Published Jul 01, 2003How to Deal is Hollywood's latest teen romantic dramedy. It features pop star Mandy Moore as Halley, a cynical teen convinced that love doesn't exist after watching her parents (Allison Janney and Peter Gallagher) go through a bitter divorce and her sister (Mary Catherine Garrison) prepare to wed a man who seems all wrong for her (Mackenzie Astin). Of course, Halley's resolve is challenged when despite her better judgement she finds herself falling for brooding hunk Macon Forrester (Trent Ford).
Based on two novels by Sarah Dessen, How to Deal tries to pack too much into its brief running time (a divorce, a wedding, a teen pregnancy, an unexpected death, a car crash... Halley really does have a lot to deal with), which makes the movie feel choppy and disjointed. There are some stylish moments of direction from Clare Kilner, but the script, adapted by Neena Beber, is an uneasy mix of over-the-top comedy and melodrama that never gels. Moore does a fine, if unremarkable, job in the leading role, though she is understandably outclassed by superior actors Janney and Gallagher, who steal every scene they're in. (Alliance Atlantis)n