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  • I almost considered passing up watching this one, but I'm glad I didn't. This movie has all the hallmarks of a bad afterschool special, actually four or five of them smashed together. But just when you think it's about to fall off a cliff of cliches, something unexpectedly intelligent happens. Just when it's about to turn into a tear-jerker, the director puts her camera, almost joyfully, above the rain to show everyone shielding themselves with the church program. Just when you think it's going to turn into a soppy love story, the characters flee from each other, scared out of their minds at the possibility. Just when you think it's going to be a soap opera, Mandy Moore acts her way out of the paper bag that people seem to pigeon-hole her into. You get the idea.

    The actors all do well, especially Allison Janney, who puts a real edge to a role that could have easily been mush. I must admit, though, Peter Gallagher, usually a reliable guy, doesn't do much with his aging hipster role. The real joy here is Moore. She's got just enough stuff to hook you into the story, and she's just raw enough that she'll make you believe. And, yeah, the dialogue is corny here and there, but not outrageously so. I have to hand it to the director to keep everyone loose enough to pull off some of these lines, and to make the shots interesting enough for us to care what happens when they do.

    The plot, which does have its convolutions and weird devices, is not nearly as interesting as Halley's growth as a character. It's basically a character piece wrapped in a teen romance. And Moore brings it all together.
  • New Line has sold this movie short and filed it as a Romantic Comedy but I must stress it is not. It's a teen drama with some romance and humor. Think of it as a teen version of American Beauty. Though it's all rather light, How to Deal does have some seriousness and important parts.

    Mandy Moore (marry me?) is Halley Martin, a teenage girl who refuses to believe that true love exists (like me). Her best pal does but is heartbroken when her boyfriend drops dead on the football field of a heart defect ( me). Halley's parents have split and found others, her sister is engaged to some guy and all they do is argue. It seems like the best way to deal with love is to avoid it.

    All that changes when Halley meets Macon (stupid name) a geeky Star Wars nerd. He seems like a dweeb at first but his character grows on you, as he does Halley. He's played by Trent Ford and on the cover he's wearing a white vest and is marketed as a sexually neutral, non-threatening pretty boy (Orlando Bloom, Justin Timberlake etc) but that ain't him or his character at all and he never appears in a vest at any point in the movie. I expected to hate him just because of the cover but that ain't so. In the course of her steadily strengthening relationship with Macom (really, what a stupid name!) Halley learns how to deal with teen pregnancy, being a bridesmaid, her dope-smoking grandmother, car crashes, stepmoms, stepdads etc. Stuff that every kid learns. Real kids, not the kids that make love to pastries or live in mansions, which are the only 2 types of kids Hollywood thinks exist.

    Taken from 2 separate novels by Sarah Dessen called 'Someone Like You' and 'That Summer' it's possible that How to Deal might have a sequel. And if it does its literary roots guarantee it will a better sequel than most.

    I recommend How to Deal for anyone who is sick to death of endless American Pie clones or Harold and Kumar or Maid in Manhatten/Laws of Attraction/Two Weeks Notice/Sweet Home Alabama/blah blah blah. It's not a romantic comedy, not by a long shot. It's far more realistic than that and it doesn't insult your intelligence. Give it a go.

    The DVD is in great-looking 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound. The extras are actually quite good for a change, one of them focusing on Young Adult Literature and it's definitely a good DVD for the price.
  • headshot6927 December 2004
    I found this movie to be funny, serious, entertaining, a little sad in parts, but overall, it didn't suck! I don't think it would win any awards, but it served its purpose well - it entertained me for a couple of hours - isn't that all we ask of a movie?

    It deals with some VERY serious teenage problems - parents divorcing, finding new partners, teenage pregnancy, young love (and old love), and the cruncher, whether to have sex or not. It covered just about most of the problems teenagers face these days.

    It was essentially a good movie and dealt with these issues quite well - not too heavy, not too light.

    Mandy Moore was pretty darned good too - she has a nice little career ahead of her me thinks! :)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I am a seventeen year old teenage girl; basically, the entire demographic that this movie was going for. Having seen "A Walk to Remember," I figured it'd be another Mandy Moore chick flick - not bad, but nothing special.

