By People Staff
Updated May 09, 1994 12:00 PM

Larenz Tale, Joe Morton, Suzzanne Douglas, Glynn Turman

This movie means well, and that’s its problem. A black Summer of ’42 crossed with The Jeffersons and Good Times, it keeps hitting all the wrong notes while striving earnestly to hit the right ones.

Set in 1976 (that time of billowing Afros and flaming-orange double-knit pantsuits), The Inkwell tells how an introverted 16-year-old (Tate) blossoms socially and learns some hard truths about life over the course of a two-week summer vacation with well-to-do relatives on Martha’s Vineyard. Although the movie is determinedly heartwarming and its message about finding one’s self and respecting differing points of view is commendable, 22-year-old Matty Rich has directed this way too broadly, like a TV situation comedy on overdrive. This should be a sensitive coming-of-age story; instead, you keep expecting Jimmie Walker to jump on screen and bray, “DY-NO-MITE!” The cast, which includes such talented actors as Morton, Turman and Mary Alice, does its best but can’t overcome the basic tonal incongruities. (R)