Entertainment Movies

Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'Cuban Fury' review: Flame retardant

** (out of four)

Hollywood’s vault is lined with fish-out-of-water stories. But seriously, is it too much to ask for a premise that's more than just “fat guy dancing”?

Based on an original idea from star Nick Frost (“The World’s End”), “Cuban Fury” is a dance movie that, were it to completely lack imagination, could be expected to include a training montage, a climactic competition and a jerky co-worker. Oh wait.

Frost plays Bruce, who as a kid loved the energy and flavor of salsa dancing. Then a gang of bullies beat his passion out of him and, kinda like Butters on “South Park,” he hasn’t shaken much of anything in 25 years. Few would after being forced to eat sequins.

Future Bruce, a sexless wallflower whose only zone is one of comfort, discovers that his beautiful new boss (Rashida Jones) also loves salsa. For a moment, it’s a mashup of two subjects with which this shy guy won’t engage—women and the rhythm. But childhood trauma and Bruce’s d-bag colleague (Chris O’Dowd) be damned! Bruce looks up his salty old teacher (Ian McShane) to verify the time-honored adage about putting yourself out there.

This is a story that advocates for fire and inspiration—then almost completely goes through the motions. Aside from Bruce’s one requisite tumble, “Cuban Fury” isn’t some ruthless, cartoonish poke at its round hero’s curves. (Note that the film does not star Kevin James.) There are many sighs and a few laughs, none of which come from Bruce’s flamboyant classmate (Kayvan Novak), forced into the story for maximum ethnically insensitive sassiness.

Speaking of forced: The chemistry between Frost and Jones. Yeesh. I’m not saying these two couldn’t theoretically get together in a movie. Love is blind, dancing is an aphrodisiac and comedies frequently combine a portly schlub and a gorgeous woman who’d never be expected to give him a first (or second) look. First-time feature director James Griffiths and first-time feature writer Jon Brown simply show no confidence in this pairing, hinging their stars’ interactions around accidental collisions and—spoiler alert, I guess—preferring not to let the two even kiss.

Would anyone believe this couple would get hot and heavy? I don’t know. Bruce calls her a 10, and himself a 2. She’s remarkably beautiful and he, honestly, looks like the plump mouse from “Cinderella” come to life. But most importantly, if your movie doesn’t believe the guy should get the girl, the audience won’t either.

Watch Matt review the week's big new movies Fridays at noon on NBC.



Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.


Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 'Cuban Fury'

    'Cuban Fury'

  • Bold predictions for Lolla 2015

    Bold predictions for Lolla 2015

    The Lolla schedule is sort of like the NCAA tournament: there are millions of possible combinations, and it’s anyone’s guess what the winning picks will be. With that in mind, we make some bold predictions about how this year’s fest (returning to Grant Park Fri.-Sun.) will turn out. Breakout artist...

  • 2010 killing of Chicago cop detailed at trial; man claims self-defense

    2010 killing of Chicago cop detailed at trial; man claims self-defense

    The man on trial in the killing of Chicago police Officer Thor Soderberg hated police and surprised the officer as he changed out of his uniform at shift end and placed his duty belt down, a Cook County prosecutor alleged Monday.

  • Aldermen to hold hearing on untested rape kits

    Aldermen to hold hearing on untested rape kits

    Chicago aldermen on Monday called on police officials to provide information on how quickly rape kits are being tested by the state crime lab, part of a largely symbolic effort to determine whether a large backlog is hampering work to apprehend rapists.

  • Alderman's 'Chi-raq' criticism falls flat

    Alderman's 'Chi-raq' criticism falls flat

    A South Side alderman's effort to tweak filmmaker Spike Lee for using "Chi-raq" as the title for a movie about Chicago violence fell flat Monday with his colleagues.

  • ComEd to hold energy fairs to help low-income customers

    ComEd to hold energy fairs to help low-income customers

    Commonwealth Edison will hold energy fairs at satellite locations across the region Monday in order to get money to thousands of people struggling to pay their electricity bills in northern Illinois.

  • PAWS Chicago "Muttshots!"

    PAWS Chicago "Muttshots!"

    These adorable pups are on the loose looking for a place to call home. They have a warrant out for their arrest. Their crime? Being irresistibly cute and cuddly. If you're interested in adopting any of these dogs, please visit www.pawschicago.org for more information.

  • Wabash Lights exceeds Kickstarter goal, hopes to begin test this fall

    Wabash Lights exceeds Kickstarter goal, hopes to begin test this fall

    The designers of an ambitious plan to install colorful LED lights on the underside of the Wabash Avenue "L" tracks raised almost $60,000 in a Kickstarter campaign that will allow them to move forward with a test of the project.