Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) used to be a shining light in the world of Salsa dancing. Under the tutelage of grumpy sod Ron Parfait (Ian McShane) and with his younger sister Sam (Olivia Colman) as his partner, his teenage self filled his shelves with trophies. And then, on the night of the national finals, he was cornered in a parking garage by a gang of bullies. They made him eat the sequins off his shirt, he skipped the finals, called up Ron to say “Salsa’s for pussies”, and turned his back on dance forever.
Now Bruce is a technical draughtsman for a firm that makes industrial equipment. His social life largely involves golf and running through checklists detailing their boring lives with his mates, his only buddy at work is handsome sex pest Drew (Chris O’Dowd), and his sister supplies free drinks thanks to her job as a bartender at a South Sea-themed bar. Things look grim.
The one ray of light in his life is his new boss, Julia (Rashida Jones). After a shared moment involving entangled lanyards, he’s torn between the desire to get to know her better and the knowledge she’s out of his league. Then he discovers she’s a salsa dancer – the perfect way for them to bond. But he’s a little rusty, so a trip to Ron’s sleazy bar-cum-dance school is in order for a refresher course. Turns out he’s rustier than he thought, and Drew is starting to make a move on Julia as well. Will he give up and crawl back into his hole?
The big hook to get you into the cinema here is seeing Frost dance, and he’s certainly doing enough of his own moves to impress all but the most hardened viewer. The jokes are generally solid without being spectacular – there are more funny lines than there are funny scenes – and the whole thing has the feel of a decent sitcom episode rather than a ninety minute comedy spectacular.
Frost just about gets this over the line, but this feels a little too much like a television show to make a trip to the cinema a must.
Written by Anthony Morris