Juanita (2019) – Summary, Review (with Spoilers)

Juanita (2019) - Title Card
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Juanita is the type of role and movie you’ll wish Alfre Woodard and her peers got to experience far more often.


Director(s) Clark Johnson
Written By Roderick Spencer
Date Released 3/8/2019
Genre(s) Comedy
Good If You Like Woman Of A Certain Age As Stars

A Focus On Native American Characters

A Film Focused On A Journey But Not Much Drama

Isn’t For You If You Want Grand, Tear Inducing Changes That Make You Reflect On Your Own Life And Choices
Noted Cast
Juanita Alfre Woodard
Jess Adam Beach
Blair Underwood Blair Underwood

Plot Summary

Juanita is a woman of a certain age and while not on the verge of a mid-life crisis, she does recognize something in her life needs to change. She’s worked at the same job for 9 years, making $12.50 an hour. Ain’t one of her three children prosperous with one in jail, one dealing drugs, and the other Juanita thinks is a ho. And things have gotten to the point her fantasies about Blair Underwood sucking her toes, and doing other acts, lead to him asking her for money.

So, after a patient dies at the hospital, she decides it is time for a change and ends up in the mountains of Montana. A place she’d never go before since Juanita isn’t a country gal. However, thanks to one Native American man named Jess, it seems she may feel the need to change her mind about some things.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. How did Jess get a hold of Randy or vice versa? Especially considering Juanita was keeping her trip on the hush?

Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs

Highlights

Alfre Woodard

Juanita (Alfre Woodard) breaking the fourth wall.
Juanita (Alfre Woodard): I have stepped into some shit.

One of the things you don’t often see for Black actresses, especially of the older variety, is the opportunity to go from crying with snot hanging off their lip to something fun like this. Most get trapped or typecast and are stuck in a certain type of role for years. So to see Woodard be foul-mouthed, a bit ghetto, yet nonetheless a lady, it gave us the kind of complexity not a lot of Black characters are afforded. Add in she wasn’t weighed down by any serious trauma and just really needed a vacation, and even in the subtlest ways, you see how this movie is an outlier you hope doesn’t remain so for too long.

Don’t Know The Age, But She Still Got It

Touching again upon the age thing, I loved the fact that even with three kids and a grandbaby, Juanita was not written or performed to be old and heading towards kicking the bucket. Now, does she have bunions and needs certain comforts? Yeah. However, doesn’t everybody and you can be young and get bunions too now.

But the real part that just had me like “AH!” was that when she met Jess, and sparks flew between them, while there was some commentary about her ethnicity, her age was never spoken. The difference between them that they needed to work out was purely cultural, and it really showed age isn’t anything but a number as long as you got the drive to live. Oh, and still enjoy sex every now and then.

A Taste of Native American Culture

Juanita (Alfre Woodard) being cleansed by a leader.
Juanita (Alfre Woodard)

Outside of Rhymes For Young Ghouls, I can’t quickly recall another movie which had a strong sense of native culture. Not to imply they get into the nitty-gritty of being a Blackfoot from Montana but you do get a sense of them not just name dropping and physically looking different. With their powwow being beyond what is usually seen with eating, dancing, and a peace pipe, you feel like you are watching something authentic, sacred, and intimate. Making it so, as Juanita walks into a teepee a stranger and is cleansed, you feel the same – of your ignorance.

On The Fence

I Wish She Kept Breaking The Fourth Wall & Having Comical Fantasies Throughout The Movie

Juanita is a hilarious woman, and between her fantasies and breaking the fourth wall in the first half of the movie, it made quite a few funny moments. Maybe not the kind which makes you belt out a loud noise, but definitely were unexpected upon looking at Juanita and what’s we’re used to. Unfortunately, though, by half way if not ¾ through the movie, this means of connecting with Juanita is gone.

Now, I should note, this aspect of the film tapering off doesn’t ruin your enjoyment, but it is like switching from having breakfast with some kind of juice or tea and then having tap water. You’ll survive, still feel full and happy, but also missing what feels like a staple.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing) | Available on Netflix

Blair Underwood trying to sell lotion in Juanita's fantasy.
Blair Underwood: Ladies, do you want to put some emotion into your lotion?

One could only hope Alfre Woodard is opening the gates so she, Viola Davis, Jenifer Lewis, and many others get the kind of opportunities to not only show up and show out but show how multifaceted Black woman are. Are they strong and put up with a whole lot of s***? Yes. Are they vulnerable, sometimes fall in love with fools and raise some as well? Yup. Yet, it is through Juanita that we’re reminded that as much as a person may fail, rise to the occasion, feel stuck, and do drastic things, it’s all about setting your mind to do something. Even if it means pushing those who rely on you to rely on themselves for a while since you only can do for them after you are happy with you.


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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Alfre Woodard
95 %
Don’t Know The Age, But She Still Got It
85 %
A Taste of Native American Culture
90 %
I Wish She Kept Breaking The Fourth Wall & Having Comical Fantasies Throughout The Movie
79 %
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New Jersey native Amari Allah takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

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