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Cuban Fury review: Nick Frost does Rocky in Cuban heels

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Director: James Griffiths; Screenwriter: Jon Brown; Starring: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O'Dowd, Olivia Colman, Ian McShane; Running time: 98 mins; Certificate: 15

As the old saying goes, appearances can be deceiving. That's never been more appropriate than in the case of Cuban Fury, a homegrown romantic comedy that casts Nick Frost as a former salsa prodigy who's fallen on hard times. It may sound dubious on paper - particularly when you learn that it began life as an email pitch a tipsy Frost fired off to producer Nira Park in the dead of night. But once the drunken haze cleared, Frost teamed with screenwriter Jon Brown and director James Griffiths to produce a film that's full of pleasant surprises. This could be as funny a film as you'll see all year.

In it, Frost's Bruce Garrett trudges aimlessly through a 9-to-5 routine, occasionally sinking pints with best friend Gary (Rory Kinnear) until the arrival of his new American boss Julie (Rashida Jones) shakes him out of his slumber. Julie has a passion for salsa and, as a former teen dance sensation, Bruce realises that rediscovering the fire in his heels will help him win her heart.

There's help in the form of an old mentor (Ian McShane), a supportive sister (Olivia Colman) and Kayvan Novak's dance class pal Bejan, while work colleague Drew (Chris O'Dowd) - who has Julie in his crosshairs - serves as the smarmy villain of the piece.

Cuban Fury is a comedy that's fleet of foot and warm of heart, and in Frost it has an engaging and likeable leading man who's able to pull you along for the ride. Traditionally Frost has always worked best when teamed with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, but in Griffiths's film he's found the perfect vehicle to leap from supporting player to leading man.

Nick Frost in Cuban Fury

"This is Rocky in Cuban heels, you just need to go with it."


He underwent months of salsa training in preparation for the role, and as a result looks convincing on the dance floor as he spins and sways to the Latin rhythm. This is one of those films where you can spot every twist and turn coming a mile away, but thanks to the strength of Frost and a consistently high gag count it doesn't really matter.

Bruce is the perennial underdog, overlooked and underestimated since childhood, and Frost is the perfect hero to root for. Every good guy needs a worthy foe, so special mention should go to O'Dowd for his performance as alpha dog antagonist Drew. A thundering douchebag who fires off phrases like "drop trou" and "up insider her" with a total lack of self-awareness, he duels with Bruce for Julie's affections in the workplace and even takes him on in a dance-off that marks the film's comedic high points (and features a great blink-and-you'll-miss cameo).

Fonejacker's Novak is also on fine scene-stealing form as the flamboyant salsa lover whose presence encourages Bruce to embrace life to its fullest. Novak is Cuban Fury's equivalent of a comedy hand grenade, dropping into the movie when needed to generate instant laughs. Once you hear his recipe for "still Fanta" you'll be half tempted to brew up yourselves.

If you're able to overlook the broadly played comedy and predictable narrative trajectory then you'll find Cuban Fury a fun and entertaining 90 minutes. This is Rocky in Cuban heels, you just need to go with it.

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