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I'd say this movie roughly marked out the turning point in which these three major actor's careers and popularity either dived or swooped; Whoopi Goldberg (who previously won an Oscar for Ghost and then appeared in the semi-musical Sister Act), Ted Danson (with his long reign in TV's Cheers ending and had also starred in Three Men And A Baby) and Will Smith (from TV's The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air following this with a successful film career starting with Six Degrees Of Separation).

Made In America

As with many movies of this ilk, Made In America feebly attempts to lift its game above that of other screwball comedies like Animal House by adding in equally teary drama - probably to start addressing certain issues like "consequences" and "guilt" so that the characters can redeem themselves with some noble action at the end of the movie, regardless of its unsatisfyingly neat wrap-up.  This doesn't do the film any favours except maybe to use it as an actor's resume for demonstrating their abilities in portraying deep emotional character interaction within uncomfortable comedic situations.

In the end, this flick hangs its entire existence on the "Comedy Of Error" genre. Note that I did not say "Errors" since it's about twenty steps short of what Shakespeare was famous for in his musings.

Movie
Sarah Mathews (Whoopi Goldberg) is your modern day hippie who decided to have a baby long ago, but not through your average means of male companionship. Instead she used an anonymous sperm donor. The result was her lovely daughter Zora (Nia Long) who eventually wants to find out about her real father, so she devises a scheme with her boyfriend Tea Cake Walters (Will Smith) to access the computer records of the donation clinic her mother used long ago. To all their horrors, the hasty investigation reveals that Zora's father may be the town's love-to-hate used car salesman Hal Jackson (Ted Danson), who is currently dating the ditzy and very sweet blonde bombshell Stacy (Jennifer Tilly).

Made In America

Video
When I thought that things couldn't get any worse after Ace Ventura, along comes this turkey.  Whilst many other people's TVs and PC monitors may not reveal certain complications arising from a poorly encoded DVD, I must say that my trusty Hitachi 68cm television always picks up on the faults of a picture where the other Idiot Boxes simply do not.  No doubt this R4 DVD is the same one that was encoded years ago for R1 which is a 1.33:1 Pan & Scan presentation of the original 1.85:1 widescreen image.

The first thing that made me cringe behind my upturned coffee-table was the incredible amount of MPEG artifacting throughout the entire length of this movie - this crud is much worse than any of the VCDs I have created from my friend's parachuting VHS tapes - it's almost as bad as watching a badly scratched disc from the rental store, except it keeps going.  The video itself is interlaced between film-frames (resulting in a consistent blurring every so often) rather than utilising the more common 3:2 pulldown method (which ultimately proves more irritating anyway since it usually creates a slight jerking effect).

Made In America

If it wasn't for this obvious error then I would say that the colours were quite vibrant.  And if the digital artifacting wasn't so prominent I could also comment on the grain which I believe is there in some form but is ultimately lost in a sea of rogue binary digits.  The black levels though can be defined as deep but ultimately too dark for the night-time and interior scenes which could have done with much better foreground lighting to bring the characters out above the scenery (a fault of the filming conditions). Basically, this image looks really good when viewed from your next-door neighbour's house.

Audio
Surprisingly, the audio rises above both the movie and the DVD-encoding of the visuals.  Predominantly a dialogue-only movie, this Pro-Logic surround mix allows all verbal communicaé to be easily heard with music and sound effects effectively minimal but still well supported in this soundtrack.  Surround channels only provide subtle ambience to the scenery as well as occasional sparks of life when the music kicks in.  Subwoofer usage is virtually non-existent but it does help to keep the music in check.

Made In America

Extras
A static menu to help you select a scene or just play the movie ... in other words, nothing.  It also claims to have English Closed Captioning but I do not have the facility for displaying this (I assume that this is a TV-controlled subtitling feature rather than something that can be selected from the DVD player itself).

Summary
I can't say that I was at all enthralled with this film since the attempts at humour are continually brought down into water-logged retina territory.  This is one of those mismatched attempts at serious comedy which just doesn't give you the choice to either laugh or sympathise with the characters well enough.

If this no-brainer were any good, I'd recommend it.  But the fact that the visual quality suffers a fate worse than its script gives me no choice but to award it the two thumbs down.


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