Juwanna Mann Movie Review
The line flubs and other outtakes that run with some movies' closing credits are often the best part of a bad comedy, but "Juwanna Mann" is the first movie I've ever seen in which the outtakes contain all the cut scenes the movie needed to be any good at all.
This trite "Tootsie" redeux set in the world of professional basketball stars Miguel A. Nunez Jr. (he was the voodoo practitioner in last week's "Scooby-Doo") as Jamal Jeffries, a rich, arrogant, showboating, ball-hogging, tantrum-throwing NBA star who gets kicked off his team, goes broke and decides to dress up in drag so he can play in the women's basketball league. But get this: Not until the those aforementioned outtakes are there any scenes of Jamal trying to transform himself, wiggling into skirts and working on his high-heel walk.
He just shows up at a try-out for the fictitious Charlotte Banshees decked out as an unconvincing dame named Juwanna, swinging his hips and talking in a falsetto. He's offered a contract after five minutes of practice, which he signs without reading.
At this point any sensible person will begin to second-guess the movie, assuming they weren't already wondering why ESPN isn't knocking on Jamal's door looking for interviews. Or why he wasn't picked up by another team -- or by MTV, or by a sporting goods company looking to beef up their bad-boy image. But even filing such things under "suspension of disbelief" won't make the movie any better because it just keeps throwing the nonsense in your face.
"I did this for one reason," says Jamal to his agent, played by Kevin Pollack, "To get back to my team." Ummm, how is dressing up like a woman and playing in the WNBA supposed to accomplish that?
Since "Juwanna Mann" is nothing but a string of shopworn clichés -- Jamal pees standing up while in a dress, Jamal fights off the lecherous advances of a ghetto-clown rapper (Tommy Davidson) -- it's no wonder the flick sat on a shelf for two years before getting dumped into theaters. It's not just unoriginal; it's also inept, lifeless and humor-free.
Here's the caliber of jokes this movie peddles: Told by his accountant he's in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Jamal squeals "What happened to the first 10 chapters?" Hardy har har.
Director Jesse Vaughan (a behind-the-scenes veteran of "In Living Color") and screenwriter Bradley Allenstein don't display even a hint of creativity. On cue they haul out the inevitable locker room shower and slumber party scenes, cheap gags about women ballplayers being especially hairy and/or lesbian, and the one beautiful ballplayer (talented Vivica A. Fox, trapped in trash as usual) who becomes Juwanna's confidant and Jamal's love interest.
While playing with the women's team, Jamal learns to curb his sexism and his ego. He discovers the joy of the basket assist so after he's exposed as a man he can say, "you guys taught me the only way to truly shine is to be a part of a team" in the last five minutes of the movie. After that the only thing left to do is offer Fox an insincere apology for lying to her ("Look, I messed up..."), give the girl a bunch of roses and wait for her to forgive him like all stupid movie women do at the end of men-centric comedies.
Then come the outtakes, which aren't any funnier than the rest of the movie. But at least they fill in a lot of blanks in the plot.