Movies like Brown Sugar, The Best Man, The Brothers, and Two Can Play That Game ó aimed squarely at middle-class Black America ó are just as formulaic as those that target urban hip-hop audiences. But Deliver Us from Eva, from The Brothers director Gary Hardwick and featuring Brothers star Gabrielle Union, rises above genre conventions and manages to be a likable comedy with LL Cool J proving he has leading-man chops by creating genuine screen chemistry with the talented Union.
In this apparent nod to Jane Austenís Emma, the usual Mars/Venus tiffs are played out against the requisite lite-soul soundtrack with some emotional gravitas. And the headstrong, independent Eva isnít the caricature of the ball buster. Sheís feisty and formidable, a no-nonsense health professional tough enough to be offered a city inspectorís job in Chicago. She and suave Ray complement one another, and when their relationship hits the inevitable bumps, itís easy to sympathize with both of them. Except for the mandatory man-hungry, trash-talking gal and her gay sidekick in the neighborhood beauty parlor, the filmís characters are surprisingly multi-dimensional. Sure, there are plenty of sassy wisecracks like " Messed-up men? Thatís redundant! " But at its core this film is kind to players on both sides of the gender war. (105 minutes)