'Cuban Fury' (R)

In the ’80s, when he was a young lad, Bruce heard the siren’s call. More likely, it was Gloria Estefan’s call. The “rhythm is gonna getcha,” and it did. As a teen, he danced salsa with his sister Sam all over England. They won contests. He was a devil in Cuban heels and spangly pants — Cuban Fury.

But then the teenage bullying got the best of him, and “the fire in my heels, it just went out.” His dance teacher (Ian McShane) was crushed.

Decades later, gravity and the British diet have caught up with him. Bruce (Nick Frost of Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) doesn’t dance and barely exercises. He works as an industrial machine designer at an engineering firm, is still bullied and has only his fellow losers, drinking and golfing buddies, for comfort.

“Have you had any contact with a member of the opposite sex in which money does not change hands?” is their weekly query.

But there’s a new single woman at work — his American boss (Rashida Jones). She is approachable and ever-so-fine. If only Bruce could keep her out of the arms of the office Irish Lothario (Chris O’Dowd). If only Bruce wasn’t “a 2. She’s a 10 … It’s like a butterfly going out with a parsnip.”

If only they had something in common. Oh, but they do.

Cuban Fury is a quite funny if entirely predictable farce built around the sight gag of portly Frost kicking up his heels on the dance floor. He is the latest in long line of graceful men of girth, a nimble comedic butterball. And this film is a giggle of a showcase for him, a silly romance that surrounds him with an over-the-top villain (O’Dowd of Bridesmaids), an over-the-top dance guru (McShane, who was born to wear tan in a can), and a quirky-cute and accessible Jones.

O’Dowd makes a wonderful creep, given all the lines a ladies’ man would ever need to scare off the competition.
“Women like that use guys like you to get advice about guys like me.”

McShane’s dance teacher, Ron Parfitt, runs a dance studio and salsa club long past salsa’s expiration date (Dancing with the Stars brought it back). He wants to see Bruce back “in a pair of 1 1/2-inch heels.” He wants him quoting Cuban crook Tony Montana from Scarface.

“Say HELLO to my leetle friend!”

He wants him to remember that yoga has nothing on salsa when it comes to cutely-named positions.

“Arms of an eagle! Legs of a stallion!”

As juicy as his support is, it is Frost who totes this formula funny business across the finish line with sweaty skill and aplomb. We believe he can dance. We believe he must dance.

And thanks to him, we can even believe the parsnip has a shot with a butterfly. If only for 90 minutes.

Cast: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, Iam McShane.
Director: James Griffiths.
Screenwriter: Jon Brown.
An eOne entertainment release. Running time: 98 minutes. Vulgar language, sexual references. Playing at area theaters.