Bullies will stop at nothing to brutalize their victims. But making a male teen eat the sequins from his salsa dance costume is one for the books. It’s also a critical plot point in Cuban Fury, an appealing tale of a sad sack who pulls himself up by his bootstraps – make that dancing shoes – to reinstate his self-worth through Saturnine self-mastery of his deepest fears.
Directed by James Griffiths, Cuban Fury describes plump engineer Bruce Garrett’s (Nick Frost) journey into psychological manhood when he learns that Julia (Rashida Jones), his new American boss he has feelings for, is a salsa aficionado. As a teen, Bruce was on the receiving end of that sequin-eating humiliation on the night of a national competition he and his sister Sam (Olivia Colman) were expected to win. As a result of the attack, Bruce was a no-show at the contest, and promptly expunged dance from his vocabulary.
Twenty years later, however, competition has once again insinuated itself into Bruce’s life via Drew (Chris O’Dowd), a sex-obsessed colleague who’s deft enough on his feet to salsa-seduce Julia.
Bruce’s dilemma – how to get his mojo back and win her over – sends him back to his former dance teacher (Ian McShane), a no-nonsense type who represents archetypal Saturn, the Great Teacher whose earthiness also also happens to oversee rhythm. The old guy has little patience for his former student’s self-doubts and starting from scratch. Fortunately, there’s Bejan (Kayvan Novak), a flamboyant student in the same dance class who’s generous with support, both emotional and cosmetic (shaving chest hair and donning silk shirts are involved).
Cuban Fury’s message and outcome are predictable: how can lovable Bruce not get the girl after working hard to resurrect his talent? But the lesson is just as much about motivation and heart as it is about discipline. As Bruce’s mentor says, “Any prick can do the steps.”
Astrology Film Rating: ♄ (Saturn)