Deliver Us From Eva (2003)

Deliver Us From Eva (2003)
Deliver Us From Eva (2003) DVD / Blu-ray

By: Jenna Zine (Two Beers) –
How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Evangeline “Eva” Dandridge (Gabrielle Union) is the uncompromising leader of the Dandridge family, a role she took on, as the eldest, after the four sisters lost their parents in a car crash at a relatively young age. Eva’s siblings adore her and follow her advice without question. The adoration causes a lot of problems for the sister’s respective mates, infringing on all areas of their lives. The guys come to believe that single, demanding Eva is the cause of all their woes. They hatch a plan to hire playboy Raymond “Ray” Adams (LL Cool J) to romance Eva, believing they’ll get her off their backs if she’s distracted by romance. Their plan goes off without a hitch, until Ray does too good of a job, and the men find themselves now being compared to Ray. Hijinks ensue!

[Review contains spoilers.]

A Toast

Deliver Us From Eva is a modern retelling of the Shakespeare classic, Taming of the Shrew. Gabrielle Union is hilarious (and stunningly beautiful, as always) as the harsh Eva, spewing directives at her brothers-in-law with the accuracy of a sharpshooter. The guys roil with resentment, but are terrified to challenge her.

The tipping point finally comes when Eva’s control reaches the bedroom. Kareenah Dandridge (Essence Atkins) decides she can’t yet try for a baby with sweet husband Tim (Mel Jackson) because Eva’s shared a statistic that most married couples split at the five-year mark; Kareenah and Tim have only been married for three. Jacqui Dandridge (Meagan Good) repeatedly staves off the advances of husband Darrell (Dartanyan Edmonds) because she’s trying to focus on school. She sees all that her oldest sister has accomplished and strives to do the same, eschewing cuddle time with Darrell for constant studying. Youngest sister Bethany (Robinne Lee) won’t even let fiancé Mike (Duane Martin) spend the night because of Eva’s high standards. Eva would never settle for “letting someone get the milk for free” and she refuses sleepovers with Mike due to the same logic.

So who better to distract a gal and sweep her off her feet than LL Cool J? The ladies love cool James for a reason – he’s the complete package of a suave gentleman combined with perfect boyfriend material, while being wildly hot. Eva, consider yourself tamed! Of course LL does too good of a job at the lovin’. Did anyone expect anything less?

ll poolside

LL Cool J, excelling at his job.

The cast is tight and believable; the camaraderie amongst the actors is evident. Everyone shines in his or her role. It’s difficult to pick a favorite, as all have deft comedic timing. It’s hard to believe the guys were able to keep straight faces when delivering such lines as, “You’ve embezzled the booty. That’s like stealing from your job!” Or, “You can take a rain check on kissing my ass later.” And, “You came in here like DMX and now you’re Babyface.”

eva and the husbands

Here’s the deal. I’m going to tell you what to do, and you’re going to do it.

I love this film because it starts off with a unique premise, Ray’s funeral, and the story is then told in reverse. (Don’t worry; Ray’s not really dead. The beleaguered males kidnap him so they can get back to their lives, free of Ray’s shadow. Does the plan backfire? Umm, yeah!)

I also love that every detail is attended to. The film starts out with Kareenah, Bethany and Jacqui, resplendent in fashionable 50’s garb, dancing with their husbands to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s tune “You’re All I Need To Get By.” The end shot is a gloved hand closing a vintage photo album, a nod to the opening sequence. Horses are also themed consistently throughout the plot, from the dream job at a stable Eva gave up to take care of her sisters, to the décor in her house, and, of course, the fairytale happy ending. The mysterious opening of the funeral scene wraps around and is included the film’s finale. The surprising funeral aspect helps steer the plot away from the traditional formula of a romantic movie, though all the elements are inevitably there.

Beer Two

Deliver Us From Eva is a solid rom-com. It gets the second beer for the cheese factor and the somewhat clunky ending, but it’s still a hundred times better than the dreck you’ll get from Katherine Heigl.

gabrielle & ll

Heigl couldn’t even buy this sex appeal. They’re playing pool, by the way. Totally safe for work!

Verdict

a2Beers

Delightful fare for the rom-com enthusiast that includes some fun twists. It doesn’t hurt that the viewer gets to stare at Gabriel and LL for 105 minutes.

 

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Eva bosses around one of her brothers-in-law.

Take a Drink: every time one of the sisters does a 180 with her mate, thanks to Eva’s intrusive advice.

Take a Drink: every time Eva and Ray go horseback riding.

Take a Drink: every time the sisters gather at the salon.

Take a Drink: every time LL Cool J busts out those dimples.

 

Last Call

Please forward to the end of the credits for a hilarious reveal about one of the secondary characters.


the hairdressers

Hint: It might involve one of these hairdressers… 

About Jenna Zine

Jenna Zine is a writer, unashamed Bachelor franchise live-tweeter (with Felix Felicis at @2Girls1Recap), lapsed drummer, and occasional standup comic. She's probably somewhere right now complaining about her bangs. Find more at www.jennazine.com

3 comments

  1. I watched this film tonight. Black films like this are filled with stupid dialogue and predictable plots. This film only gives empty entertainment at best, which is barely forgivable. A few good scenes offer very little consolation. And then we wonder why black films never win Oscars. This movie is an example of a weak and watered down script that movie executives continue to put out. They know that critics like you except predictable, typical behavior on the screen by black actors that are way more talented than what these piss poor characters portray. Black people must raise their inspection standards when it comes to the big screen just like Eva’s job in the movie. You should judge all movies based on top quality acting and creative writing. Why do you put your stamp of approval on garbage that continues to stink to the Hollywood Heavens? Let’s do a film burning and lay characters like Ray to rest for real. With every black film that I see like this, it reminds me that the prayer of the black culture needs to start by saying.. Lord, deliver us from another bad acting Eva.

  2. Hi Manny –

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I think you make an important point. I do have to say that I judged this movie not as a “Black film” but rather as a rom-com. (Though I can see that my case is weak, since it was showcased as a review during Black History Month.)

    To that end, I feel that my assessment is fair. As far as rom-coms go, this is definitely a 2 Beer rating, in my book. Romantic comedies are notoriously rife with trite dialogue, predictable predicaments and stereotypes. That said, it’s a genre I totally love. I think “Deliver Us From Eva” is an awesome rom-com – and a triumph because it’s a straight-up comedy vs. a “black film.” It’s a movie that showcases a very talented cast of lead actors who happen to be black. Throw Katherine Heigl in Eva’s role and cast Josh Duhamel as Ray and the story still works, regardless of color.

    I think it’s unfair to ask black actors to only take Oscar caliber roles. Talk to anyone who loves romantic films about “Love Jones” and how important it is to the genre. It didn’t win an Oscar, but it’s still recognized as one of the greats. Regardless of color, actors want to act and that should include a wide variety of projects.

    I agree that cinema has a really long way to go – but it’ll be a great day when we’re simply discussing the merits (or lack) of a film vs. the color of the cast.

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