Goldberg and Danson Deliver Mixed Results
"Made in America" starts as one thing as a young girl discovers that not only that the man she thought was her father wasn't but in fact her father was an unknown sperm donor. It builds up this farce as the young girl who is African American discovers that her father is white and so the comedy flows from this unlikely situation. But then "Made in America" transforms from being this farce into a rather dull romantic comedy as the girl's mother and her sperm donor father end up falling for each other. And because it changes track and becomes a rather limp romantic comedy "Made in America" ends up less than memorable except for some heavy handed jokes and Will Smith bringing a character not too unlike the "Fresh Prince" to the screen.
Zora Mathews (Nia Long - Premonition) has always believed that the man she called dad was just that but during a science lesson she discovers that her blood type doesn't match up to either her mother's or her father's. Questioning her mother Sarah (Whoopi Goldberg - Ghost), Zora learns that she actually came from a sperm bank and with her best friend Tea Cake (Will Smith - 7 Pounds) set about discovering who her father really is. What she discovers is not what she expected as both her and her mother are proud African American's but according to the sperm banks computer system her father is Hal Jackson (Ted Danson - 3 Men and a Little Lady), a white car salesman.
Whilst not in the least bit realistic as young Zora discovers that her father happens to be the tall, less than clever and white Hal it is amusing. And for about the first half an hour "Made in America" is a funny movie with various scenes playing to the unlikely situation of Zora having a white father something which her mother Sarah is not happy about being a proud African American. Although funny it has to be said that the comedy isn't classy and joke after joke is handled in such a clumsy manner that more of them fail than succeed in making you laugh. But watching Whoopi Goldberg go off on one at Ted Danson is funny as are the various looks of astonishment as all the main players discover the truth. Plus in one of the funniest scenes in the entire movie we have Will Smith as Zora's friend Tea Cake going to the sperm bank and talked into making a deposit.
Sadly whilst the farce of the situation is not enough to sustain the whole of "Made in America" the fact it drifts off into romantic comedy territory is a bit of a cop out. I suppose it could have worked having Hal and Sarah falling in love after such an antagonistic start but surprisingly there is little chemistry between Goldberg and Danson. It all feels a little awkward and unbelievable although the over the top making out scene is quite amusing. But that doesn't stop it from being an obvious romantic comedy with an expected big twist to mess things up which feels like it has come out of the soap opera text book. And that twist also means that we have to have the big happy every after and quite cringe worthy ending.
As such "Made in America" doesn't quite work and as already mentioned the chemistry between Goldberg and Danson just doesn't materialise. And whilst that is an issue so are their performances because both deliver the same sort of thing they have done elsewhere. Goldberg is the straight to the point proud African American and Ted Danson delivers a variation on Sam which he played for so many years in "Cheers". Maybe if they hadn't been playing almost stereotypical characters it could have been much better but what we get is performances which feel natural but also feel too familiar. As such it is the performances of Nia Long and Will Smith that end up the most memorable and whilst Smith basically gives us a bit of a nerdy take on his "Fresh Prince" character it is good fun and he does deliver most of the movies funnier moments.
What this all boils down to is that "Made in America" starts well but ends up a rather run of the mill and quite limp romantic comedy. The comedy surrounding an African American finding out that her father is in fact white is amusing if a little heavy handed but it ends up being the best part of the movie with the actual romantic comedy being quite average which isn't helped by the lack of chemistry between Goldberg and Danson.