Review: ‘Cuban Fury’ is affable but incredibly lazy (but affable)

Nick Frost busts a move on Chris O'Dowd in "Cuban Fury." Credit: Entertainment One
Nick Frost busts a move on Chris O’Dowd in “Cuban Fury.”
Credit: Entertainment One

‘Cuban Fury’
Director: James Griffiths
Stars: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

Let’s get this out of the way: “Cuban Fury” is not an original. It’s not even terribly inspired. It’s a paint-by-numbers underdog rom-com in which lumpy sad sack Bruce (Nick Frost) tries to win the heart of a woman (Rashida Jones) who looks like Rashida Jones. It hits every single note, plus old ones that feel like they were teleported from two decades ago. Not only does Bruce try to get the girl and defeat the over-the-top jerk (Chris O’Dowd), but his mate, the bro-ish Gary (Rory Kinnear), has to learn about tolerance from an old school flamboyant homosexual (the very funny Kayvan Novak of “Four Lions”).

On its face, “Cuban Fury” doesn’t seem very defensible. And yet it’s reasonably likable despite itself — or rather because of who’s in it and because it’s taken two things that don’t go together and put them together anyway: dry English wit and salsa dancing. Back and forth the film goes between fumbling, self-deprecating humor and the all-caps FIRE of DANCING.

When he was young — as we see in an energetic prologue very much indebted to Frost’s most closely associated filmmaker, Edgar Wright — Bruce was a salsa prodigy, forced by that irresistible rhythm to don questionable clothing and hoof with his every fiber. It took one bloody bullying to beat the passion out of him, leading him inextricably on a path to ignored office monkey. But when he discovers his new, hot, American boss — Jones’ Julia — likes to salsa, he decides to reawaken his dormant fury, even if that means reacquainting himself with his old, angry teacher (Ian McShane).

If there’s one important thing “Cuban Fury” lacks — along with better jokes — it’s more dancing. There’s a lot of training but only one climactic competition. Meanwhile it’s practically impossible to tell if Frost has moves, as he’s obscured (or aided) by overemphatic editing. (Directors of dance movies: Move the camera back. The dancing means nothing if the viewer can’t see head and feet — or even feet or head.)

Frost does a mean hyperbolic pose, though, and the movie gains a lot by the dumb jokes it doesn’t tell, chief among them fat jokes. Frost has always been very casual about his weight, and this is no different. He doesn’t hide it, but he doesn’t play it for cheap laughs; note that it was the very slim Simon Pegg — filing a quickie, winking cameo here — who starred in “Run, Fatboy, Run.” If you look at his CV, Frost is a very versatile actor, who can do the buddy (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) as fully as he does the uptight jerk (“The World’s End”). Playing puppydog-ish for the first time, he brings an air of dignity and relaxation to a movie that, were he not in it, would have only nice music, a few sharp supporting turns (including Olivia Colman) and one gut-busting goof on the “you took my breath away” cliche going for it.

Follow  Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Accused Boston bomber’s sister faces judge over bomb…

The sister of the alleged Boston Marathon bomber faced a judge in New York Tuesday on charges that she told her husband's ex-girlfriend she could "put a bomb where you…

National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Arts

Artist Laurent La Gamba uses cars to create…

An artist managed to make his friends and family ‘disappear’ – by blending them in with their surroundings using paint.

The Word

The Word: Amanda Bynes returns to form

You know who we haven't heard from in a while? Amanda Bynes. Well, that dry spell is over because Bynes is back! Her parents' conservatorship…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Travel

Top celebrity wedding spots from Cheapflights.com

Cheapflights.com picks the best places around the world to tie the knot like George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin. As George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wed…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…