Deliver Us From Eva
Eva (Gabrielle Union) is a pill. She’s bossy, sarcastic, and condescending. Although her three younger sisters are adults with husbands or boyfriends of their own, the very single Eva still runs their lives as if they were little girls. In a literary state of mind, one might recognize her as a spirited Shakespearean type — Kate in ”The Taming of the Shrew” or Beatrice in ”Much Ado About Nothing” — who will meet her match in a gentleman strong enough to wrestle a lady into releasing her hidden gentleness. In a Cosmo state of mind, one might recognize her as someone who needs a good boinking.
As directed by Gary Hardwick (”The Brothers”) from a screenplay by Hardwick, James Iver Mattson, and B.E. Brauner, Deliver Us From Eva goes the Shakespearean route, assuming ”Shrew” were an African-American comedy (the boinking is off camera). And Petruchio becomes Ray Adams, played with calm charm by LL Cool J. (The gig also bills the actor-rapper by his given name, James Todd Smith.) At first romancing Eva for a fee — her sisters’ men want somebody to get the girl off their cases, and Ray is famed for his reputation as a ladies’ man — the attraction turns real. Then other, unremarkable sitcom problems arise to fill the final third of the story. Many of them are resolved in a beauty salon where the sisters, a sex-hungry mama of a hairstylist, and one honorary girlfriend of a gay employee high-five and ”mmm-hmmm” each other.
Union, who looks so chic and can talk so bitchy-funny, doesn’t so much establish a character as roll out a series of attitudes. That’s all she’s called on to do. That’s all anyone is called on to do: Be very tame, and make much ado about zilch.