It's pretty bad when you find yourself nostalgic for something as recent as last
summer's movies, but I am. I miss all of those fun popcorn flicks we had in the
summer of '02, including EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS, REIGN OF FIRE and XXX. Now, when
this sorry sequel summer offers something other than second or third editions,
it usually a mediocre melodrama like HOW TO DEAL, starring singer Mandy Moore.
Moore almost saved her last picture, A WALK TO REMEMBER, which was nothing worth
remembering, but this time she plays in a movie so lame that it is unsavable.
Perhaps she realized this since she just phones in her performance this time.
Directed as if it were on autopilot by Clare Kilner, the movie lacks both energy
and pacing. It drifts like a driverless boat on a placid lake.
The slapdash script has a sixteen-year-old named Halley Martin (Moore) having to
deal with the death of her best friend's boyfriend, the marriage of her sister
into a stuck-up family and her father's marriage to another woman. Her father,
played badly by Peter Gallagher, is a freeze-dried hippie DJ who claims to be
the "big dog of soft rock." Halley's mother (Allison Janney) is still angry at
her ex for having run around on her. At high school, a stoner type boy, but one
with a good heart, has set his sights on Halley. The film is just as awful as
There are several questionable parts for a PG-13 movie, whose main demographics
are girl tweens. Besides the casual teen drinking, it features a long scene
involving a dope smoking grandmother. The movie treats her addiction as
casually as a preference for broccoli.
"Things do sometimes change," Halley's mother tells her. Well, the movie never
does. It just limps along until it finally stops at a completely predictable
point. What is the closest the movie comes to being good? In one brief
incident, we see Halley reading "Madame Bovary." At least in that scene, we see
the name of a good story. That's as close as we ever get.
HOW TO DEAL runs 1:41. It is rated PG-13 for "sexual content, drug material,
language and some thematic elements" and would be acceptable for kids around 12
My son Jeffrey, age 14, thoroughly hated it, giving it just one *. He thought
that is was like a bad television soap opera with no story but lots of
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes