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February 12, 2014

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


A film about salsa dancing starring Nick Frost at first does sound like an unlikely mix for a good film. There are expectations when you say this actor’s name and they’re mostly for some sharp British comedy a la Spaced or Hot Fuzz. It seems hard to imagine how such an oddly conceived film could deliver this, though as with many of Frost’s films it is best to enter the cinema with an open mind and expect to at least smile.

The more the film’s plotline is considered, the more it does seem like a viable undertaking for Frost. There is, of course, the comedic potential of seeing an actor who couldn’t be any farther from Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, show off some gallant moves on the dance floor. Plus the recent popularity of dancing competition shows strictly indicates there is an audience for watching unlikely famous figures get their glad rags on, grind their hips and twirl to the music. It’s the old duck on the side becomes swan on the dance floor and we all like to think this transformation occurs when we move to some beats on a Saturday night. Is this the winning recipe for a big British comedy hit? Well, it’s light relief in gloomy February but not much else to be honest.

Frost plays a former teen salsa champion called Bruce Garrett who realizes that his life has lost its glamour since he wound up a down-on-his-luck engineer. This guy’s passion for dancing is once again ignited by the most obvious and clichéd reason for a male protagonist to be motivated to get up and go. Love. Yes, that old chestnut. It’s an abused formula but it can be argued that if it isn’t broken, then why fix it? Bruce has a pretty big crush on his new boss and wants to impress her. It’s a light-hearted tale of romance to say the least but Frost is consistently likeable on screen. Kayvan Novak steals a few scenes as Bruce’s witty GBF and Rashida Jones offers a feisty female protagonist. The cast is strong and the storyline, though partly flawed and predictable, is mostly enjoyable. The film’s saving grace predominantly comes in the form of some witty observations such as when Bruce describes a potential coupling with Jones as “like a butterfly going out with a parsnip”.


It’s an endearing date movie in which you root for a likeable self-effacing main character and have a few giggles as the story unfolds in spins and swirls across the screen. Will it be up there with cult British comedies like Withnail and I or say an Ealing or Monty Python offering? This is unlikely but I’m not sure that was even the intention anyway. Just don’t take it too seriously and you’ll have fun.

Cuban Fury is released in UK cinemas on February 14th.

Kerry Flint