Movie Review: “Cuban Fury” Is Funny And Heartwarming


Review by James McDonald

Beneath Bruce Garrett’s under-confident, overweight exterior, the passionate heart of a salsa king lies dormant. Now, one woman is about to reignite his Latin fire.

Growing up in Dublin in the seventies and the eighties, I was a huge fan of an Italian comedy duo called Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. They made numerous movies together ranging from westerns and dramas to action and war movies but all of their films had a comedic element, visual slapstick, which they were notorious for. They don’t have as big a following here in the States but in Europe they are huge. I kind of look at Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as a modern-day Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. One is a big guy and the other is a smaller guy and they always appear in a lot of movies together and play well off each other. Here though, the movie belongs solely to Mr. Frost.

In “Cuban Fury”, Mr. Frost plays Bruce Garrett, an out-of-shape, emotionally dormant engineer who works at a company outside of London. He’s stuck in a never-ending slump of self-indulgent sympathy and his co-worker Drew (Chris O’Dowd), the office sexist and mysoginist alpha-male, doesn’t make it any easier for him, picking on him and calling him names in front of everybody. When the office hires a new manager, an American named Julia (Rashida Jones), Nick is instantly enamored with her and soon after, he discovers that she is a Salsa dancer. In a series of flashbacks, we see that Bruce was a Salsa champion throughout his teen years until one night, the night of the national championship, a group of bullies beat him up and ridiculed him for dancing, at which point he promptly abandoned his lifelong dream and swore he would never do it again.

Now that he is interested in Julia, Bruce knows that he must swallow his pride and try to locate his old Salsa instructor Ron (Ian McShane), whom he left stranded on the night of the national championship all those years ago and persuade him to take him back and teach him to Salsa once more. Making things even more difficult, Bruce finds out that his old office nemesis Drew, is also a Salsa dancer and he is hell-bent on taking Julia away from him. The story for “Cuban Fury” is nothing original, we’ve seen it a million times before, the nerd or the nice guy who overcomes all obstacles to eventually get the girl of his dreams but it’s the acting overall, that carries the movie and the sheer audacity of making the subject matter about a form of Latin American dancing and actually making it work.

The movie could have very easily rolled over into self-parody but thankfully, because of Mr. Frost and the rest of the likable cast, the movie works. In one hilarious scene, both Bruce and Drew decide to battle it out, once and for all by taking their lunch break in the car garage and challenging each other to a Salsa dance-off. It was the highlight of the film and there is a quick cameo from a big-name star that got the biggest laugh in the film. The story tells us that it is important to always follow your heart’s desire, no matter what it may be, whether it’s dancing, asking a girl out or simply learning to speak a different language, if you believe in yourself, then absolutely anything is possible.

In theaters April 18th


James McDonald
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