Made in America (1993) is a film set and filmed in Oakland. Not about Oakland per se, not simply filmed partly in Oakland, it was set here. It stars Whoopi Goldberg (Sarah Matthews), Ted Danson (Hal Jackson), Nia Long (Zora Matthews), and featured a very young-looking Will Smith (Tea Cake Walters) in his second film role. Roger Ebert said of the film, "This isn't a great movie, but it sure is a nice one." 1 It's also nice to see Oakland in a movie as just another place where people live.
There are numerous locations in Oakland and some in Berkeley where the film takes place:
- Sarah runs a shop in the Elmwood district of Berkeley, and begins the movie with an unnaturally long bicycle ride across the UC Berkeley campus.
- Hal runs a car dealership that is near the courthouse. The distinctive circular parking structure between 12th and 13th Streets is also visible in the background.
- Zora and her friend Tea Cake attend Oakland Tech, and the final scene of the movie (plus a special music number) is set there.
- Zora and Tea Cake talk during a scooter ride along Lake Merritt on Lakeshore Avenue with numerous landmarks visible.
- Hal drives up Broadway, with the Cathedral Building visible.
- During a commercial shoot, an elephant carrying Hal follows Sarah's bicycle past the Main Library, Camron-Stanford House, and into Lake Merritt.