December 20, 2014

Film: Cuban Fury is Light on its Feet

 

Nick Frost has plenty of charm in headline role.

PHOTO COURTESY OF EONE FILMS

Film: <i>Cuban Fury</i> is Light on its Feet

Nick Frost as “Bruce” and Rashida Jones as “Julia” in Cuban Fury.

Yes, it’s about salsa dancing. Sure, it follows the ubiquitous boy-tries-to-get-girl format. For as many tropes as there are punchlines, there aren’t too many films that have the appeal and charm of Cuban Fury. In 1987, a young Bruce Garrett was dancing his way to the national salsa dance title until bullies took his Corazon. Twenty-five years later Garrett (Nick Frost) is out of shape and out of love until he meets Julia (Rashida Jones), his new boss who also happens to have a penchant for salsa dancing.

With Drew (Chris O’Dowd) desperately trying to add another notch to his belt, Bruce turns to his estranged coach (Ian McShane) to put a new spring in his step. The film’s simplicity completely works. So many current films have either a convoluted plot (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) or no plot whatsoever (Non-Stop), that one told efficiently is certainly, yet sadly, refreshing.

Credit to Jon Brown for creating characters that are fun and relatable with room to breathe. Director James Griffiths keeps the film brisk while allowing enough depth to keep the audience emotionally invested. We all know Bruce is going to get the girl but Griffiths keeps it in (sort of) suspense as to how. Funny, self-deprecating and surprisingly realistic, Frost stretches beyond the pudgy second banana he’s known for. He certainly carries the film on all levels and hopefully the actor will get a more definitive lifting regimen.

While effervescent and bubbly, Rashida Jones continues to do Rashida Jones stuff on screen leading to a growing concern for typecasting. Be it Cuban Fury, I Love You, Man, or The Big Year, Jones plays the same role. It’s cute to watch but Celeste and Jesse Forever was also good. The same applies to O’Dowd albeit slightly more positively. As O’Dowd plays the same role in a one-note fashion, the actor plays different shades of clichéd roles. O’ Dowd is a solid second banana and has some of the better jokes in the film.

Equal parts funny and inspirational, Cuban Fury is prime time for date night.n