Synopsis: CUBAN FURY
Shamed into leaving the world of professional dance, former prodigy Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) has resigned himself to a hapless and ordinary existence. But after Bruce learns that his beautiful new boss Julia (Rashida Jones) has a secret love for salsa dancing, he decides to reignite the fire in his heels and get back on the dance floor. Unfortunately for him, Drew (Chris O’Dowd), an obnoxious alpha male coworker, has also set his sights on Julia, leaving Bruce no choice but to lace up his shoes and unleash his inner fury.
This week, to celebrate the release of Cuban Fury, the Alamo Drafthouse, Austin’s bastion of cinema, hosted one of their famed Rolling Roadshows. With star Nick Frost in attendance, an outdoor screening was held on the front lawn of the American Legion here in town. A gaggle of Cinapse writers were in attendance to provide you with not one, not two, but THREE views on the film!
As a Brit, I am only too aware of how the ‘mainstream’ British releases draw on familiar tropes to churn out productions. Echos of Notting Hill, The Full Monty
, and Billy Elliot
permeate Cuban Fury
, but it doesn’t matter. There is something to be enjoyed about a polished, familiar feeling film. People love an underdog and there is none more adorable than the (at first) bumbling Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost), who in the face of a utter asshole (Chris O’Dowd) and love interest (Rashida Jones) faces the fears of his past to reignite his passion for dance. Filmed prior to The World’s End
, which explains some of Frost’s balletic movement in that film, it is predictable at times but frequently hilarious, and a liberating experience to see a larger man shake off fears of such a public spectacle and embrace a passion.
The cast elevates the film with their charm (Frost, Jones) and in many cases their complete lack of charm; O’Dowd plays the most magnificent prick here. Ian McShane adds his usual fantastic curmudgeonly presence, and I must also make a shout out also to Kayvan Novak for a brilliant performance and also delivery of perhaps the finest Goonies reference I have ever seen. A intimate film but with a big heart, there is a lot to enjoy here. Cuban Fury is familiar and predictable, but delivered with such charm you won’t care.
I didn’t have particularly high expectations for Cuban Fury
, but if you think I’m going to turn down the opportunity to watch a dance movie with Nick Frost in it, you don’t know me very well. I should preface any further comments with the caveat that due to the outdoor location right next to a major freeway, I had a pretty hard time hearing a lot of the dialogue, so I probably missed a good bit of the funny parts. (As the oldest of our trio of writers, it’s also just possible that I’m just going deaf.) That being said, I think Jon pretty much hit the nail on the head. The plot is pretty straightforward and formulaic – guy bullied into quitting dancing, meets girl who likes to dance, starts dancing again to win her heart. This is especially true in the first half, where I felt I wasn’t seeing anything I hadn’t seen before. But the movie picks up steam in the second half and lays on the charm a little thicker, which really helps out. I THINK (again, I couldn’t hear very well and he had a crazy accent) Kayvan Novak was a great sidekick for Nick Frost, and I KNOW that the epic dance battle between Frost and Chris O’Dowd was the highlight of the movie. If you like dancing, and Nick Frost, and are in the mood for a nice little film with comedy and heart but nothing too surprising, definitely check it out.
I had bottom-of-the-line expectations for this film. I felt like I already knew what I was going to get and that the movie was totally surface value, a conception earned by the generic concept, advertising campaign, and trailer. The only silver lining was Nick Frost, and I’m happy to report that while he was good, he was only one of the things that work well in this movie. The rest of the supporting cast is filled out with talented people that are actually engaged in the material (even if said material is predictable and generic). Characters that I would normally find abrasive and annoying charmed me just enough so that their jokes pulled me in instead of repelled. Enough of the jokes land, and even the ones that don’t rarely overstay their welcome (except some from Chris O’Dowd, who was the one actor that wore on me over time, even though that was partially on purpose due to his character’s arc). There’s a few specific gags that made me laugh out loud, particularly a play on taking one’s breath away.
But you’re still getting a surface-value experience – the proceedings are fun while they last, but there’s nothing new here. It ended up as predictable as I thought, and I bet that you could guess at the whole story arc right now blindly and you’d probably be 95% accurate. There’s no real style to the way it’s edited and composed (can’t let cinema get in the way of the jokes!). All this just adds up to be a typical romantic comedy, through and through. Overall, it’s refreshing enough of a date movie purely from the comedy chops of its cast. If you wanted something in that genre, you could do way worse.
THE EVENTHosted by The Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow, Ain’t It Cool News, and eOne, the evening on the lawn of the American Legion here in Austin took on a Cuban feel. Salsa dancing on the patio, Cuba Libres flowing, and the man himself, Mr. Nick Frost introducing the film and hanging around afterwards to do a Q&A as well as ‘twirl and dip’ one lady bold enough to ask. Special thanks to the two salsa dancers who did their best to entice a bunch a film geeks to the dance floor for a dance tutorial. Three guesses who was the only Cinapse team member to take advantage.
Cuban Fury is released in the US on April 11, 2014.