SPOILERS***********************************************But let me say, that does not matter for this movie cause trust me no one is ever going to really want to see this. It’s so awful, mostly in the way that everything is so shitty for everyone in the story but all the main character cares about it that she, a 16 year old girl, isn’t sure about marriage and love? VOMIT. Okay, so the story goes that the main character, I don’t even remember her name cause she’s a moron, but she is a girl that is confused about love. We find out quickly that she has a friend who’s madly in love with a guy, and they have a wonderful relationship. Her mother is getting divorced while her sister is getting married. Her dad is a radio DJ and left her mother not for a young sexy girl, just for another woman that tries to be smexy? The main character kind of likes a boy.
So the story goes; her main friend’s boyfriend dies cause of a heart defect. Her mother is insanely lonely cause her dad left. Her dad is just kind of a bro, we’re supposed to hate him but he’s just kind of a guy. And her sister is in a relationship with a guy that’s nice but they argue all the time. So everyone is miserable (except for the guys, except the dead one . . .) And while everyone is in so much pain around her she gets mad when people don’t help her out with this “love” thing. And she not only gets upset, she literally runs away! So what finally helps her understand “love” thus ending the movie is her finally loving a guy. So literally the answer to the title is that in order to deal, you need to find a man for your life. SO WEIRD? AMAZING! Oh, also, somewhere in there she and her love interest get into a car accident and he bails on her at the hospital, but they quickly mend that.
Okay, so now that you know the story, here is my real theory about this movie. Everything just goes so downhill for all of these characters in such awful ways, the only real answer for this movie to make sense, is that it is seen through the eyes of a high school girl that overreacts to everything. And everything that happens in the movie is a result of her being upset and multiplying the damage a hundred fold. So, for example, the friend’s befriend dying all of a sudden, in real life he just broke up with the friend. Her getting into a car crash, in real life her mom just had to pick her up at a party. The parent’s divorce, well that was probably real, but it also could just mean the dad worked a lot. So the whole movie is a strange illusion. So this movie is kind of one of the best bad movies I have seen in a while (since An Invisible Sign) . It’s so bizarre!!
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I distinctly remember seeing this in theaters the summer after my freshman year in high school and while I’m not sure what I was expecting, I was super disappointed in it. I was disappointed that it had music from The Flaming Lips and Cat Stevens, I was disappointed that they expected us to believe Mandy Moore was a 16 year old “weird” girl, but most of all I was disappointed that in the end, “how to deal” is just find a boyfriend who falls in love with you, and all of your problems are solved! Great advice.
This movie is hard to watch because it reminds me how awful 16 year old girls are, no matter what. I know this because I was one and was around them and I don’t really need to watch a whole movie about it. How to Deal suffers from similar tonal problems as Big Money Rustlas in that it seemed like no one really knew what the point of the movie was. Halley (Mandy Moore) doesn’t have a lot of problems, but she thinks she does. On the flip side, her best friend Scarlett (Alexandra Holden) falls in love, watches her boyfriend die, and gives birth to her dead boyfriend’s baby all in the span of the movie. Why is the movie not about Scarlett? Who gives a shit about Halley’s bullshit problems?
I guess for the entirety of the movie we’re rooting for Halley to finally start believing in love and marriage, but I have no idea why. I guess she finds it in the end, but it also doesn’t matter because they’re 16 year olds.