This week is Juwanna Mann. I vaguely remember this film coming out and being appalled. Didn’t seem to make sense that anyone, anywhere thought it was a good idea and I was like 14. This makes it perfect for the comedy entry in the Aiiirrrrbbbaaallllll! cycle. In Juwanna Mann we have a plethora of active (at the time) NBA talent featured. Rasheed Wallace? Vlade Divac? Dikembe Mutombo? Yes, yes, and yes. Ball don’t lie, baby. Ball don’t lie. For those keeping track, Juwanna Mann is indeed part of the (366) Days of Bummer. June 21st in the books. Yay! Let’s go!
Juwanna Mann (2002) – BMeTric: 37.4
(This trajectory makes sense because the movie came out in 2002, so the number of votes were still in the initial rise a few years later presumably. Despite a rather drastic increase in the IMDB rating (4.0 to 4.5 in the last three years, why?), the score has settled in quite nicely at around 40, which is what I would expect I think.)
Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – Egocentric basketball star torpedoes his own career and no one in the NBA will hire him – until he disguises himself as a woman and joins a female team. Naturally, he’s attracted to one of his colleagues – and predictably, he suffers a crisis of conscience as the experience turns him into a better man. This is Tootsie light – or is it tootsie dark? Similarities to that classic comedy are superficial at best. Several real-life sports figures appear as themselves.
(That “tootsie dark” joke is a little passé Leonard. I would say he should scrap that one in future editions but there are no more future editions. Too late. “Several real-life sports figures appear as themselves” is the most important takeaway from all this.)
Trailer – https://youtu.be/LfGnspMWpUY
(Woah. That starts off with some really bad jokes. Like the stamp joke seems to belong in a spoof and not a film that purports to be set in a real world. And then he’s dancing with some twins and he yells “I got to rethink cloning.” I love the use of the word “rethink” in that joke. The implication being that Jamal has thought long and hard about the biomedical ethics of the process… but then these hot twins got him all confused! After that I blacked out and didn’t get to see the rest of the trailer. I presume it’s pretty much the same as Big Momma’s House.)
Director(s) – Jesse Vaughan – (BMT: Juwanna Mann; Notes: A 27-time emmy award winner (mostly news and sports) before directing his one and only feature film in Juwanna Mann)
Writer(s) – Bradley Allenstein (written by) – (BMT: Who’s Your Caddy?; Juwanna Mann; Notes: This entire thing is fascinating. Here’s an article about Juwanna Mann. Basically it seems like Vaughan got attached because Allenstein knew Steve Oedekerk, who worked on In Living Color with Vaughan. I have a feeling they were attempting to do this on the cheap hoping for a fast and decent return.)
Actors – Miguel A. Núñez Jr. – (Known For: The Return of the Living Dead; Life; Lethal Weapon 3; Black Dynamite; BMT: Juwanna Mann; Scooby-Doo; Street Fighter (seen it); The Adventures of Pluto Nash (seen it); Meet Dave; Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (seen it); Leprechaun 4: In Space (seen it); Notes: Was at one time a telemarketer for the Lakers. Was cut out of Lethal Weapon where he had a fight scene with Mel Gibson.)
Budget/Gross: $15,600,000 / $13,670,733 ($13,802,599 Worldwide)
(So close to breaking even! Surprisingly there is little of interest in the actual release numbers. Not the worst release ever, but not very good.)
Rotten Tomatoes: 9% (8/83), With its tired premise, Juwanna Mann’s jokes fall flat.
(This is the saddest RT consensus I’ve ever seen. Couldn’t even get up enough to throw a cheesy pun at us? Unless “fall flat” is a play on words… is it? I don’t think it is… but is it? Nah… or maybe… nah.)
Poster – Double Basketball Photoshop Nightmare
(This may be the worst poster we have had since we started including it in the email. Dear God. Everything I hate is included in this one. Avert your eyes, it’s hideous. Why is he standing on a giant basketball? Why is everyone perched upon the title like clipart? Why isn’t Juwanna Man in the center of the poster? Is it because his head would hit the bottom two names? WHY ARE THERE SEVEN PEOPLE LISTED ON THIS POSTER?! I’M LOSING MY MIND)
Tagline(s) – The only way he can stay pro, is to play (like) a girl. (F)
(Oh my God! Could this film from concept to advertising campaign represent the nadir of filmmaking? I can’t even read this with a straight face. It is awful. Was this film a tax scam or something?)
Notes – Kevin Pollak has said that when he signed on to the film, Will Smith was set to star. (haha, in what universe do you live Kevin Pollak?)
Tyra Banks was originally cast as Michelle Langford. (alrighty then)
Chris Tucker turned down the lead role. (good for you Chris Tucker)
Found a full section on this film in the book “Sports Heroines on Film.” Spoiler Alert! Gives away the fact that Juwanna Mann gives an impassioned speech to his teammates in the film! Which is like an anti-spoiler. Makes me even more excited.