Made in America has the distinction of being better than the last movie involving a sperm bank, Frozen Assets, though at times the humor – overplayed to nearly shrill levels – seems to come from the same test tube.
The plot has Zora (Nia Long), a high-school honors student, discovering her mother Sarah (Whoopi Goldberg) conceived her after her father’s death using a donor from a sperm bank. Zora finds the name of Hal Jackson (Ted Danson) – a Cal Worthington-like car salesman who cavorts on-air with elephants, bears and chimps and turns out to be white. Hostile toward each other at first, an unlikely relationship develops between Hal and Sarah.
In an effort to bring Sarah and Hal’s relationship to a crisis point, the action [from a screen story by Marcia Brandwynne, Nadine Schiff and scripter Holly Goldberg Sloan] suddenly veers into a heavy-handed, semi-serious mode that doesn’t mesh with the screwball opening. If there’s chemistry between Danson and Goldberg, it’s certainly not allowed to unfold adequately or with any sense of pacing in the script. The race issue, for example, quickly dissipates.
It’s the supporting players who end up stealing much of the film, particularly rapper Will Smith as Zora’s nerdy friend and a golden-locked Jennifer Tilly as Hal’s airheaded aerobics instructor girlfriend.