Juwanna Mann (2002) – movie review

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Miguel A.Nunez Jr, Vivica A Fox, Tommy Davidson, Kevin Pollak, Ginuwine
Director: Jesse Vaughn

Jamal Jeffries (Miguel A Nunez) is the top player in the NBA and the only thing higher than him is his attitude. He is constantly arguing with his coach, disregarding his team and always trying to get attention for himself. Eventually Jamal crosses the line at a big game, fresh from suspension, he literally strips off his team kit and storms off the court during the game. When the NBA decide to suspend his contract under the ‘Morals Clause’, his agent Loren (Kevin Pollak), who is equally fed up with his antics, dumps him while his token girlfriend Tina (Kimberly ‘Lil Kim` Jones) leaves him and due to his lavish lifestyle the bank forecloses on his assets, leaving him broke.

Jamal moves back to his Aunt Ruby’s place where a chance encounter with a sassy young female basketball player gives him an idea. Jamal with the help of his aunt transforms himself into a female basketball player called Juwanna Mann and proceeds to join the WNBA with the help of his unsuspecting agent Loren, who’s shocked when he discovers that Juwanna is actually Jamal.

Juwanna/Jamal initially crosses paths with his new team captain Michelle (Vivica A Fox) but eventually he learns to appreciate the team concept after a few hilarious and disastrous consequences. Jamal/Juwanna starts to spend more time with Michelle and his feelings for her get stronger but she has a ‘playa’ boyfriend/singing sensation called Romeo (Ginuwine) who is in his way. Just to complicate things further Juwanna/Jamal has his own admirer in the form of Rap star Puff Smokey Smoke (Tommy Davidson), who won’t take no for an answer!

Eventually Loren manages to set up a meeting with the NBA giving Jamal/Juwanna a chance to return to the league. However the meeting for his plea is set at the same time that the women’s team he plays for have their final championship game. Jamal must choose whether he will support his team or abandon them at the most crucial moment like the ‘old Jamal’ always did.

Both Miguel A Nunez Jr and Vivica A Fox give strong, convincing performances: Nunez Jr as a cocky, egotistic, macho man who learns to care about more than himself, while Fox, though a strong determined team player, can also be naïve and emotionally vulnerable thanks to her philandering boyfriend. Kevin Pollak and the other supporting cast all give memorable turns let down some what by the director Jess Vaughn, who should have given the central characters more character development. However he manages to deliver a nice little moral tale with a mixture of laughs and drama meant for light entertainment

3 out of 6 stars