June 11, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

Gossip-column romances spring up between Hollywood costars almost every day, yet it isn’t often you can feel the heat-let alone any true romantic vivacity- on screen. You can feel it in Made in America: Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson gaze at each other with such wanton goo-goo eyes that, despite the rattletrap vehicle they’re in, the screen just about glows. The first half hour or so, in which Afrocentric single mom Sarah Mathews (Goldberg) learns that her visit to a sperm bank 18 years ago resulted in her being impregnated by a shamelessly vulgar, good ol’ boy car salesman named Hal Jackson (Danson), plays like the pilot for a sitcom you’d never want to see. The director, Richard Benjamin (Mermaids), has an unparalleled knack for turning everything he touches into uglified camp. After a while, the garish jokes about masturbation and TV advertising give way to a connect-the-dots interracial love affair. As Sarah and Hal, drawn together by their light- skinned daughter (Nia Long), discover that they’re a perfect match, you can see every dumb twist coming 20 minutes ahead of time. Yet damned if Goldberg and Danson don’t have a loosey-goosey charm. This is the first time that Goldberg, who usually seems weirdly asexual in her funk- jam hostility, has come alive as a romantic star. She doesn’t just grin-she shoots out adoring beams. And Danson’s eyes practically cavort with pleasure, especially when he tells Goldberg (again and again) how wonderful she smells. Remember the old saying about Astaire and Rogers-”He gives her class, she gives him sex appeal”? In Made, Danson gives Goldberg warmth, and she gives him sass. The movie is a crock, but a oddly zesty one-a crock spilling over with hormones. That Goldberg and Danson would seem to have virtually nothing in common as screen personalities only adds to the demented fizziness of it all. Made in America makes you eager to see what these two could actually do with a decent script. C+

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