    This movie just *didn't work.* Using two different teen novels as a basis for a "plot" didn't work. The plot was all over the place; my friend (also a seventeen year old female) and I would stare at the screen and whisper, "What the hell was that?" every five minutes. This movie had every cliche imaginable: teenage pregnancy, divorce, marriage, birth, death, car accident. If reading that seemed random, try watching it. It's ridiculous. Oh, and I neglected to mention the pot smoking grandmother.

    Here are a few examples about what just didn't work in this movie:

    About 10-15 minutes into the film, a boy collapses on the soccer field. He's clutching his stomach, and my friend and I both immediately thought, "Oh, appendicitis." Next shot (this is after he passes out and people are surrounding him), he's on the ground clutching his chest. Dramatic voice-over is something along the lines of him dying of a heart defect.

    Insert my friend and I (and other audience members) saying, "What the hell?"

    Another scene. The best friend is pregnant. She and Halley (Mandy Moore) are talking afterwards, and Scarlett (the friend) is wearing a tank top with four pictures of the GERBER BABY. "What the hell?!"

    It goes on and on. Honestly, if we'd realized 20 minutes into it how disorganized and poorly put together it was going to be, we would've left. The only reason we stuck around the whole time was because we'd sat through it for so long that we couldn't get our $9.25 back if we left.

    As far as the acting goes, Mandy Moore was decent, but I didn't really get her character. As I haven't read the two novels this movie was based on, I don't even know if she was playing two different characters or one. Actually, when Halley would do a total 180 between scenes, my friend and I joked whether they pulled the scene from novel one or novel two. As for Trent Ford...I'm not going to discuss his looks other than in this statement, because I don't think criticizing an actors appearance does any good. As far as the actual acting went...It was pretty rough. Didn't do anything for me. A couple of the supporting characters (played by Allison Janney and Alexandra Holden) were ok; others (Mackenzie Astin, Mary Catherine Garrison) were as terrible as Trent Ford.

    One can only hope that if Mandy Moore wishes to be taken seriously as an actress, she'll accept a better script next time, because she's not a terrible actress.

    I gave it 3/10, and that's only for the non-comedy induced laughs my friend and I, as well as several other members of the very small audience, had.
  • The bright primary colors in which the plot, dialog and characters of this movie are cast gives it away early on: this is a cross between a soap opera and a sitcom, made purely to entertain. As such, it's actually pretty good.

    Mandy Moore is adorable. She seems to be learning how to act as she goes along, but isn't that how most of them did it? Give her a few more years and some better scripts to work with and she could be a major star.

