Sarah (Whoopi Goldberg) is an African-American woman who runs a bookstore, the "African Queen," in San Francisco. She has an adolescent daughter, Zora (Nia Long), conceived with donor sperm after the death of Sarah's husband, Charlie. Zora believes she is Charlie's daughter until she discovers a discrepancy while learning about blood types in biology class. Sarah tells Zora about her conception and Zora, determined to find out the identity of her "real father," breaks into the computer records of the California Cryobank.

She discovers the name of the sperm donor, Halbert Jackson, and tracks him down, discovering that he is a white truck salesman (Ted Danson). She and Sarah are both horrified (Sarah had requested the sperm of a black man), as is Hal, but after some comic conflict, Sarah and Hal fall in love and Zora begins to think of Hal as her father. They then learn that there was a mix up in the records and Hal is NOT after all Zora's genetic father, but by this point they have nonetheless become a family.


A fairly conventional romantic comedy, with some interesting, if oversimplified, race and culture-based complications. The sperm donation topic is largely a plot engine to bring together the seemingly unlikely romantic pairing of Goldberg and Danson and to produce some rather broad comedy about ethnicity and identity. The film never looks very closely at the implications of the issues it glances at, such as medical or clerical errors in gamete donation, socioeconomic aspects of assisted reproduction, and so on. Nonetheless, it would be of interest in the context of a discussion about recent historical and cultural changes in attitudes to assisted reproduction, donor identification, and the relationship between genetic and cultural parenting and identity.

Primary Source

Warner Brothers