The Movie Waffler New Release Review - <i>Cuban Fury</i> | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Cuban Fury

An office -worker attempts to win his attractive new boss's affections through Salsa dancing.

Directed by: James Griffiths
Starring: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Ian McShane, Chris O'Dowd, Olivia Colman, Rory Kinnear, Kayvan Novak

As a young teenager, Bruce (Frost) was a champion salsa dancer until an encounter with a group of bullies made him pack it in, declaring "Salsa's for pussies". 25 years later, Bruce is employed in the head office of an engineering firm where he is subjected to constant mocking by his co-worker Drew (O'Dowd), a self-confessed ladies man. When Bruce's new American boss is revealed to be the attractive Julie (Jones), he immediately falls for her but convinces himself that she's out of his league. Learning of Julia's love of salsa, however, Bruce sees an opportunity and returns to the world of his childhood passion in an attempt to win her affections.
For several years now, the romantic comedy has been in a sorry state. Rom-coms aimed at female audiences (usually starring Katherine Heigl or Reese Witherspoon) have focused on the romantic aspect at the expense of humor while those geared towards a male/female combo, like Cuban Fury, have tended to be all com and no rom.
Julie may be the object of our protagonist's affections here but her character is given such perfunctory treatment it's easy to forget about her about her role in the story. Our hero Bruce spends barely five minutes of screen time in her presence, which makes his attraction seem a simple case of physical lust as opposed to anything more heartfelt. Julie is so thinly drawn that it's difficult to see what appeal she possesses beyond her symmetrical features. Is this simply a case of a guy setting ridiculously high standards for his romantic partners? Should we really feel sorry for this guy?
The villain of the piece is Drew, brilliantly played by O'Dowd, the film's highlight. He continuously stokes Bruce's ire by explicitly detailing his sexual plans for the unsuspecting Julie. But there's little evidence to suggest Bruce has any more noble intentions for Julie, a woman whose personality he knows practically nothing about. Drew may be crude about his desires but at least he's not fooling anyone, unlike Bruce.
While the film may be disingenuous with regard to its romance, its still an enjoyable diversion, thanks mainly to O'Dowd's Celtic lech (finally an Irish movie villain who isn't a terrorist),  Novak's lovable camp Persian, and the film's infectious salsa dancing scenes. The latter are a reminder of how entertaining dance scenes can be, even when those involved have varying degrees of skill, and an over the top car park "dance off" between Frost and O'Dowd is a moment of unbridled joy. 
If you're not secretly tapping your feet and wiggling your hips in your cinema seat as Frost tears up the floor with a variety of partners, you're probably dead from the waist down.

Eric Hillis