Movie review: Cuban Fury
Laurel & Hardy. Dolce & Gabbana. Ant & Dec. Individuals who are forever linked by their body of work as a duo. Another set that would fit nicely into this group would be Pegg & Frost. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's careers have been entwined since their time together on the cult TV show Spaced that aired in the late nineties.
Since then they have appeared in numerous things together, most notably in their cinematic Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End).
Of late however, Pegg has gone all Hollywood and that, by sodding off to appear in the Star Trek reboots as Scotty.
Not taking this monumental snub too much to heart, Frost has decided that if Pegg can go solo, so can he. And what better way to take out your frustration with someone than out on the dance floor.
Lathes aren't particularly sexy machines, but Bruce (Frost) is content working for a company that makes them. He had a real passion as a youth though, and that was for dance. In his teens, along with his sister Sam (Olivia Colman), the pair would lose themselves in the throbbing beats of Salsa. They were good at it too. So good in fact that they won tournaments up and down the country.
The night they were to take part in the nationals however, tragedy struck. Bruce was attacked by a gang of bullies, where they stomped his dreams of further Salsa success out of him. The years effortlessly slid by, without Bruce ever having a second thought about dancing, until Julie (Rashida Jones) arrived on the scene.
American Julie joined Bruce's company as the new boss, and her attractive qualities aren't lost on him. Nor on his friend and work colleague Drew (Chris O'Dowd) as it turns out. The thing is, he thinks that she is ever so slightly out of his league. When he learns that she enjoys dancing – and salsa in particular – Bruce decides that it's time to dust down his Cuban heels in a vague attempt to win Julie's heart. He may well be rusty, and step on a few toes, but he's willing give it a go or dance trying.
There's a definite TV theme that runs throughout this project: obviously Spaced put Frost on the map, as did The IT Crowd for O'Dowd and Jones for both The Office and Parks and Recreation; its writer Jon Brown has written a number of both Misfits and Fresh Meat, and its director James Griffiths makes his film debut after directing a number of episodes of comedies Free Agents and Matt LeBlanc's Episodes. And yet all their small screen experience comes beautifully together for this endearing big screen comedy.
Frost blossoms without his usual sidekick Pegg, and takes centre stage with confidence and a noticeable screen presence. He may be a tad hefty, but he makes this fairly larger chap's journey across the dance floors a credible one, like a Billy Elliot with a belly.
O'Dowd is a more than capable replacement for Pegg, offering a slightly darker character than usual and clearly enjoying the opportunity to do so. And although it feels a little odd to have an American leading lady, Jones manages to fit in with the dancing mayhem around her just right.
Director Brown does a swell job of getting the whole rhythm of the film spot on, making it one of the sharpest and brightest British comedies in years.
It may take two to tango but Frost and his dancing partners bring on both the heat and the laughs all to the tune of a wicked salsa beat that dances up one helluva comedic storm. It may bring up one question though in regards to Frost's usual comedy partner and his role in their careers going forward - Pegg who?
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