Can Nick Frost do comedy without his pal Simon Pegg?
Well, yeah, sort of.
Frost can certainly do comedy, and does, in “Cuban Fury.” As to whether he’s as funny as when he’s playing off Pegg, his co-star in such pictures as “Paul” and “Shaun of the Dead,” the answer is: not so much.
“Cuban Fury,” in which Frost stars as a tubby and schlubby English cubicle drone who harbors a hidden talent for Cuban-style heels-of-fire salsa dancing, has its laugh-out-loud moments. Most, unfortunately, come fairly late in the picture. For too much of the running time, Frost’s character is stuck in hangdog woe-is-me mode, pining after a pretty co-worker (Rashida Jones) while enduring the boorish taunts of an insufferably sexist rival for the lady’s affections (played with unmodulated sleaziness by Chris O’Dowd).
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The movie treads the well-worn path that underdog-triumphant movies have trodden since time immemorial (or at least since the original “Rocky”). The hero’s underdogginess is underlined. Fed up, he decides to train. Training does not go well. At first there’s despair. But then he finds his mojo. He gets into a groove. He’ll show ’em, by Godfrey. Dial up a big dance contest.
The main source of the humor here is the obvious one: Frost’s physique. From his chubby calves to a paunch that overhangs his belt, he’s nobody’s image of a svelte salsa dancer. But persistence and pluck pay off, and his character becomes, if not graceful (never that), then confident and enthusiastic. And his enthusiasm is infectious. By the end, you’re won over.
Extra bonus: Pegg, appearing in a split-second cameo. Blink and you’ll miss him, but his fast moment is one of “Fury’s” funniest.
Soren Andersen: email@example.com