Juwanna Mann

Bomb Rating: 

Movies like this are why Mr. Cranky needs a raise. The gender-bending premise of "Juwanna Mann" has already been done so many times in so many forms that as soon as the movie begins, you can clearly picture the entire story through to its predictable conclusion. It's the kind of movie where the audience talks back to the screen in reaction to things that haven't even happened yet.

First-time director Jesse Vaughan was no doubt helped immensely by the fact that this movie has already been made a couple of dozen times. At the beginning of the film, egotistical basketball superstar Jamal Jeffries (Miguel Núñez Jr.) throws a naked tantrum on the court for no apparent reason, earning him an indefinite suspension. Then, in about two minutes, he loses his money, his friends, and his girl and decides that his only shot at a paycheck is to dress up in drag and join the women's league as female alter ego "Juwanna Mann."

Like most "man in drag" films, all our hero has to do to convince the world he's a woman is to jam his big hairy ass into a dress, then slap on some lipstick and a wig. In truth, Núñez is less plausible as a woman than Dr. Laura. Even when Juwanna Mann starts rebounding basketballs off his fist-sized Adam's apple and slam-dunking them with his penis, everyone from fellow player Michelle (Vivica Fox) to unwelcome suitor Puff Smokey Smoke (Tommy Davidson) is none the wiser.

And so a man joins the WNBA and thus legitimizes it. This inspiring message was likely one of the many reasons the real WNBA declined to be associated with the movie, so we're left with the "WUBA" instead and a bunch of unlikely team names as the Charlotte Deer Ticks battle the New York Mollusks for supremacy of the Tampax League.

The greatest enemy of this film, however, seems to be its own studio, which apparently released it to take advantage of the precipitous drop in basketball interest after the NBA finals. This should arm it well against a half-dozen summer blockbusters. Maybe some executive thought, "Well, if they can't get into 'Minority Report,' and decided to skip 'Spider Man,' and have already seen 'Attack of the Clones' twice, and are captured in a giant butterfly net in the theater lobby, lobotomized, and then tied to theater chair, then maybe they'll see it!" For these unfortunate souls, I have but one piece of advice for you: Juwanna run.

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