Cuban Fury marks one of the few solo projects Nick Frost has produced outside his now iconic partnership with director Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. In this film, Frost plays Bruce, a lovable teddy bear of a man who was once a child Cuban dance prodigy until disaster involving a silk sequined shirt and a couple bullies strikes. He swears off dancing for good, until Julia (Rashida Jones), the new boss at his company shares her current interest in Cuban dancing and soon Bruce is tracking down his old mentor Ron (Ian McShane) and staging dance-offs with co-worker and romantic rival Drew (Chris O’Dowd) in the parking lot. In addition to his interest in Julia, Bruce is also attempting to complete some unfinished business that includes returning to the competition stage alongside some pretty formidable professional dancers to prove once and for all his place in the Cuban dancing world.
This film is clearly a passion project for Frost, and one that he is so sincere about that audiences will become endeared to him and the story of Bruce. Frost co-wrote the film along with Jon Brown and while it trades some sharpness of wit for more tired jokes about masculinity, Frost is undeniably gifted at comedic performance. While we’re used to seeing him play the lovable dumb loaf, his comedic performance here is more subtle, and tuned down. Chris O’Dowd makes an ideal counterpart, as the hipster douche-bag, and Jones dials in a serviceable portrayal as Julia. That’s not a slight against Jones, who really isn’t given much to do (women in these kinds of stories rarely are).
I was most impressed with the dancing featured in the film, both from professional dancers and the cast themselves. Frost does nearly all his own dancing, and despite his large frame moves on the floor very well. At the very least, Cuban Fury is a celebration of dance, and the joy it brings all people, not just the pretty ones. It’s a great message to have, and it may actually outshine the all too familiar “nice guy/bad boy fight for the girl, will she pick the right one” theme, which is always a plus in my book.
I look forward to Frost venturing out further into his own comedic territory, and Cuban Fury is a safe start. I’m looking forward to what else he may have in store for us.
Cuban Fury opens today in Philly area theaters.