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.]
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 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.”
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.
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.
Heigl couldn’t even buy this sex appeal. They’re playing pool, by the way. Totally safe for work!
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.
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.
Please forward to the end of the credits for a hilarious reveal about one of the secondary characters.
Hint: It might involve one of these hairdressers…