Much of the humor in Cuban Fury comes from the constant image of a fat man dancing salsa. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Nick Frost pulls it off.
Frost, best known for his appearances alongside buddy Simon Pegg in films like Hot Fuzz and The World's End, plays Bruce, a down-on-his-luck drone who barely fits on the bike he rides to work. We learn via flashback and an opening credits montage that Bruce was one of the world's best junior salsa dances at the age of 13, until a bullying incident scarred him forever.
That is, until his hot (American) boss Julia (Rashida Jones) rejuvenates him, since she loves to salsa dance and the most rom-com way into a woman's heart is to hone the craft that you and your crush have in common.
One of the funniest scenes features Bruce drunkenly clearing out space in his apartment to practice dancing. From his perspective that night, it seems like he's being insanely productive. When he wakes up the floor the next morning, we realize that he basically just made a big mess.
Of course, we're treated to a Rocky-esque training trajectory, where Bruce works himself up from overmatched schlub to fleet-footed dancer over about 45 minutes. Chris O'Dowd gleefully sinks his teeth into the role of Bruce's slimeball coworker, who also has the hots for Julia. Also good are Olivia Colman as Bruce's boozy, loyal sister and Kayvan Novak as his effeminate salsa classmate.
Ian McShane, who plays Bruce's tough-as-a-dance-teacher-could-possibly-be dance teacher, is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it's frustrating how much of the movie he spends making Bruce play board games with him. But on the other, he makes dancing, or just the general life of a dancer, look cool.
In crap movies like Step Up and Dirty Dancing, you never get the sense that these people are actually cool. Bruce is a nerd with minimal self-confidence and most likely a cholesterol problem. But he and the rest of the characters can cut up a rug. And that is cool.
Rated R for language and sexual references.
Follow Pete McQuaid on Twitter @sweetestpete.