The Alfre Woodard led Juanita is a fun romantic dramedy that shows the power of leaving your environment to find yourself.
Netflix has been rolling out a lot of movies this year and one of those that you may have missed last month was Juanita. Starring Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage) the movie tells the story of a middle-aged single mom who is still providing for her spoiled adult children. She’s fed up with her surroundings, doesn’t love her job, and feels like she has missed out on living her own life. Even her fantasies (mostly involving an imaginary relationship with Blair Underwood) disappoint her in some way or another so she decides to hit the road.
Juanita features a lot of wall-breaking from the titular character, which enhances the comedic elements in the film. There are a few reasons that you, the viewer, might want to give Juanita a shot.
The movie was funny. Alfre is a powerhouse actress (as documented through her Golden Globe win, Primetime Emmy’s, and Oscar nomination) but she’s also funny.
In Juanita, she captures the essence of a fed up but loving to a fault, mother who just wants a moment to herself. In the early parts of the movie, the tone is set by how she talks to and about her children. She adores her oldest son but he ended up in prison through a “wrong place at the wrong time” situation. Her daughter had a baby young and dumps the child on her to go out, and her youngest son is a half step away from becoming a common thug. She acknowledges their shortcomings as only a mother can while still showing obvious care and concern.
The second element that makes the movie funny is her fantasies. They sometimes come out of nowhere. When she gets a moment alone suddenly Blair Underwood appears and they have an awkward encounter until life interrupts her. At another point in the movie, she has a fantasy that she’s performing a song in public, only to snap back to reality and realize it didn’t actually happen, essentially driving home the point of her life’s less fun than she clearly wishes it was.
Watching the movie I couldn’t help but think about my own mom. The intro to the film showed a quick cartoon of Juanita’s life up to the point that the movie begins. When she was young she dreamed of traveling. As she got older, she got married, got pregnant, got divorced, and then raised three kids on her own from there. She works a job she doesn’t necessarily love and is starting to feel like she never got to do anything for herself in her adulthood.
Considering the divorce and single-parent statistics in this country this is likely a relatable story for a lot of people. Juanita does a good job of creating a realistic situation that a parent could find themselves in and then delivers a nice message on the back-end.
After dramatically leaving her (adult kids) to fend for themselves, Juanita hops on a bus and heads West. She’s not sure where she’s going but it doesn’t matter, she just has to leave. Her journey takes her way out of her comfort zone but a friendly trucker helps guide her to a much more welcoming location and that’s where the real journey of self-discovery begins.
Her willingness to speak her mind lands her a job on a trial basis and she ends up figuring out she has a passion for something and that she can still pursue her own happiness. The move also has a certain effect on her kids but I don’t want to spoil the whole movie for you.
Juanita is currently streaming on Netflix.