Red flags of caution should shoot up any time the strongest actor in an ensemble comedy is a former rap star with a Halloween sequel and the critically-panned remake of Rollerball on his resume. Still, LL Cool J stands apart in the relationship farce Deliver Us from Eva, and his chemistry with love interest Gabrielle Union lifts this dreadful dud out of the doldrums but can't keep it afloat.
Headstrong Eva (Union) repeatedly interferes in her three sisters' romantic relationships. Hoping to get her off their collective cases, three frustrated friends hire ladies man James (LL Cool J) to seduce the manipulative minx. But James and Eva fall in love despite their obvious differences, and everyone comes to discover that a satisfied Eva causes more problems than an irritated one.
Poorly edited and intentionally mean-spirited, Eva casts indistinguishable actors in featureless roles, giving us no one to care for. The men are selfish and needy, the women incapable of forming their own thoughts. Using everyday, interchangeable character molds (from the oversexed male to the flamboyantly homosexual hair stylist), Eva strips gender stereotypes to their ugly cores.
Individual strength, seen only in Eva, is rewarded by distrust. The film's most powerful female isn't really authoritative, but rather comes off as manipulative, frightening and hated. Simple greed motivates the rest of the characters, as James is paid $5,000 to win Eva's heart, and the buddies who hire him mainly want their share of a family trust fund the sisters share.
Union and Cool J do manage to connect in numerous quiet scenes, and their union (no pun intended) is worth watching. The film's half-hearted attempts at giving Eva depth, which occur only after she opens her doors to James, work only because Union is talented enough to sell it. A better script for these two exists, but it's not this vile pile of stereotypical trash.
It's almost unfair to rip into the insufferable Eva. This one's so bad, it exists on a whole new level of failure.
And give us this day our daily braids.