Usually I am not overly fond of romantic comedies; I prefer films with action, with hardness, with a spot of erotica; a film with some heft. But something struck me about Deliver Us from Eva. Perhaps it was the presence of the very talented Gabrielle Union, or perhaps it was because the movie is based loosely on William Shakespeares timeless comedic play, Taming of the Shrew, albeit with a soulful, sassy twist reminiscent of the black romantic comedy films of the last decade.
Written by Gary Hardwick (The Brothers - 2001) who was a television writer before penning the lackluster romantic-comedy The Brothers, Deliver Us from Eva rolls thusly. Beautiful, passive-aggressive Eva Dandridge (Gabrielle Union, Bring It On 2000, The Brothers 2001, Cradle to Grave -2003, Bad Boys II -2003) is a constant hurricane force in the lives of her three attached sisters, in which meddles and controls with gleeful, spiteful abandon. Her sisters Kareenah (Essence Atkins, Love Song 2000, Looking Through Lillian 2002), Bethany (Robinne Lee, The Runaway 2000, National Security 2003, 13 Going On 30 2004) and Jacqui (Meagan Good, Eves Bayou 1997, The Secret Life of Girls 1999, Biker Boyz 2003, You Got Served 2004) dont seem to mind the attention, because the women have always been a close-nit family unit depended upon Eva for guidance after their parents died when Eva was but 18.
The men in the three sisters livesTim (Mel Jackson, Soul Food 1997, DAG 2000), Darrell (Dartanyan Edmonds, Thin Line Between Love and Hate 1996, Woo 1998), and Mike (Duane Martin, White Men Cant Jump 1992, Scream 2 1997, Woo 1998, The Groomsmen 2001)on the other hand, fiercely resent Evas habitual meddling in their private affairs. Her constant browbeating, shrill demeanor, icy insults, and total disregard for their place in the sisters lives have left them desperate for relief from Eva. As one of the men quips, Eva is an "evil nasty sister that beats a brother down till he's dust." And oh yes, Eva is also an inspector for the L.A. department of Public Health, and is universally despised by the cities restaurateurs.
Tired, frustrated and realizing they may never be free of Evas influence on their lives, the men enter into a contract of sorts with a "master player" named Ray (LL Cool J, Wildcats 1996, Woo 1998, Any Given Sunday 1999, Charlies Angels 2000, S.W.A.T. 2003), in which they will pay him $5,000 to date Eva so she devotes less time to them and their affairs. After a predicable chilly beginning the relationship grows feet. All goes smoothly until Ray falls in love with Eva and feels a need to confess all, much to the consternation of the three men.
While Deliver Us from Eva is not a movie I would have shelled out $7.00 to see on the big screen, it was perfect for a Saturday night full of ho-hum television and rolling thunderstorms which dumped enough rain in my backyard to float an aircraft carrier task group. Along the way to the finish I found myself laughing out loud; not those superficial polite, oh-that-was mildly-amusing kinds of laughs, but the deep hardy belly laughs that can bring water to the unsuspecting eye.
And though I felt true chemistry was somewhat lacking between Gabrielle Union and LL Cool J (whose name reportedly stand for Ladies Love Cool James), their courtship was fun to watch and slightly unpredictable. Ms. Union turns in a fine performance, while LL was just a bit too cool, and lacking in emotional luster. All of his lines were delivered in that same smooth cadence, even when speaking to his benefactors. There was no nuance, no range, and no part of his character that compelled me to care a wit about him.
Eva, as evil, mean-spirited, and manipulative as she was, found a soft spot in my heart; as portrayed by Ms. Union, I could feel her pain underneath the bravado, the longing for understanding, love and acceptance in the beautifully slightly upturned almond eyes of Ms. Union.
While not Oscar material Deliver Us from Eva is fun, and funny; not deep and preachy but light and airy requiring little reflective thought. And thats okay, because on occasion the brain needs a rest. When all was said and done and the credits rolled, I felt like the movie was time well spend in front of the tube.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
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