The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
I've been thinking about Whoopi Goldberg's appeal, which is real but elusive, I think it has something to do with a directness of style. There are no false highs and lows in her performances, no flourishes for effect. She seems to respond directly to the situation at hand. This quality provides a leveling effect for "Made in America," a movie that could have been all over the map emotionally, but turns out to be surprisingly effective.
In the movie, Goldberg plays Sarah Mathews, who runs an African-American bookstore in Oakland, and is raising Zora, a daughter of college age (Nia Long). Goldberg's husband died many years ago, and Zora has always assumed he was her father. Then she discovers by accident that she was the product of artificial insemination. And in a raid on a sperm bank computer, she discovers that her biological father is a white man. And, to her horror, he's one of the biggest jerks in town, Hal Jackson, the cornpone car dealer who makes a fool of himself in his TV ads.
Zora is devastated. So is Sarah, who specified to the sperm bank that the father be black. So, when he finds out, is Hal Jackson (Ted Danson), a committed bachelor with no in terest in planning, starting, or retrospectively discovering a family.
The movie's setup is not subtle. Character touches are added with a trowel. What purpose is served, for example, by showing that the Goldberg character rides her bicycle through traffic without the slightest caution, cutting in front of cars and trucks as if they were not there? Of course that sets up her accident, which sends her to the hospital and leads to further important plot developments, but it's so goofy - such an obviously phony gimmick - that the writers should have found another way to get her to the hospital.