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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Retro Review: Deliver Us From Eva (2003)

Deliver Us From Eva
Cast: Gabrielle Union, LL Cool J, Duane Martin, Essence Atkins, Duane Martin, Meagan Good
Genre: Romantic Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $17.5 million

Plot: Three men discover that meddling in their sister-in-law's life only makes their own lives more complicated 

'Not Great, But A Rom-Com That Delivers In Parts'

A Black African-American romantic comedy which states on the poster is from the writer/director of The Brothers, and yet what that poster doesn't mention is that Deliver Us From Eva was surprisingly executively produced by Barry Levinson - yes, the same Barry Levinson who directed Robin Williams's 1987 military dramedy, Good Morning, Vietnam and 1988's Oscar-winning Rain Man & his production company, Baltimore/Spring Creek Production. Which this is mentioned during the opening credits of the movie. 

One wonders what exactly attracted Levinson, a director who I admire, to a project such as this and lend his name to. Well, it could be to do with that this is an update or be it modern telling on The Taming of the Shrew, which was famously penned by William Shakespeare. Critically panned when it was originally released and irrespective of the comments branding Deliver Us From Eva as being a lame rom-com, in actuality, it turns out this is anything but that.

But rather I was genuinely surprised, as well as I enjoyed it to an extent. 

Going into the film, I wasn't expecting much but I also expected it to offer something that made me like it a tad more than 90% of the populist and mainstream rom-coms. 

Gabrielle Union is Eva: a young woman and a health inspector who finds herself the centre of her 3 sister's lives. She is attractive, headstrong but uptight also who will not let her 3 sisters settle for second best. She has been a mother to her siblings, ever since their mother died. LL Cool J, who is now credited by his real name James Todd Smith, is Ray: the man hired to seduce Eva and tries to win over her love. When 3 friends Tim, Darrell and Michael feel that Eva is too much of an interference in their lives with her unneeded advice, they rope in Ray Adams & pay him $5k just to get her off their backs. A scheme so vindictive that they want him to dump her as well. But as events unfold, they suddenly see that Ray is attracted to Eva and soon, the pair fall for one another. 

The tone of this movie reminds me of America's Sweethearts with its screwball- like elements, which wasn't something I expected, especially the opening 15 mins. It doesn't function like a typical rom-com structurally, even though it still has the tropes. Still speaking of Julia Roberts rom-com films, the opening musical scene to Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell's 'You're All I Need To Get By' is reminiscent to ''Wishin' & Hopin'' in My Best Friend's Wedding. Has the writer taken a cue from these films or something? Come to think of it, it's like America's Sweethearts mixed in with My Best Friend's Wedding and The Proposal. 

The comedy, whilst it wasn't laugh out loud funny, was modest and still good and I think it is good that it was restrained and toned down. But there were times where the story dragged and this took me away from the film. & the scene where Ray is kidnapped and chained up in a warehouse, all because they believe he double-crossed them was a bit far-fetched. But hey, if this thing actually happened in The Taming of the Shrew, it makes a lot of sense I suppose.

The supporting cast did well, whilst LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union held the film together. In her first leading role, Union shows that she should have landed more rom-com starring roles; that and she oozed screen presence and charm aplenty. Her character performance was a bit like Sandra Bullock's turn in The Proposal who starts off as being catty and b****y and gradually loosens up and is more loving and empathetic. I did recognise the remaining support cast in Essence Adkins (Smart Guy), Duane Martin, Mel Jackson, Meagan Good. LL was LL and is his usual self and never overplays it. 

The ending was a little on the corny side but that aside, Deliver Us From Eva was all right and rather decent.

Final Verdict:

It's not fantastic or wonderful, although even with this effort as I watched it, I expected one special scene, which never materialised. Nevertheless, still, this was pleasing and easy on the eyes as a rom-com, despite the cursing. I'm not a fan of this genre, and yet still there was enough in this movie for me to enjoy to say I could withstand and tolerate it. 

Deliver Us From Eva is worth recommending to rom-com fans, although those looking for a romantic comedy film that is different & yet who aren't into these movies and with less of the lovey-dovey stuff, I would say this is a reasonable option.


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