How to Deal
Director Clare Kilner has certainly gone an unusual route for a teen comedy with How to Deal. Halley Martin's (Mandy Moore) senior high-school year is not fun. You know the kind: Mom (Allison Janney) and radio shock-jock dad (Peter Gallagher) divorce because dad's remarrying the bimbo traffic girl. Older sis Ashley (Mary Catherine Garrison) and her wedding hold the family's attention. There's this guy, Macon (Trent Ford), who she can't decide if she likes or not. (Except when he ditches after he puts her in the hospital in an auto accident--she so doesn't like him then.) And, oh yeah--her best friend, Scarlett (Alexandra Holden), is totally in love with this other guy, but he dies, only not before he's knocked her up, and she wants to keep the baby. One of those years. Halley's hijinks are refreshingly not the usual tween melodramatic farce, but Deal feels morbidly odd--perhaps because "dealing" as portrayed here looks more like resigned enduring.