This is the kind of British rom-com that sneaks up on you when you least expect it and leaves you with a huge smile on your face at the end. It's not particularly clever or sharp, but it's packed with terrific moments that grow on us. And the characters are particularly engaging, making far more of the film than its one-joke gimmick: fat man dances salsa.
Nick Frost plays Bruce, a chubby office worker who was a salsa champion as a child but turned his back on dance after some nasty bullying. Now he learns that his sexy new American boss Julia (Jones) is studying salsa herself, and her flirty manner suggests she might be interested, against the odds. Especially since swaggering office rival Drew (O'Dowd) is after her. So with the encouragement of his sister Sam (Colman), Bruce looks up his old mentor (McShane) and gets to work. His fellow lonely-hearts pals (Kinnear and Plester) think he's nuts, but encourage him. And he finds an unlikely ally in over-eager fellow dance student Bejan (Novak).
Both predictable and rather implausible, the plot certainly isn't what holds our attention here. It's the colourful people on-screen, each played to perfection by a gifted cast. Frost holds the film together with a lively performance that's surprisingly never played as a comedy of embarrassment (he can actually dance). Jones is clearly having a ball, even if generating any real chemistry with Frost eludes her, while Colman lights up the screen in a small role. And the shameless scene-stealers are O'Dowd, as a sleazy low-life straight from The Office, and especially Novak in one of those side-roles that becomes a comedy icon. We want to see a spin-off about him.
All of this gets off to a relatively slow start, with few laughs and only mildly amusing situations, but as the story progresses it gets a lot funnier and ultimately shamelessly crowd-pleasing. By the end, this is the kind of feel-good comedy we long to see every weekend: undemanding but genuinely endearing. And it might give us a flicker of hope that, even if we've given up on our childhood dreams, it could be worth giving things another go. There's certainly no reason to just sit around being lonely: get out there and tango!
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th April 2014
Box Office USA: $90.3k
Distributed by: eOne
Production compaines: Big Talk Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Fresh: 43 Rotten: 42
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: James Griffiths
Producer: James Biddle, Nira Park
Screenwriter: Jon Brown
Starring: Chris O'Dowd as Drew, Ian McShane as Ron Parfitt, Rashida Jones as Julia, Nick Frost as Bruce, Rory Kinnear as Gary, Olivia Colman as Sam, Ben Radcliffe as Young Bruce, Isabella Steinbarth as Young Sam, Steve Oram as Security Guard Kevin, Alexandra Roach as Helen
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