Criticism

Deliver Us From Eva

“I guess it’s only fair that black audiences are now bombarded with the same inconsequential fluff that’s been aimed at white moviegoers for years. There’s not a lick of dramatic heft in director Gary Hardwick’s Deliver Us From Eva, but, then again, there wasn’t any in Two Week’s Notice or Just Married, either. And, with competent performances by a breezy cast and a notably fresh concept, Eva is actually better than those films…”

all-about-eva-2

All About Eva

LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union serve up a new-fashioned romantic comedy

From its early roots in Blaxploitation, black cinema has evolved from a slate of gang- and ‘hood-related “race films,” most of which confronted serious urban issues, to a fully realized genre representing any number of black experiences. It’s a situation that mirrors the progression of queer cinema, which now encompasses much more than the overwrought “coming out” and “AIDS” dramas of a few decades ago. Which is, of course, a good thing. Inspired by the films of John Singleton and Spike Lee, ever-increasing numbers of black filmmakers are tossing their hat into the ring.

What does this mean for the average viewer? Nothing too serious…literally. Frothy comedies – once the sole property of mainstream (i.e. “white”) Hollywood – have come to rule the genre. Sure, every now and then you get a heavyweight contender, but for every Antwone Fisher, there’s a Barbershop 2 and My Baby’s Mama (both real, by the way) waiting in the wings.

I guess it’s only fair that black audiences are now bombarded with the same inconsequential fluff that’s been aimed at white moviegoers for years. There’s not a lick of dramatic heft in director Gary Hardwick’s Deliver Us From Eva, but, then again, there wasn’t any in Two Week’s Notice or Just Married, either. And, with competent performances by a breezy cast and a notably fresh concept, Eva is actually better than those films, as well as the dozen or so others just like them released over the past few months.

Gabrielle Union plays Eva, a bitch on wheels who sacrificed her own ambitions to raise her three younger sisters after their parents died when she was 18. With no life of her own and little tolerance for what she sees as the relentlessly foolish antics of men, Eva takes perverse pleasure in interfering with the lives of Kareenah (Essence Atkins), Bethany (Robinne Lee) and Jacqui (Meagan Good), who adore and respect their older sister in a way only characters in a movie like this can. Perched atop her soap box with an odd statistic always at the ready, Eva runs her sisters’ affairs with the precision of an air traffic controller.

Naturally, Eva’s constant meddling hasn’t endeared her to the men in her sisters’ lives, who would like nothing more than to rid themselves of their Godzilla-in-law once and for all. They see an opportunity to do just that when Ray (LL Cool J), a notorious ladies man, returns to town. Pooling their money, Mike (Duane Martin), Tim (Mel Jackson) and Darrell (Dartanyan Edmonds) offer Ray $5000 to romance the hard-boiled Eva, in order to distract her from her self-appointed familial duties.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Ray and Eva will eventually fall for one another, or to predict the unpleasant complications that will ensue as a result. Like any featherweight romantic comedy, it’s all about the chemistry between the leading man and lady, and the sparks that fly between Union and LL Cool J threaten to give a jolt to anyone watching them.

The gorgeous Union (who looks exactly like what Janet Jackson might have looked like, had she not had whole Granny Smith apples implanted into her cheeks and her nose surgically pinched) displays flawless comedic skills as she alternates between Eva’s hysterically self-righteous tyranny and her bubbly infatuation with Ray. For his part, LL Cool J perfectly embodies the superfine, smooth talking “masta playa,” licking his lips and cocking his head with each hilariously suggestive line.

Although the story ultimately becomes too far-fetched for its own good, things are resolved in a tidy, two minute conclusion that ties every impossibly loose end together in a neat, if implausible, bow. The message – that all an uptight woman needs is a man to make her happy – won’t win the heart of many feminists. Still, the amusingly predictable antics are good for a chuckle two, even if you won’t remember why you laughed a few hours later.

A regular contributor to Gay City News, Michael Rucker also writes for In Touch Weekly and HX Magazine. 

(Appeared in Gay City News)
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