    The real problem is that for the movie's target audience of middle-class suburban white teenagers it's positively overflowing with groaners -- embarrassing "banter" between the kids, cartoonish characters (idiotic philandering husbands, evil boy-stealing girlfriends), and a preposterous storyline. My own teenage daughter and her friends thought How to Deal was, and I quote, "stupid." But for us middle-aged parents nostalgic for a time in their lives they've almost completely forgotten, it really isn't that bad. Give it a chance.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie had a good trailer - but that's all that's good. This movie was SOOOO BAD i could have DEMANDED for a refund!!! This was Trent Ford's introductory movie - and what a huge mistake he made. Mandy Moore as usual JUST CANNOT ACT!!! High school dramedies may be good - and this film tries too hard to be one of them - but it fails really bad. Mandy Moore's performance in this movie is so bad - that a person watching Mandy for the first time may never want to watch her act again. Trent Ford gives an "I REALLY WANT TO BE LIKE ASHTON KUTCHER" performance - and he fails badly at it. The ending in this movie - made it the perfect rotten cherry on the burned cake. *Spoiler Alert* - the whole wedding scene was hideous and then afterwards seeing Mandy and the other cast members making faces at the baby was one of the lamest movie endings in the history of the cinema. My recommendation would be to stay way from this movie - it's pointless, there is absolutely NOTHING good in it, and it's a COMPLETE waste of time
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I actually had decent expectations for this one but found myself cringing throughout most of the film. There's really no goal in this movie. As I contemplated the hollow feeling of having wasted a couple hours watching the film, I switched from passive viewer into active reviewer mode to determine why HTD didn't work on so many levels. First of all, I wanted to empathize with Mandy Moore's character, but there was nothing about her struggles that resonated at all. There was no growth pattern (aka character arc) to be found in her either; she was just a whining, disenchanted stereotype. Moore's character is the caricature of the frustrated teen who doesn't want to risk being loved for fear of getting hurt. Another factor that worked against the film was that they tried to cram too many subplots/characters in, and the main story did not benefit from most of that peripheral crap. Let's see, we had the pregnant girlfried...the doper grandma...the father and his new wife...the mother and her new love interest...Halley's aloof but totally undesirable hippie boyfriend...the sister and her fiance's socio-economic wranglings. It was headache-inducing fare to be sure. Halley's love interest just kept popping up, never with a context or sense of why he was where he was. What did we know about the guy? Nothing. We didn't observe his home life. Didn't really learn his interests. He was simply inserted into different settings (parking lots, stores, backyards, etc.) as though required by movie convention. The few scenes that were probably intended to endear us to the loser, such as the funeral speech scene, were presented pathetically with no emotional weight whatsoever. Third, the lazy writing for this film threw so much over-used tripe at us. For example, you know a film is struggling when they have a dog hump one of the principle character's legs. Also, the dope-smoking grandma seemed such a tired bit as well. After those ridiculous and unfunny insertions, any attempts at serious drama in this schizophrenic film were greatly compromised. Casting and chemistry were certainly some weak points of the film as well. My significant other and I agreed that Mandy Moore did not seem in any way conceivably to be a blood relative to the mother in the film. They looked nothing alike. Granted, this is hard to gauge, but then I started to realize that other films pull this off very well. The lack of character change/growth and of any conceivable end goal also made any attempts to generate a conflict or climax to the film moot. Toward the end when the boyfriend avoids her for a while, it was merely yawn-inducing. This is supposed to be tension? This is supposed to make me concerned? Hardly. The film's efforts toward the end to generate some artificial excitement were particularly cloying and lame. In particular, when the boyfriend forced his way on to the radio station's air waves as though he had to do something desperate and gritty to get Halley's attention, I wondered why he hadn't thought to simply go to her house or call her on the phone. There was no indication that he had made any other more reasonable attempts to contact her. Therefore, what could have been a sweet moment, came off as a stunt and portrayed the love interest as a buffoon and social retard.

    I can only hope that Mandy finds better vessels for her talent in the future. Churning out garbage like this will do nothing for her reputation and continued employment in the film industry.
  • How to Deal (2003) Cynical seventeen-year-old Mandy Moore has seen love gone wrong too many times in her own family that she refuses to believe it exists in her when a boy (Trent Ford) takes interest. Unlike a high-school-movie-of-the-week, this is a surprisingly thoughtful, sometimes contrived film that takes concern to serious teen issues, but it tries to deal with too much at once. Moore turns in another unaffected, appealing performance, and Allison Janney is a winner as Moore's divorced mother. Based on the young adult novels Someone Like You and That Summer by Sarah Dessen. Running Time: 101 minutes and rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug material, language, and some thematic elements. ** ½
  • How to Deal is not a good movie. It's a stab at a more adult and grown up teenage film and while it doesn't suffer from bad acting, it does suffer from a horribly written script and what is most likely apathetic directing.

    Mandy Moore is a decent actress, not great, but decent, and aside from Peter Gallagher, she isn't put up against too many big names, so she holds her own. The problem is that all of these actors are trapped inside a poorly written movie. There are too many specific instances where this film just doesn't cut it. It boils down to this, Mandy's character has to deal with her parents divorce, her sister's wedding, her father's remarrying, her best friend getting pregnant with her deceased boyfriend's baby (it's not what it sounds like), and the fact that despite her misgivings about love, falling in love with the high school clown named Macon. Yes, his name is Macon. The point is there is way too much going on and the movie does not adequately set up any of these events. At one point Haley (Mandy Moore's character) blows up over her Mom not believing that she could remember the last time Haley's comet passed by. She claims no one believes her when she tells people how she feels. Unfortunately, we never see anyone not believing her in the film and it seems more like the director told Mandy to blow up and get angry in this scene without telling her why. Other problems include a random car crash into a tree head on that leaves a Honda Civic hatchback with nothing but a cracked windshield. It leads to laughter it what is supposed to become an emotional scene. There are a few funny moments, but not many. Allison Janney as Mandy Moore's mother is quirky but not funny although she has the only laughs in the movie.

