Deliver Us from Eva [2003]

At a time when theaters were clogged with insipid romantic comedies for a predominantly white audience, Deliver Us from Eva offered a smart and sassy alternative. It's another variation of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, beginning when Ray (James Todd Smith, a.k.a. LL Cool J) accepts a $5,000 challenge to seduce Eva (Gabrielle Union), an alleged man-hater who dominates her three sisters and the men in their lives, who are desperate to be "delivered from Eva." It's a sitcom plot from start to finish, with no real surprises. What lifts Eva from its potential doldrums is the sensible negotiations that emerge between the would-be lovers, and a sharp screenplay that allows Ray and Eva to arrive at a mutual understanding that's richer and more mature than most comedies would bother to allow. By giving its characters an opportunity to show their truly attractive colors, Eva is delivered to us, claws retracted, and ready for love. --Jeff Shannon

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