How To Deal
Studio: New Line
Film Length: 101 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: DD 5.1 Surround, DD Stereo Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
As far back as I can remember, each year Hollywood pumps out at least one film that deals with a teenage girl, mature for her age, trying to figure out love, life, her parents and various other things. Of course, if you try something mature and serious the thing ends up without a distributor but if you deliver something stupid, unoriginal and full of bad acting then more than likely you’ll open up in two thousand theaters across the country. Current “it” girl Mandy Moore stars in How To Deal, which should have been called How to Make an Unoriginal Film That You’ve Seen Countless Times.
Halley Martin (Moore) is your typical teenager girl going through life not knowing what it’s all about. Halley’s life is a little over the edge due to her mother’s (Allison Janney) nervous breakdown, which was brought up by Halley’s father (Peter Gallagher) divorcing her for a younger woman. To make matters even worse is Halley’s sister is marrying a guy who she’s always fighting with. With all these bad relationships the troubled Halley can’t help but feel that love is an unwanted curse that bites people for no reason.
Her best friend Scarlett (Alexandra Holden) is the one rare case because she’s madly in love with her boyfriend Michael and he’s in love with her. This here makes Halley wonder if love is real but a tragic situation pushes she further over the edge. This is when she meets Macon Forrester (Trent Ford) who is the school loner that seems to be the total opposite of Halley. The two eventually start hanging out and soon the young girl begins to have feelings for the guy but deep down she knows love can only end in disaster. As she gets ready to throw this love away a pothead granny steps in to give a little speech.
If you’ve seen any of these teenager “growing up” films over the past decade then there’s absolutely no reason to watch How To Deal because it’s the same nonsense that we’ve seen countless other times. I’m really not sure how these scripts are selected but I’ve got a theory that the same script is used over and over each year with the only difference being that we get a different “it” girl in each of them. If you can’t guess how this film will play out within the first five minutes then it’s pretty clear you’ve never seen a movie in your life. If that’s the case I’m incredibly sorry that this film will introduce you to movies.
All the stereotypes from previous films are on hand here including the incredibly boring main character. We are led to believe that Halley is a young girl, mush wiser than her age but she’s so stupid and typical in everything she does that this logic is just outright silly. We get the tough guy who everyone thinks is nuts but deep down he has a heart of gold. We have the best friend who goes through some troubled times but thankfully she’s there at the end for a silly speech. We get a mother who bashes men while chopping vegetables (another male/penis joke) and a father who ditches the old hag for a dumb blonde who can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. The same boring and tired clichés, which appear in all of these films. Is it too much to ask for something different?
The film tries to deal with many serious issues but the director and the screenplay always backs away from any serious questions. Teenage pregnancy is dealt with but this here is pretty much blown away with one simple little answer. Halley asks her mother many tough questions but the film usually writes these off as a joke. The film tries so very hard to be a serious drama yet by the next scene we are introduced to some stupid joke, which becomes boring and by the halfway point of the film you really can’t care what happens to Halley, her family or any of her friends.
The performances are all on the weak side especially Mrs. It Mandy Moore. I might be old fashioned but perhaps we should bring back acting classes instead of those “Acting for Dummies” books. Moore, in her funny scenes comes off very bad and the dramatic scenes are no better. The supporting cast members are so badly written that the actors really can’t do much except copy what they’ve seen in other films. The one highlight is Peter Gallagher who seems to brighten any film he’s in.
How To Deal is a poorly written and directed film that’s targeted at young girls but I wish Hollywood would learn that not everyone in real life is as dumb as they are in movies. Being only twenty-three I find it fairly insulting at how teenagers are shown in these films. Sure, we can make stupid mistakes butt this here is a part of growing up. Making stupid mistakes and just coming off as stupid is another matter, which these type of films can’t pick up on. Save yourself some cash and let How To Deal deal by itself at the video shelf.
VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. How can a film so bad look so good? New Line once again offers a near brilliant transfer with rich, detailed colors. The transfer is so wonderfully good that I kept trying to like the movie but not even the transfer could save the film. The colors all look very natural without any damage on the print. There’s some minor edge enhancement but nothing major.
AUDIO---The sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and does the film justice. The dialogue is upfront and crystal clear without any problems. The music score, featuring bad music, also sounds wonderful coming from the speakers. This is a dialogue driven film so don’t expect any loud explosions or anything like that.
EXTRAS---First up is an audio commentary with the director, Mandy Moore and Alexandra Holden. You know you’re in trouble with a track opens up with the cast members talking about how great the film is. The entire track is basically the three telling each other how wonderful they are, which tells me they didn’t really watch the film. Up next are three short featurettes dealing with Mandy Moore, director Claire Kilner and Trent Ford. These are basically interviews with the actors talking about their characters and the director talking about how wonderful everyone is. We get four deleted scenes, which are all rather boring and thankfully cut from the scene. An optional commentary with the director is available. Up next is two music videos and a theatrical trailer.
OVERALL---New Line delivers another wonderful DVD but it’s a shame that the movie is so bad. The 1980’s are bashed a lot but thankfully those teenage films are still here to enjoy because Hollywood hasn’t released a good or original one since then.
Release Date: December 9, 2003