Made in America (1993) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Ostensibly, Made in America is about a girl's search for her father. A brilliant young black woman finds out quite by accident that she is not her father's biological daughter, but the result of artificial insemination from an anonymous sperm donor. When she uses her guile to break the sperm bank's cloak of anonymity, she finds out that her dad is not only a stranger, but a white guy! Specifically, it is Sam Malone from Cheers, playing a Southern Bohunk version of Sammy this time, as an Oakland car dealer who relies on outrageous animal stunts in his obnoxious TV commercials.
I started by saying "ostensibly" because that was where the movie began, but not where it proceeded. It turned out to be a sentimental romantic comedy in which the young girl's biological parents (big Sammy Malone and Whoopi Goldberg) actually fell in love, after never having met before.


Jennifer Tilly's character (probably a body double), did naked cartwheels, as seen from the rear. (Sexy, but very blurry)

You can tell from the description and the reviews (mixed, tending toward the negative) that the film is not a work of great merit. The film tries to cook with a difficult recipe of slapstick farce and delicate romantic comedy, sautéed in sentiment and spiced with some social satire which derives from the whole black/white thing. That was much too ambitious an undertaking, and 111 minutes was about 20 minutes beyond my fanny-tolerance level for this kind of film, but I watched it all the way through without the fast forward button, so I guess it all seemed worthwhile to me on balance, but it seemed to be seeking the adolescent girl market.

Sure enough!

Here are the IMDb breakdowns:

Females: 5.3, Males: 4.4.

Under Eighteen: 6.3, 18 or older: 4.5.

After having noted that, I guess it's only fair to add that there is no reason why you should object to your daughter watching this movie, since the values espoused by it are sensible and tolerant. In fact, you could watch with her, and the film has a broad enough appeal that you won't hate it.

DVD info from Amazon

  • no widescreen

  • no features - not even a decent menu. There is a picture of the Warner Brothers logo, and two buttons for the choices: "play film", and "scene selection".

The film does have some pretty good moments. Ol' Sammy is pretty funny and even touching as the crass extrovert whose insensitive glad-handing exterior masks some loneliness and sensitivity. He did fairly well in the emotional scenes with Whoopi and the girl, but he really excelled in the funny scenes with the animals, and the screenwriter came up with some clever ways to show how his TV commercials incorporated all kinds of flubs seamlessly into the final footage, as if it had always been meant that way.

I have to tell you, though, that even though Whoopi and ol' Sammy did become an offscreen item, I had some problems with Whoopi Goldberg as a romantic lead. She's intelligent and funny, and she does have a certain charisma, but I just can't picture anyone electrified with desire for her, as Big Sammy was supposed to be in this film.

The Critics Vote ...

  • General panel consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 2/4.

The People Vote ...

  • It was a minor hit. It grossed $44 million in the USA and $60 million overseas.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. It's watchable, but don't go to any trouble to seek it out.

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