Juwanna Mann

on June 21, 2002 by Paul Clinton
   A ghettoized "Some Like It Hot" set on a basketball court, "Juwanna Mann" settles for more hip-hop attitude than laughs.

   After an obscene stunt gets him banned from the NBA, celeb baller Jamal (Miguel Nunez) tries out for the WNBA as Juwanna. As a way to pay his bills and get back at the agent (Kevin Pollak) who dumped him, Jamal turns Juwanna into a star player. As he tries to blend in as a woman in a woman's world, Jamal falls for teammate Michelle (a breathy and sultry Vivica Fox, in the Marilyn Monroe role).

   Writer Bradley Allenstein peppers the script with a lot of lame locker-room jokes that appear on the horizon long before they hit the screen. Allenstein also wants his movie to "say something" about Jamal's egoism. Jamal (who uses tired lingo like "I got game" and "I got it goin' on, dog") must be brought down from his self-aggrandizing perch to be a team player. But Allenstein isn't a satirist, so a lot of the preaching comes across mushy and awkward rather than biting.

   When the movie isn't preaching humility, it drones on as a dime-a-dozen sports movie about teamwork and winning the big game.

   Nunez fits into the role better than expected; the actor's high cheek bones and rounded facial lines give him a solidly femme look as Juwanna.

   Tommy Davidson, as a goofy rapper with a mouthful of gold, is the highlight. Davidson, long overlooked as one of the funnier members of the "In Living Color" sketch-comedy show, gleefully sinks his teeth into a familiar caricature. Kim Wayans also shows up as one of Juwanna's teammates. Starring Miguel Nunez, Vivica Fox, Tommy Davidson and Kevin Pollak. Directed by Jesse Vaughan. Written by Bradley Allenstein. Produced by Bill Gerber, Steve Oedekerk and James G. Robinson. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language and sex-related material. Running time: 90 min

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