Deliver Us from Eva
By David Mumpower
August 27, 2003
Deliver Us from Eva is like a bad first date. From the moment you finalize plans for the date, you spend hours upon end anticipating, expecting and fantasizing the course of events for the evening. Then, when the moment arrives, you are sad to discover that your date is shallow, spends the body of the evening relaying insipid encounters involving people you don't know, and thinks Gallagher is a talented comedian to the point that she broadly hints your second date should involve a hammer, countless melons and a lot of tarp. And none of it for the purposes of foreplay.
We missed Deliver Us from Eva in theaters, as it came out during a period of particularly poor weather for this area. We never prioritized it after opening weekend either, so despite the fact that I am a huuuuge Gabrielle Union stalker...err, fan, we never caught it in first run. Readers of this column recognize that's unusual for Kim and I, so suffice it to say I have been jonezing to see this one for over a year now. The build up was intense but the payoff was agonizingly small.
Taking a spin on the theme of Taming the Shrew, the movie tells the story of a tightknit group of sisters who have been forced to rely on each other since the death of their parents. The oldest sister, Eva, takes on the leadership role, which is fitting since she is also the most mature and intelligent of the women. This is bad news for the significant others of the sisters, though, as Eva is strong-willed to the point of being most aptly described as a tyrant. Whether it be sex, marriage or a baby, Eva has managed to stop all of her current and future brothers-in-law from getting what they want out of life.
As revenge, the guys hire Ray (LL Cool Jay), the smoothest brother they know, to seduce Eva, win her heart and keep her from interfering in the lives of her sisters. Of course, this plan has never worked in the half a millennium since Shakespeare invented it, as inevitably the man falls in love with the woman he is theoretically toying with. Sure enough, Ray discovers that Eva is a strong role model for her family and a fine Christian woman whose only crime is one of personal intensity. It helps matters that when she is with Ray, she is veritably a kitten in his lap.
The guys are less than thrilled to discover that Ray has gone back on his word and set out to manipulate the circumstances so that Eva will move away. This forces our hero to decide which team to play for, the He-Man-Woman-Haters Club or Eva. Since if he picks the latter, he gets to have a lot of sex with a scorching hot lady, there isn't much in the way of mystery here.
Cliches are nothing new to the romantic comedy genre and in point of fact, a lot of the comfort from this sort of movie stems from its formulaic nature. The key is that the leads have to have chemistry and the supporting characters have to be entertaining. Neither of those goals is accomplished here.
I am of the opinion that LL Cool J has the talent to be a lead actor for years to come, but for whatever reason, the combination of him and Union just doesn't mesh. For her part, Gabrielle just doesn't make for a believable hardass. When she tries to act tough, it comes across as just
that, acting. The effect is all too artificial to come across realistically.
Even worse is that all of the sisters and brothers/boyfriends are nothing short of dislikable. The writing is intentionally one-dimensional for these cursory characters, and that's a mistake. Since I couldn't care less about any of them, I just wanted them to go away when they were onscreen. That means I didn't like the leads together and I didn't like everyone else at all. It makes for an unpleasant movie going experience.
Gabrielle Union and LL Cool J are talented people who have a lot of great movies ahead of them, but Deliver Us from Eva is certainly not one of them. My DVD is headed for the used DVD store as soon as I get done with this review. Like a bad date, it was money poorly spent and time completely wasted.