How to Deal DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

  • OVERALL
    3.0
    WORTHY
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE FEATURE
Mandy Moore stars as Halley, a young hip student who's convinced true love doesn't exist based on the crazy relationships around her. Her mother is divorcing her father who is dating a younger women Halley can't stand. Her crazed sister is planning a wedding but has second thoughts and her best friend has fallen madly in love for the first time leaving Halley to feel even more alone. All seems lost until Halley meets a new boy who tries to show her what love is really all about.
THE EXTRAS
4 Deleted Scenes

Yeah know, I gotta be honest. I think maybe this movie was shot a bunch of different ways and there were so many cooks in the kitchen it ended up getting messed up. I say this because I find that the 4 deleted scenes on this disk(including an alternative ending) all work better then the actual film itself. It's as though this movie was shot and then the focus groups, and executives who think they know what "people" want but in fact don't live in a reality turned it on it's ear. A good piece of advice might be to watch the deleted scenes immediately after viewing this film.

Cast and Crew Commentary

This features Mandy Moore, Alexandra Holden and the director Clare Kilner. It is very informative and since I am guy, I got the impression that I was being given a really special chance to eavesdrop on three girls having an abridged slumber party. They talked about scenes that had been cut, making the movie, Trent Ford(Moore's costar) and of course...clothes. I love it when the people involved in the movie sit back, have fun and let us in on the secrets of what went down on the shoot. This girls do it and they seem to be reveling in it as well.

4 Featurettes

These featurettes basically let us know a bit more about the process Mandy Moore, Trent Ford and Clare Kilner had to go through in order to bring this movie to the screen. We are given very in-depth insights into these characters, and while most of it seems like "canned" responses, I tend to think that movies that deal so closely with life and issues that people face(death, divorce, first love, etc.) may seemed "canned" because they are so universal. Everyone DEALS with them.

My favorite featurette was the HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE. As someone who writes young adult screenplays, who is making an animated, young adult film and is going to start writing young adult novels I loved every second of this piece. You heard from kids, from professors, from popular "Y.A." writers and then we are taken through the history of the genre. It was fascinating to see and I was reminded why I treasure such books as CATCHER IN THE RYE and THE OUTSIDERS.

Two Music Videos

Skye Sweetnam and Liz Phair here folks, and as this music that I am really not a big fan of, I have to be honest and admit that I really didn't give these videos a chance. I just let them play and suffered through the songs. Although, I was a big fan of popsters like HOWARD JONES back in the 1980s so I do understand that in certain cases and times, music is all relative to the listener.

THE VIDEO
I screened the 1.85:1 letterboxed version of this film and it all looked fine to me. I am amazed constantly by how much better dvd is then video. I don't understand that much about "layering" and whatnot, but if you are interested you can flip the disk and view the movie in full screen. Why you would want to do this is beyond me but have at it if that is your thing.

THE AUDIO
Presented in 5.1 surround sound, I actually had the pleasure of viewing this on system that has that function. Sadly, I am deaf in one ear but everything sounded good. Although, I admit I found myself stopping the disc and going back because there were times that I wasn't able to properly hear what people were saying. Maybe it was just me?

THE FINAL WORD
I really wanted to love this movie as I find that I love teen movies. Give me a film, set it in suburbia and have kids having problems and I am there for you all day. This film wasn't as good as I thought it could be. It just seemed to be too hip, to have too much happening to be too convoluted for me to really enjoy. I kept waiting to settle into the story and these new things kept happening that just seemed awful. This movie seemed like a more a bit more upbeat version of HBO's 6 FEET UNDER and I positively cannot stand that show.

Now before you start saying, "Mushy, it's a girls film...", you are talking to someone that loves Reese Witherspoon movies, that liked FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY, that thought Britney's CROSSROADS wasn't bad(even though it really was). So I do have a history with these films. I like Mandy Moore. I think she is smart and talented and has a bit more substance then some of the other "tween queens" out there, but man this film was morbid in parts. And then there were times where it just didn't make sense.

Take for example when Macon leaves Halley at the hospital. I know that stuff like this happens, I know that people act this way...but for a movie that seems to be stumbling along trying to be everything to everyone...I felt as though I was watching a Robert Altman film by a Robert Altman imitator.

Maybe that was the problem with the sound?

All in all, see HOW TO DEAL but know that there is a lot more(and better) to come from Miss Moore and company.

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