promising one. It has an all-star cast and a funny concept"”Nick Frost doing lots of salsa dancing. Unfortunately, what could have been a Shaun of the Dead style take on dance movies ends up being a kind of shocking throwback to the early 2000 as a formulaic-as-they-come romcom.
Seriously, it's a great concept. I chuckled as soon as I saw the poster and logline. Nick Frost is Bruce Garrett, a former child salsa star who gave up his promising career after being bullied by some yobbos. Things never really picked back up for him; in his mid thirties, he's constantly belittled by ass coworker Drew (Chris O'Dowd). And it all gets worse when new girl Julia (Rashida Jones) arrives at the company: Bruce is desperately in love with her but can only stammer while Drew smooth talks. He soon realizes that the only way he can become the captain of his own destiny is by dusting off his sequined shirt and salsaying his way to a completed character arc.
It's not that the dance scenes don't pay off"”they do, in a big way. Frost trained for seven months before shooting started, and the final danceoff between him and O'Dowd was truly a sight to behold. Complemented by a sizzling (because you can't write a review about a latin dance movie without using that word) soundtrack, what dance moments there are really pay off.
We could have used more of them, though. The ones that do exist show an odd reluctance to display the leading man. Rather than rejoice in Frost's goofy moves, the camera had a tendency to avoid him in many of the dance scenes. There are only a brief second or two of wide shots of Frost dancing"”the kinds of shots that assure the viewer that it really is him out there and not a double; the kind of shots that let us sit still in the moment and actually watch him move.
The plot is cliché's AA sponsor"”not that that's a bad thing for fans of romcoms. But I mean, the main characters meet cute while bumping into each other. If you're bored of that stuff, last year had a bunch of original romances well worth watching (Enough Said, About Time).
Rashida Jones makes the best of the poor role she was given, as does Ian Macshane.
Chris O'Dowd was surprisingly awesome; he truly stands out in his performance as the ultimate asshole coworker.
If you're looking for a lazy date, Cuban Fury is good for a few laughs. But its not a comedy on par with this cast's best work, and it's not a self-aware and self-indulgent romcom like The Wedding Planner.
The movie could have been better served by picking one of those two routes. It ends up standing at the fork in the road.