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How To Deal /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Mandy Moore, Trent Ford, Dylan Baker, Allison Janney, Peter Gallagher
Directed by: Clare Kilner
Produced by: William Teitler, Erica Huggins, Scott Kroopf
Written by: Heidei Ferrer, Neena Beber, Sarah Dessen
Distributor: New Line Cinema


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     Wow! Iíve finally found a movie, targeted at teenage girls, that isnít just about having fun and all that dorky hoopla. How to Deal isnít inspired, but itís a step in the right direction, for films of its kind. Even though the script is somewhat conventional, and the film has noticeable technical flaws here and there, it still hits a pretty powerful message home. How to Deal is a lot more real than most would expect, and even though itís advertised as a teeny-bopper movie, it offers a lot more than that. Itís not great, by any means, but it is a refreshing alternative to the big-budget, testosterone-driven, action-flicks consuming the majority of multiplex screens today.

     Halley Martin (Mandy Moore) has given up on believing in true love, after witnessing multiple cases of bad relationships. Her best friend, Scarlett Smith (Alexandra Holden), is already having sex with, and obsessing over, the high school soccer hunk. Brainwashed by everything he does and says, Scarlett is losing grip on her own life. Halleyís mother (Allison Janney) and father (Peter Gallagher) have just had a terrible divorce, and this has affected her relationships with the both of them immensely. While she is still friendly with her mom, she can never relate to her. She abhors her dad, though. He is a popular radio DJ, about to remarry to a young, air-headed bimbo. She has lost all hope in the man. Her sister, Ashley (Mary Catherine Garrison), is also about to marry the wrong person, and she often knows this, but ignores such because of her disparity to find love. Halley would like to help her sister, but she resists. Just when Halley has completely given up on love, after witnessing all of these cases of it going wrong, she falls for a guy named Macon (Trent Ford). Macon relieves Halley of the chaotic world that has built itself around her.

     Yes, I know, I know, it sounds stupid and corny. Just like all of the rest of the stuff that gets to teenage girls, right? I couldnít find a worse example of such. How to Deal is much more than that. You have to witness it, to understand why the experience it offers is so enriching. This is a unique opportunity for moviegoers of all sorts. Itís a study on love that will suit the expectations of every single person to view it. I admired it for the methods it used in instituting originality into a dead genre, as will many other serious filmgoers (and most males). Women and girls will like it for the romance and cute moments in the story. Whatever the reason for a personís liking of How To Deal, is irrelevant, though, in the scheme of things. All that matters is that those who wouldnít normally take a chance, seeing this type of movie, go to this one. Itís definitely worth the ten dollars it will cost you for admission.

     Moore is excellent in this movie. I had my doubts about her acting abilities in A Walk to Remember, but she is able to prove her worthiness as an actress in How to Deal. She, really, holds the entire picture together, and is extremely convincing as the lead character, Halley. Moore has stated, on many occasions, that she chose this role because she was the exact opposite of her character. She is so surprisingly great in the film, however, we would think that sheíd be able to identify with Halley much more than she says she does. If she continues acting, I think Moore will grow a lot, and her choice in roles will improve. She, really, does have the potential to be Oscar-caliber someday.

     Iím making How To Deal seem like a better movie than it really is, but I canít emphasize the fact that it is daringly original, for a film of targeted at such an audience. Moore, and the entire cast, are tremendous, and should be commended for their efforts. Though conventional, the writing and plot are innovative and respectable, and I think that everyone will be able to relate to at least one of the characters in them, in some way. In a grim year for film, dominated by crazy action movies, How to Deal is a breath of fresh air.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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