Mandy Moore churns out another B-grade romantic comedy-drama with How To Deal, which is meant to be a compliment. Though I can hardly consider her movies beneficial to the genre, they don't hurt it either, and for a singer-turned-actress, they should be regarded as pretty successful ventures. How To Deal, like A Walk to Remember, is surprisingly decent.
Moore stars as Halley Martin, a rather bitter teenager who is struggling to accept the facts that her immature father has left her mother for another, younger woman, and thus is quite skeptical about the idea of true love. So when one of her friends starts showing real interest towards her, and she to him, she has trouble letting anything happen because she is afraid that she will end up just like her mom. Furthermore, when her best friend's boyfriend dies suddenly, things don't get easier.
So, that is the setting for this semi-lighthearted film, which really can be most easily defined as a funny drama. There are plenty of cute scenes to feed those rabid girlfriends of yours, but the movie is entertaining enough to keep one's attention, that one being the male audience. Of course, I wouldn't recommend this for a guy's first choice, but as chick flicks go, there are worse things in life.
Moore does a pretty believable job in the lead; she seems much more comfortable than in A Walk to Remember, where she was basically forced to go through her full emotional range with her first big role. She really does do quite a good job, despite the fact that her character is somewhat of a bitter bitch at times. The way she reacts to certain events is not always that believable, though what her character does isn't exactly her fault, either.
As dramas go, How to Deal is your typical teenage fare. All of these teen dramas are about the same - they are tolerable to watch but cannot be taken seriously when compared to adult dramas. Nothing that happens in How to Deal really warrants its attention among the "big players."
How to Deal is decent at best, which probably is all that the studio was hoping for. Moore turns in a pretty good performance and even shows a little skin (not that much, guys), if that's what you're looking for. If your date or girlfriend really wants to watch this movie, then might as well watch it; if she doesn't, then you really aren't missing out anything.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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