As film pitches go, ‘Nick Frost and Rashida Jones in a romantic comedy about salsa-mad industrial engineers’ sounds like it was devised during a strenuous game of stringing random words together. James Griffiths’s amiable but flat-footed debut feature sometimes plays that way too, counting on its super-game cast to feel their way through a script that, however droll in concept, is surprisingly short on clear punchlines. They do their disarming best, but the gags still raise more smiles than laughs.
Frost plays Bruce, a doleful, tubby office drone whose social life is limited to equally pathetic golfing buddies and his tiki-bar waitress sister Sam (Olivia Colman, lovable as ever in a Carmen Miranda get-up). You’d never guess that he was once a teenage salsa-dancing champion, until peer bullying drove him to abandon his passion. He’s practically forgotten it himself, until his beguiling new boss (Jones) turns out to be a bit of a hoofer herself.
All of which makes for the basis of a pretty straightforward wallflower-makes-good story – with Chris O’Dowd a welcome sideshow as Bruce’s obnoxious alpha-male rival. Well, supposedly obnoxious, though it’s hard not to feel that the more dynamic leading man is taking the secondary role here. Perhaps a missed opportunity to see Chris O’Dowd and Olivia Colman in a musical about star-crossed Morris dancers?