Mandy Moore, Allison Janney, Alexandra Holden, Mackenzie Astin
Rule #1. There are no rules.
"How to Deal" is a mildly entertaining but mostly uninvolving teen dramedy featuring Mandy Moore as Halley Martin, a young teen girl with multiple challenges including her parent's divorce, her best friend's first boyfriend, her sister's upcoming wedding and her own tenuous relationship.
This film doesn't set out for greatness, which is good as it doesn't even come close. It mostly bounces between trying to be a serious "teen" flick and a John Hughes style comedy.It never really achieves either objective, and is mostly floating out in a sea of nothingness.
Moore does an okay job here, but is not yet a good enough actress to handle this sea of nothingness. Allison Janney, as her mother, exhibits none of the skill that she obviously has on "West Wing." It seems to be a mostly "blah" role...not bad, but certainly not good.
The film suffers from very uneven editing, with some odd scene choices. Director Clare Kilner directs, but it seems mostly a "paint by numbers" approach.
Alexandra Holden, in a supporting role, does a fairly nice job...but, can't elevate the rest of the film.
This is not a bad film, but it's certainly not worth a rental.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic