Comedy joy knee-skids into the cinema (★★★ Directed by James Griffiths)
Gentle comedies with hearts of gold are few and far between these days.
If it’s not the slightly surreal make-believe of Ron Burgundy, it’s the cringe-worthy antics of Bad Grandpa. Sure they get the laughs and the wry nods, but where’s the joy?
Apparently it’s doing a knee skid across the dance floor in sweet, Britcom laugh-fest Cuban Fury.
Dowdy human marshmallow Bruce (Nick Frost) loves lathes, his fold-up bicycle and his quiet, little life working for an engineering firm somewhere in middle-England.
But Bruce hides a terrible secret – back in the day he used to salsa dance, he used to salsa dance real good.
It’s a flamboyant, rhinestone encrusted past he’d happily forget were it not for the arrival of the lovely Julia (Rashida Jones), an American engineering executive whose favourite pastime involves men in 11/2 inch Cuban heels and a dance named after a dip.
Desperate to impress and to save Julie from the slimy attentions of office nemesis Drew (Chris O’Dowd), Bruce pulls on his dance shoes only to find his twinkle toes in need of a tune-up.
But as the competition for Julia’s affections, and dance-floor dominance, heats up, Bruce realises the person he really wants to impress isn’t Julia, but someone else entirely.
There’s plenty of second hand embarrassment to be had in Cuban Fury, its nestled in nicely with some real warmth, genuine chuckles – Frost’s signature pop culture references are frequent and great – and smoking hot dance moves.
There’s even a whiff the classics about it, with nods to ifStrictly Ballroom nfin the design and underdog-makes-good storyline, but the tone is less dramatic and more slap-stick.
As with many warm-hearted comedies, the real gems are in the supporting cast – Kayvan Novak as dance fanatic and make-over master Bajan is stand out, as is Rory Kinnear channeling Karl Pilkington as Bruce’s cynical, vulgar best friend.
They bring out the best in Frost, who’s a capable, if one-note, leading man.
Sadly there’s not a lot of spark between him and Jones.
Cuban Fury still works a treat though, since the romance of the film is in the central themes of being true to yourself and the old adage that the best revenge is living well.