    There is just too much wrong with this movie for anything to be right. It has no real point or plot, the acting is mediocre, and you will laugh at parts that are supposed to be dramatic. I can't think of anything good to say at this point, so I probably should say nothing at all.
  • How To Deal was a movie that I, even as a guy highly anticipated long before it's release. With a well-selected and not over-done cast and a promising trailer, I looked forward to seeing Mandy Moore's second leading role in a film. Her performance in A Walk to Remember was excellent reguardless of the fact it was her debut. Allison Janney is another actress I respect, ever since her small role as the grouchy secretary in 10 Things I Hate About You. Her role did not require as much "involvement" as Mandy's and Trent's, but she did well and contributed to this movie's good quality. Trent Ford was a debut and his acting was the bets in the whole movie. I also respect Alexandra Holden, probably the most, because unlike some young actresses like Hilary Duff, she is building up a slow, steady, solid foundation of experience and fame as she climbs up the Hollywood ladder of sucess. I think she will be a very big star by the end of the year.

    Anyway, I personally found this to be one of the best movies in a long time. Yes, it was tacky, pervasive and thematic at many times with it's dismissed and glorified themes of teen sex, teen pregnancy and teen drug use but it conveyed itself in a way that has not been used as often lately and in a way that i truly enjoyed.

    I don't know if it was the tone, cinematography, costumes, art direction, or a little bit of each which made How to Deal a pleasantly enjoyable movie. It just was in its feeling, that made me and others who enjoyed this movie forget about the abrupt and awkward wrap-up of the story towards the end.

    The story is thick in sub-plots, characters, and their problems and relationships to others. This is what made it seem like a less of a thin movie than some may argue it was.

    The plot was interesting and almost kept you on the edge of your seat as you watched Hally struggle and hoped things would work out for her.

    This movie should have done much better and received better reviews than it did because it was quite a new experience that few appreciated. I give How to Deal an honest, generous 9/10
  • Even though I am a guy I didn't like this movie one bit. I couldn't sit still it was a slow pace movie. Now don't get me wrong even though I am a guy I still enjoy some chick flicks like Down to You, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Boys and Girls. This one was just dull really had no humorus moments, and it was set as though it happens but in a unrealistic way. It does deal with teenage problems or what some teenagers go through but it, to me, was somewhat un realistic. I only went cause my girlfriend wanted to see it which is the case probably for many guys out there, and if you are one of those guys that might get dragged to see it try to find a way not too. Only if it's the very last option. (Girls seem to like the movie though.)
  • Halley(Mandy Moore) just absolutely doesn't believe that true love exists. She is upset with her parent's divorce, annoyed with her best friend's Scarlett(Alexandra Holden) relationship and is also sick about hearing about her sister's Ashley(Mary Catherine Garrison) wedding. Halley just can't see how people can be devoted to each other until she meets Macon(Trent Ford) and the two of them become friends and eventually more. Now the big question is: Will Halley finally fall in love too or will her relationship turn out to be a big disappointment? I thought this was a great teen drama. It dealt with real problems that teenagers go through, people die, people get pregnant and people get broken hearts. Unlike most sleazy teen movies, this one is realistic and the audience will most likely connect and understand what the characters are going through. Mandy Moore does a great job potraying the sweet and innocent Halley and there were also very funny performances by Alison Janney who played Halley's mother and Nina Foch who plays the stoned grandmother. Handsome newcomer Trent Ford doesn't do a bad job either and cutie Alexandra Holden is great too. I would give How to Deal 7/10.
  • Mandy Moore was miscast in this film. She is too pretty and too tall for believability in the role. Perhaps the marketplace dictated her selection and not the director and writer. If one wants to see a more gritty depiction of divorce and death, one should try BLUE CAR.
  • I'm glad I didn't have to pay to see it.

