How to Deal

"Terrible"

How to Deal Review


You could take a camcorder to the mall, videotape strangers at random, and end up with a better movie than Mandy Moore's How to Deal. Soggy and melodramatic, this mess aims to address the obstacles we encounter en route to romance. But a pessimistic mood causes the picture to drag its feet. Staged without an ounce of genuine sentiment, Deal makes Britney Spears' dismal Crossroads look like Casablanca.

Screenwriter Neena Beber draws inspiration from two separate Sarah Dessen novels, but can't squeeze one decent movie out of the material. In only her second starring role, Moore plays Halley Martin, a disillusioned high schooler learning how to deal with a lifetime's worth of problems. Halley's divorced dad (Peter Gallagher) has a new fiancée, while her mom (Allison Janney) is still coping with the split. Her best friend, Scarlett (Alexandra Holden), is pregnant, and her older sister's pending nuptials appear doomed from the start. Out of the blue, Halley is falling for a detached hunk (Trent Ford) who might be able to convince her that true love exists.

Most of Deal's mistakes belong to first-time director Clare Kilner. She tries to handle serious adult topics with teen sensibilities and can't manage either side with conviction. Messages regarding teen pregnancy or broken homes feel phony and dishonest. Relevant points are suffocated with unfunny gags, from a pot-smoking grandmother to a frisky pooch. It's the equivalent of Oprah Winfrey attempting to film a sentimental segment of her talk show in front of MTV's TRL studio audience.

Worst of all, Halley isn't a character worth emulating. Spoiled and self-centered, she posts endless questions about the nature of love, but waits for no answers. Moore might've made her relatable, but the actress brings little to the role. Her furrowed brow is supposed to suggest deep thought, but makes her look like she has an ice cream headache. She's consistently boring, and Moore's efforts go unassisted by Kilner's choppy direction.

Then again, Kilner's unfocused approach leaves just about everybody high and dry. Janney and Gallagher do what they can with underdeveloped roles. Potentially attractive subplots are often delayed so Moore and Ford can play kissy-face to the latest John Mayer single. Realizing the film lacks follow-through, Kilner ties all her loose ends together in one jumbled, predictable logjam that involves a bridal party cluttering up a maternity ward. Original, this is not.

The last word belongs to Moore, who utters this line when describing her father's beachside wedding but might as well be talking about this film. She says, "It was great, if you're the devil and happen to enjoy human pain." Point well taken.

It's how they deal: Clapping.



How to Deal

Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th July 2003

Box Office USA: $14.1M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: New Line Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 28%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 67

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Halley Martin, as Macon Forrester, as Lydia Martin, as Scarlett Smith, as Steve Beckwith, as Grandma Halley, Mary Catherine Garrison as Ashley Martin

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.