They don’t make dance films like they used to. Remember the cheesiness of Flashdance, Dirty Dancing and the teen-orientated musicals with their big song and dance sequences? They now belong to an age of nostalgia and dance films nowadays tend to revolve around streetdance, competitions and talent shows – and, quite frankly, they aren’t all that.
Cuban Fury, inspired by real-life events, revolves around Bruce (Frost), a former child dance champion who gave up his passion due to childhood bullies. Now grown up, he decides to don his dance shoes once more to impress and hopefully win over his new boss, Julia (Jones).
The plot of Cuban Fury sounds predictable – there is the loser-in-love, the smart and sassy love interest and the antagonistic arsehole and the need to overcome one’s fears to seize the day. It is the concept that British film has proven to be an expert in, and after a spell of franchises and dramatic adaptations – such as Jane Eyre, The Woman in Black and Wuthering Heights – watching a British romantic comedy like Cuban Fury almost resembles a cinematic throwback to the early noughties, when Richard Curtis’s rom-coms were winning the hearts of romantics.
The main message in the film is to do what you love and be yourself; a modern cliché in itself. But combined with dance, it brings up the notion that straight men can dance without being effeminate. Certain parts of the film – mainly consisting of Bruce’s 80’s film fanatic friend Bejan (Novak) – don't really help contradict this point, but the rivalry between Bruce and his work colleague, the sleazey Drew (O’Dowd), culminate in an energetic dance-off which proves that being light-footed can be advantageous.
Frost is charming and shows that he doesn’t need Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg to stand out, and when it comes to the dance sequences, he is quite watchable. Jones is enjoyable as the independent Julia and O'Dowd, in a change of scene for him, makes a very convincing prick. It seems a shame that some of the supporting players – such as McShane’s withered dance instructor and Bruce’s drink-loving sister Sam (Colman) – don't get as much screen time as other characters, because it could have made the film more of an ensemble piece.
Charming, heart-warming and unpretentious, Cuban Fury is an enjoyably fun film. If you dig dancing with a hit of gentle comedy, this is your scene.
EXTRAS ★★★★ An audio commentary with cast members Frost, Colman and Novak (where's O'Dowd?); an almost feature-length Behind The Scenes documentary (1:04:2); the featurette Feet Of Fury (24:23), wwhich goes behind the scenes of Frost's dance training; a collection of out-takes (6:44); the mock commercial Bejan's Ball Sweat (1:04); a deleted scene (1:29); and a stills gallery.