Deliver Us From Eva (2003)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Feb 7, 2003 (USA)  |   Run Time - 106 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

More than just a clever title, the intelligent Deliver Us From Eva delivers the goods for those in search of an African-American relationship comedy. Writer/director Gary Hardwick does revisit some of the mild misogyny of his debut, The Brothers, in the person of Eva Dandridge, a domineering shrew who makes life hell for the boyfriends/husbands of her three sisters. But at least there's a warm comedic core to Gabrielle Union's portrayal of the uncompromising health inspector, which features some great facial expressions and sharp-tongued rants, and Hardwick makes sure he eventually reveals the reasons behind her rigidity. Hardwick also oversees a winning rapport between Union and LL Cool J, whose own less-than-ideal character -- a mercenary player -- indicates Hardwick's interest in seeing both genders get their comeuppance. What keeps the film basically subtle is that it illustrates the characters' various stumbling blocks without resorting to ridiculous set pieces or insulting caricatures. The film recognizes what works in other films, perhaps to a fault -- it goes outside its basic relationship structure to cop a few vicarious good vibes from Barbershop, as the sisters meet in a salon and interact with its eccentric denizens for no real plot reason. (And if you stay through the credits, there's a revelation about one of these characters that undercuts Hardwick's apparent enlightenment). If only the third act didn't revolve around a plot contrivance that the characters would need to take idiot pills to believe, Deliver Us From Eva might be better than just a good addition to its genre.