    Not much more to say. The few funny moments are rip-offs of movies like American Pie. The rest is like staring at a photo of a corpse with a lot of smiley faces drawn on it. The corpse, however, will be a lot happier than someone who had to watch this movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A tragic death, a tragic teen pregnancy, a tragic car accident,a tragic divorce, a tragic broken up engagement...sigh...sob... the circle of life...

    Will Mandy Moore ever believe in love?

    Much like Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias, Mandy also gets an awful boy haircut and maintains her vulnerable but compassionate spirit despite all of womanhood's trials and tribulations surrounding her at every turn- through the guise of her caricaturishly naive and impossibly flat-haired pregnant friend, her sister who has a dwarf's build (no neck, huge head)and does the worst-ever portrayal of a drunken bachelorette, and her constipated-looking crone of a mother who got dumped for a younger woman who dresses badly.

    Mandy struggles with her own feelings for a boy who has the more feminine version of her haircut, she does some gratuitous yoga poses, drinks alcohol? out of chocolates, watches "Star Wars" and tries "to deal" with her ridiculously satanic-looking DJ dad.

    Don't worry; it ends with a wedding AND a birth AND a first kiss (and you knew that the timing would work out that way; so predictable).

    Aww...the circle of life... then close in on all the characters making stupid googly eyes at the new baby.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mandy Moore is the Classic example of why musicians should stay in music. There is nothing good about this Film except The Mother and Father (played hysterically by Allison Janney and Peter Gallagher). Now I know why Peter Gallagher went to TV, because he was too embarrassed to be in a film after this MONSTROSITY. The Script is terrible there are subplots that are not linear at all, and the movie makes teenage pregnancy something you can laugh off. **SPOILER** Then The boyfriend dropping dead didn't even make any sense. The male lead was terrible, another case of hearing hype that was quickly nixed. I hated this movie so much, I decided to take a phone call in the middle of it inside the theater, which I am morally against! Then I heard people crying!

    Shame on you, everyone involved. Save us the trouble and just hand around a basket asking for our money next time.
  • The story itself isn't too bad. It might even have worked if not for what might challenge for the title of worst dialogue in film history. Those words come right out of some second rate teen magazine photo love story. The cast is not much better but even if they were, there's nothing to save here. You on the other hand can save your time and money and go watch some decent movie. Bad enough, that I had to endure this torture. 3/10 (and that's really friendly)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Halley (Mandy Moore) is having trouble figuring out "how to deal" with problems. Her parents have just divorced, because her Peter Pan-like father (Peter Gallagher), a disc jockey, had his eyes set on a much younger woman. Her mother (Allison Janney) is, appropriately, crushed and remote. Big sister Ashley is planning a wedding with her buttoned-down fiancé and trying to make everything perfect. If it were not for her best friend Scarlett, Halley would be out in the cold. Then, tragedy strikes. Scarlett's boyfriend dies of a heart condition in the middle of a soccer game and Halley is thrown for another loop. When she is approached by Macon, a friend of the deceased boy, she just wants to be friends. But, is it possible for Halley to keep Macon at arms length? Teens may love this movie and it does have likable stars. Moore is really quite nice as the teen with troubles. Gallagher and Janney are, likewise, very fine as the parents. Indeed, the acting of the cast members is good and not the movie's problem at all. Instead, it is the script and its contrivances that are the problem. Halley seems too worldly wise to be a teen and just boomerangs from one problem to another, in this viewer's opinion. No matter. Most young fans of the film will probably embrace it mightily. But, if you are over 30, watching the film may seem more like a chore than entertainment.
  • mary_morris-121 February 2005
    *Don't worry, No spoilers!* I loved this movie. Of course when I saw it I wasn't expecting anything really life changing, so you shouldn't either. It is just a fun film that is perfect for a teenage audience. I couldn't believe it was on the $5.50 rack at Walmart! If you're not into teen dramas then I don't recommend this film, but if thats your bag then go for it! It reminded me of the movie "Saved!" mixed with a little bit of "Say Anything". Trent Ford is unbelievably cute in it, which led me to renting the film "Deeply" which is also a very romantic movie. I do recommend you to keep a box of tissues on hand, I cried like a baby at one point. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
  • My wife and I think "A Walk to Remember" is one of the best teen films ever made. We purchased the DVD and have watched it numerous times, treating guests to the movie and it NEVER fails to deliver. Best of all, it has a moral and we see the main character truly changed from a sort of "bad boy" to a decent, caring young man. Mandy Moore did a great job in that movie and almost branded a "Mandy Moore Movie" as one we could trust our pre-teen and teen daughters to go see and teach them a little something.

