This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
"Making It" is a curiously unfinished movie. It has all these serious things to tell us about youth, age, the generation gap and growing up in upper-middle-class America. It sneaks up and whispers them in our ear. And just when we're nodding in agreement, the movie gets embarrassed and changes the subject, and we're watching a cheap comedy situation or a sight gag. Like the adolescent it's about, "Making It" has an inadequate attention span.
The strange thing, though, is that a fundamentally good movie seems to be trying to break through the B.S. My guess is that James Leigh's novel ("What Can You Do?") and Peter Bart's screenplay were so uncompromisingly serious that the filmmakers got scared. So they hedged their bet by throwing in easy laughs, stock gag situations and one-liners.
The result is a movie with an awfully uncertain tone, and tone, I'm becoming convinced, is one thing a good movie has to have. You can't do a TV situation comedy scene for 15 minutes and then cut straight into a terribly, terribly serious scene where a son arranges for his own mother to have an abortion. It won't work; it certainly doesn't work here.
There's an admittedly funny scene, you see, where the young hero lures a girl to a trailer park, breaks into an unoccupied trailer, stage-manages a candlelit dinner with wine and shrimp curry (fortified with pot) and then seduces her. The scene works splendidly on its own level. But it doesn't belong in a movie where the girl thinks she's pregnant but isn't and then the boy's mother's fiancé is killed in a car crash and the mother's pregnant. These are too many changes for a movie to go through in, say, 45 minutes; if we were laughing before, what do we do now?