Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Juwanna Mann

Posted By on Wed, Jun 26, 2002 at 12:00 AM

There’s nothing more satisfying than watching a spoiled brat get a nice, hard spanking. But what if that spoiled brat happens to be one of the top-scoring basketball players in the NBA? And, no, this isn’t the Michael Jordan story.

Just coming off a six-day suspension hasn’t put a dent in Jamal Mann’s (Miguel A. Nuñez Jr.) King Kong-sized ego; he’s still just as insulting and full of himself. Mann decides to show his fans every inch of his talent by tossing his jock strap onto a hapless game-goer’s hot dog as he dances across the seats in his birthday suit. The league has finally had enough, and Mann is indefinitely suspended — not even the Clippers want him. He loses his job, his fair-weather girlfriend and all the “bling bling,” having to move into his Aunt Ruby’s house after he files Chapter 11 — “What happened to the first 10 chapters?”

Jesse Vaughn’s first feature directorial escapade is comprised of two-dimensional Disney characters, that is until Jamal concocts an unoriginal cinematic scheme and transforms himself into Juwanna Mann, the newest arrival to the Women’s Basketball League’s Charlotte Banshees. Then the whole film turns into a gender lesson, and not a bad one at that.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all guys got a taste of what it’s like on the other side of the bra? Whether it’s because Juwanna joined the team without any “star” reputation following alongside her hairy legs or because women’s expectations of other women are higher than men’s expectations of each other, the Banshees will have none of the brash-crass prima donna Juwanna. Instead, they give her a rude-awakening kick in the cross-dressing ass.

Although Jamal’s process of transformation into Juwanna is pretty much ignored, Nuñez as “woman” works. He mixes an aggressive femininity with a slight Southern lilt — like a Tennessee Williams character on steroids — adjusting and softening facial gestures, and later, attitudes. The film’s most hilarious and ironically gratifying moments are between Nuñez and Tommy Davidson (“In Living Color”) as Puff Smokey Smoke, a rap arteest who takes a liking to Juwanna. Like a gold-toothed dog that starts humping, Smoke is the epitome of male-sexual idiocy and will not be detoured from the “woman” he lusts over.

Overall, Juwanna Mann shoots you with typical shtick in drag, and a few insights that cross genders as they experience the joys of passing the ball.

Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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