    The foregoing is exactly why this movie was such a violation of our trust in Mandy Moore. The movie is full of gratuitous bad humor and sexuality with not a lot of plot. It runs superficial and comes nowhere near the depth and true caring that comes across in "A Walk to Remember." But, back to the unneeded scenes. We get what they are trying to do, but the ends do not justify the means. From the use of the F-word to the humping dog scene to the taking of the clothes scenes to the ridiculous treatment of teen pregnancy and even downright closeups of Mandy Moore wearing tight clothing and perfoming stretching exercises. It goes on and on, and I can't even comment on the last 45 minutes of the movie because WE WALKED OUT. Only the second time in our entire lives -- the other being Johnny Depp's "Cry Baby" over 15 years ago.

    And we were ot the only ones to walk out. We wanted to walk out early, but stuck with it. Other families -- and mostly families were at this movie -- walked out before us. And when we walked out, at least two or three other groups walked out. Two teenage girls (age 16-19, we couldn't tell) walked out and we talked to them. They couldn't believe it and felt just as let down and cheated by Mandy Moore as we did. They couldn't believe how bad the movie was from the perspective of decency. Again, we understand the point, and we trust in the final 45 minutesof the movie it resolved itself and some moral came across, but getting there was all wrong.

    Mandy Moore, we were huge fans and big believers in you, and even liked your attitude on your DVD commentary on "A Walk to Remember" -- but this ruined you for us. Now a Mandy Moore movie will not be seen without severe editing -- thank goodness there are companies beginning to edit movies of this kind of unneeded content. But, maybe, we'll just stay away from Mandy Moore altogether. What a bad career move for her.
  • captain-5421 December 2003
    But, I have serious hopes that she will choose better vehicles in the future. As much as I like her, by the end of this movie, I had the desire to duct tape her to a theatre chair while I extracted my fifteen bucks from her purse that I paid to see this train derailment of a teen flick. Andy, talk to her boy.
  • Halley Martin (Mandy Moore) is a high school student disillusioned with love. She rolls her eyes at her sister Ashley getting married. Her mother Lydia (Allison Janney) is unhappily divorced from her DJ father (Peter Gallagher) who is getting remarried. Her best friend Scarlett Smith (Alexandra Holden) is happily in love until her boyfriend Michael suddenly dies. She's reluctantly to love until Macon Forrester (Trent Ford) finally breaks down her defenses. Scarlett finds out that she's pregnant. Lydia starts dating Steve Beckwith (Dylan Baker).

    This starts off as a pretty lame teen rom-com. When it takes an unexpected turn, the movie feels like it's ready to make a honest effort. It keeps trying but the lame teen rom-com continues to reappear. Trent Ford is not capable enough to be the lead. Mandy Moore needs a better partner who is deeper than some floppy hair. It's a struggle between a quirky indie and a more traditional teen movie. There is enough to make a passable movie. Allison Janney is a fun presence. The movie takes a few too many melodramatic turns. It doesn't all work but enough of it does.
  • How to Deal would work so much better as a teen film refusing to conform to cookie-cutter ideology if it didn't always seem like it was contradicting what it originally set out to do. Whether this issue was brought on by Sarah Dessen, the author of That Summer and Someone Like You, which the film is based off of or screenwriter Neena Beber is up to debate, but for whatever reason, How to Deal feels like a rebel being proved wrong, foolish, and worthless and I doubt that's how it was originally conceived.

