Mitch Singer

A career woman is forced to reassess her priorities when she meets the anonymous sperm donor who sired her son in "And Then Came Love," scripter Caytha Jentis' flat, post-feminist cocktail of remixed cliches. The uninflected, charmless helming of Richard Schenkman ("Pompatus of Love") leaves competent actors striving mightily in a void, held together by the sheer force of will of star Vanessa Williams, who is rarely let offscreen. Shrill romantic comedy, skedded to open today at Gotham's Clearview Chelsea, is unlikely to propagate much interest.

A career woman is forced to reassess her priorities when she meets the anonymous sperm donor who sired her son in “And Then Came Love,” scripter Caytha Jentis’ flat, post-feminist cocktail of remixed cliches. The uninflected, charmless helming of Richard Schenkman (“Pompatus of Love”) leaves competent actors striving mightily in a void, held together by the sheer force of will of star Vanessa Williams, who is rarely let offscreen. Shrill romantic comedy, skedded to open today at Gotham’s Clearview Chelsea, is unlikely to propagate much interest.

Williams plays Julie Davidson, a brisk, no-nonsense writer for a premier urban magazine. She has a 6-year-old son, Jason (Jeremy Gumbs), by artificial insemination; a gay best friend, Stuart (Stephen Spinella), who works as a theater critic; and an absentee b.f., Ted (Michael Boatman), a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who is usually off trotting around the globe.

But when Jason starts acting out in school, everyone around Julie tries to convince her he needs a daddy and she needs a hubby, which has been the constant refrain of meddlesome mother Mona (Eartha Kitt, adding her own inimitable spin to her improbable role as the upholder of old-fashioned family values).

Opting to transfer responsibility for her son’s poor behavior onto his unknown father’s genes, Julia sets out to track down Mr. X. Enter Paul (Kevin Daniels), an aspiring actor, self-professed loser and hunk many years Julia’s junior. Though unaware of the truth, Paul immediately bonds with Jason, who sticks like glue, while sexual sparks freely fly between mommy and daddy.

Triangular casting is uneven. Daniels makes a charmingly energetic, wonderfully self-deprecating younger man, but as rival Ted, Boatman wavers uneasily between nice-guy blandness and world-weary sophistication. Williams convincingly sells the script’s concept of a snappish, driven career woman with her own brand of understated sexual energy.

Pic boasts occasional flashes of authenticity, mainly in conversations between Julia and colleague/confidant Stuart, the only character exempted — by dint of professional irony and sexual orientation — from hyperactively blurting out lines as if goosed by an offscreen prompter. Schenkman’s stop-and-start direction lacks any sense of rhythm or continuity, so characters often seem to enter and exit from nowhere, required to continually reaffirm their reason for being on camera.

Tech credits are threadbare. Audio mix, though clear, seems badly undernourished.

And Then Came Love

Production

A Fox Meadow release and production, in association with ABC Film and Video. Produced by Caytha Jentis, Verne Mattson, Anthony J. Vorhies. Co-producers, Nancie Ellis, Sashi Balooja, Maggie L. Harrer. Directed by Richard Schenkman. Screenplay, Caytha Jentis.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Timothy Naylor; editor, Richard LaBrie; music, Rebecca Lloyd; production designer, Mary Frederickson; costume designer, Deborah Medeiros Baker, sound designer, Georgia Hilton; casting, James Calleri. Reviewed at Magno 2, New York, June 11, 2007. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Vanessa Williams, Kevin Daniels, Michael Boatman, Jeremy Gumbs, Eartha Kitt, Stephen Spinella, Eileen Alana, Ben Vereen.
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