|Last week, if you had told us that there was a worse movie in the world than Scooby Doo, we'd have laughed in your face. Now we know better, and never has the phrase "sadder but wiser" had such resonance. We have given a name to our pain, and that name is Juwanna Mann.
The name alone makes you want to cringe, doesn't it? And then there's the premise, that worn-out, tired premise of "man cross-dresses; yuks ensue." It's been done to death, from ancient Greece to Shakespeare to Tootsie---and in every single instance, it's been done better than in Juwanna Mann.
This time around (yawn), the milieu is pro basketball. Star NBA player and enfant terrible Jamal Jeffries (Miguel A. Nunez) has been thrown out of the league for a courtside Full-Monty display. He can't play anywhere and loses his bling-bling, his girlfriend and his agent. He hits rock bottom, but then a chance observation leads to an epiphany: Hey, women can play ball! Who knew?!
Exit Jamal; enter Juwanna, complete with concrete-like matte makeup that never allows a drop of sweat to escape, on-again-off-again North Carolina accent and a lecherous eye for her WNBA teammates. As Juwanna, Jamal falls for the team captain (Vivica A. Fox), fends off a clueless male suitor (Tommy Davidson) and Learns a Very Important Lesson (Teamwork is Good). Which is all very nice for him, but awful for the audience that actually has to watch it.
For one thing, there is not one single original moment in Juwanna Mann. Nope, not a one. When the team is dishing about men, one woman expresses her wistful desire for "the kind of guy who'll send you flowers---" Even as we thought, please, God, don't say 'just because it's Wednesday,' she continued, "---just because it's Wednesday." Appallingly, this very line is repeated later in the film, both in writing and in voiceover---like it wasn't cheesy enough the first time around.
You can feel every stupid plot point a mile away, from the urinal scene to the captain's discovery of her boyfriend's cheating to the loathsome motivational speech at the end. (During that scene, we had fond flashbacks to Deep Blue Sea, and couldn't help but hope that the opposing team's mascot was a genetically-enhanced shark.)
Charmingly, Juwanna Mann takes place in a logic-free zone: after hearing, early on, that dunking is illegal in the WNBA and a subsequent scene where her agent almost has a coronary worrying that Juwanna will dunk, she shatters a backboard with a fierce dunk during a playoff game---and everyone's pretty much okay with it. Also, Juwanna's team isn't disqualified from the playoffs despite the discovery of their rather serious infraction.
What's even worse is that the miscreants behind Juwanna Mann have stated that they believe their film has something to do with a man learning about women. But it's too busy reinforcing every half-assed idea men have about "what women want." Juwanna feels her teammates up on a regular basis and doesn't receive so much as an, "Are you hitting on me or what?" Speaking for our entire gender: flowers-because-it's-Wednesday we can take or leave; what we'd really like is for creepy guys to get their goddamn paws off of us.
However, we'll settle for a moratorium on stupid drag comedies. That way, everybody wins.