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Juwanna Mann

(2002) no stars Pg-13
91 min. Warner Brothers. Director: Jesse Vaughan. Cast: Miguel A. Nunez Jr, Vivica A. Fox, Tommy Davidson, Kevin Pollack, Kim Wayans.

This god-awful comedy rips off the classic Tootsie up and down, Southern accent and all, in a particularly egregious and shameless manner. It's enough to make Kevin Pollak scream, "Somebody kill me!" but I suppose that was in the script.

Carefully avoiding all logic and credibility (and aiming straight for dishonesty), Juwanna Mann tells the story of flamboyant and arrogant pro-basketball star Jamal Jeffries (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.), who--after inviting suspension with a temper tantrum turned indecent exposure--reinvents himself as women's league basketball star Juwanna Mann. You'll never guess what happens after that, so I'll give you a hint. It involves falling in love, awkward showers, and elaborate apologies.

First-time screenwriter Bradley Allenstein coasts on gross-out juvenalia (my notes include the words "belching, farting men's room scene," but luckily I've blocked out the details). I'd say the movie was slow to spark if it ever sparked; it's boring and painfully unfunny (the comic high point is Jamal's joyful discovery that he can legitimately grab ass on the court). Besides being witless, the script laughs at cause and effect; in just one of countless offenses, the Charlotte Banshees are allowed to finish their championship season after star starter Mann is revealed to be a male ringer (need I mention that even a myopic manatee could point out Mann's true gender?).

I'm not sold on Núñez--who's alternatingly shrill and earnest here--but Juwanna Mann definitely wastes Pollak (as Jeffries's agent), Vivica A. Fox (as his ball-playing love interest), Tommy Davidson (as annoying rapper Puff Smokey Smoke), and Kim Wayans. The requisite celebrity cameos mark time until Núñez's laughable climactic speech spells out his lesson. The slapdash direction by neophyte helmer Jesse Vaughan includes bleeped F-words which appear to be the seam-showing result of a last-minute bid for an audience-friendly PG-13 (juwanna bet there's some locker-room nudity on the cutting room floor?)

In a desperate, last-minute bid to provide value, Vaughan provides deleted scenes during the end credits. To add value to the DVD, perhaps they could just delete the movie.

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