    The story revolves around seventeen year old Halley Martin (Mandy Moore), who becomes disillusioned with the concept of love because of how it appears in her own life. Her mother is going through a rocky time after divorcing Halley's dad, a senseless manchild of a radio-jockey and her sister's forthcoming marriage with another man that seems to be made up of nothing but fighting and bickering. So, because of these two things, Halley simply doesn't believe in love anymore and goes on with her life with that mindset.

    This, right here, should be the plot of How to Deal, but strangely, Beber (or Dessen, perhaps) decides to throw the film for a loop and have Halley be the subject of a love story with the geeky hunk Macon (Trent Ford). This is where How to Deal seems to be contradicting itself. The film should be revolving around Halley's life rejecting love, perhaps embracing hobbies, becoming more artistic and sociable in her life and at school, or even just being more comfortable around guys with the conflict potentially being rejecting her family and mistaking her family's love for ingenuous behavior if something were to go wrong in her life.

    Instead, the film brings up a romance, which feels offputting because it gives the message to young teens who maybe have questions about love the impression that if they think real love doesn't exist they are wrong and foolish because it does. How to Deal plays like "love propaganda," in the sense that its goal appears to be convincing a segment of the population who have rejected romantic notions and the idea that love makes people blind to reality (usually hard-hearted realists or mature pessimists) see the stupidity of their ways and rethink their initial thoughts.

    Early on, when the film is still trying to show us that Halley may be on to something with her ideology before pulling a complete three-sixty with the story, we get a glimpse at Halley with her close friend watching Halley's sister argue with her ex. Halley makes my aforementioned statement about love making people blind to reality by showing that, while they fight and argue, they will kiss and make up in a contrived way in just a few minutes. Such a thing unfolds. Right there, the film has just proved Halley's point by saying that love makes people ignore or lessen the bad in life because they are so in awe with the person they are with. However, just a few scenes later, Halley is seen falling for Macon in a way just as contrived as the events we just saw unfold.

    Because of this, little additional features about How to Deal can be admired, with the exception of the cast's uniformly solid performances in making their characters at least somewhat believable in their personalities. Not every person in high school is like the cast of American Pie and How to Deal tries (if stumbling in the process) to show this segment in a way that doesn't appear condescending. Mandy Moore seems to be born to play the role of a rebellious teen girl, questioning conventions within society and conformity due to a heavily-praised idea. It isn't her fault that the potential impact of her character is cheapened by a screenplay that has an abrupt change in its message halfway through the film.

    Another compliment, as back-handed as it sounds, is that How to Deal is never boring despite what I find to be a glaring inconsistency with its story and message. Many poorly-done romantic comedies become tired early on and very repetitive, but the characters and their actors decide to be upbeat about their roles and all seem committed to the material. Perhaps they saw something I'm missing. This is an entry in the new genre I'll call "love propaganda" and I'm hoping another film won't fall into that category.

    Starring: Mandy Moore, Allison Janney, and Trent Ford. Directed by: Clare Kilner.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mandy Moore is still a teenager here, playing Halley Martin. Her parents have split up, her sister is engaged to be married, and overall she has a lot of things to deal with at her young, high-school age. Thus the title "How to Deal" with all those things.

    Her best friend has a serious boyfriend, they practice unsafe sex and she turns up pregnant right as the new school year is starting. Add to that, her boyfriend is playing soccer and after a good shot he is smiling to her as he falls dead, a victim of a congenital heart problem.

    Then her dad, a on-air radio personality, decides he has met his new soul-mate and plans to get married.

    And finally, cute boy at school takes an interest in her and she has to deal with that while dealing with two weddings and her friend about to give birth.

    This is not a great movie, but it is a cute movie if you like Mandy Moore. I watched it with Natalie on winter break from college. It was a good diversion on a cold day.
  • northofcb8 October 2003
    Another teen-flick, or is it?

    Well yes it is, but a good one. It is more than a believable and enjoyable film, especially compared to films such as "She's All That." Moore, again shows that her acting skills shine in comparison to her singing skill, which aren't that bad either. So it's another teen-flick, so what. Would we call T2 just another action movie?

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