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Universal Bows Laughs With ‘Pak'

21 Dec, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Universal Studios Home Entertainment Feb. 1 (prebook Dec. 21) is breaking open the comedy vault with Playa Pak ($39.98), a four-DVD collection featuring contemporary African-American performers Taye Diggs, LL Cool J, Bernie Mac, Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut and Deon Richmond, among others.

Marketed for release at the start of Black History Month, the four films — Deliver Us From Eva, The Best Man, How to Be a Player and Trippin' — would appear to offer more entertainment than social enlightment without embracing the usual urban cliches, including gangbangers, guns, drugs and violence.

Trippin' will also be available separately on DVD for $12.98.

In Eva (2003), Gabrielle Union (Cradle 2 the Grave, Bad Boys II, Breakin' All the Rules) as the title character is in charge of her younger sisters since the death of their parents in a car accident years ago.

Maternal, yet with a harder-than-nails persona, Eva over time alienates her sisters and their husbands to the point that they recruit cash-strapped ladies man Ray (LL Cool J) to distract her from their goal of dividing up the family trust fund that Eva oversees.

Extras includes commentary from director Gary Hardwick (The Brothers), deleted scenes, Cool J's “Paradise” music video, soundtrack and “This Very Moment” music video from K-Ci & JoJo.

In Best Man (1999), Diggs (UPN's “Kevin Hill”) plays a commitment-shy writer — about to release a new novel — who reluctantly agrees to be best man at the wedding of two friends.

At the wedding party, Diggs' character, Harper, is reunited with several college friends, including Lance (Chestnut) and the always hot Jordan (Nia Long) — all of whom play a part (unknowingly) in his less-than-flattering novel.

As the wedding approaches, the scandalous secrets begin to surface, threatening the wedding and friendships.

Directed by Malcolm Lee (Undercover Brother), the DVD includes production notes, soundtrack, cast and filmmaker biographies and trailer.

Bernie Mac plays support to actor Bill Bellamy (Any Given Sunday, Narc), whose character, Dray in How to Be a Player (1997), has an insatiable appetite for women that inspires wannabe attempts from his buddies and plenty of comeuppance from his sister and her girlfriends.

Directed by Lionel Martin, How to Be a Player includes cast (including Elise Neal, Max Julien, Jermaine Hopkins and David Pierre) and filmmaker biographies and theatrical trailer.

Finally, Richmond (“The Cosby Show,” “Sister, Sister”) plays teenager, Greg Reed, who's too busy trippin' in Trippin' (1999) to get a grasp on reality and life.

Directed by David Rayner, Trippin' also stars Donald Adeosun Faison (NBC's “Scrubs”) and Guy Torry (“Def Comedy Jam,” and host to a new comedy series reviewed elsewhere in this section), who together as Greg's friends help him to discover he can make good things happen for himself.

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