Remember how it felt to watch our beloved Julie Andrews – you know, Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp – playing a crass role in VICTOR VICTORIA and falling headlong off our collective pedestals? Ever so regrettably, HOW TO DEAL gives audiences that same, sad letdown as they realize that Mandy Moore is no longer playing the sweet, relatable, godly Christian young lady she played in A WALK TO REMEMBER. As a matter of fact, one of my middle school children, who has watched A WALK TO REMEMBER more than a dozen times and has proclaimed that she wants to be just like Mandy’s character, Jamie, actually walked out of this latest movie and asked me to pray for her depressed spirit.
Depressing is probably the most fitting word for HOW TO DEAL. It’s the story of Halley Martin (Mandy Moore), who is trying to find a way to “deal” with her father’s abandonment and infidelity, her man-hating mother’s fits of rage, her best friend’s highly sexual relationship with her boyfriend, and the mixed feelings she has for a cute guy at school, Macon (Trent Ford), whom she’s supposed to hate because he’s a man and therefore potentially hurtful and abandoning. (Aren’t we all getting sick of the movies that portray men as hurtful and abandoning? Especially since it’s God’s plan that earthly fathers represent a portrait of the incredible love and faithfulness of our heavenly Father?)
The movie’s official tagline is, “There are no rules,” and the worldview follows suit throughout the story. Halley encourages her best friend to go ahead and fornicate with her boyfriend and use him for the good feelings he gives, but to never fall in love with a guy because that is a sure ticket to a horrific breakup. Ignoring Halley’s advice, the friend falls in love, only to have her boyfriend fall over dead at a soccer game and then find out she’s pregnant with the boy’s child.
Meanwhile, the class-cutting but charming Macon continues to slowly work his way into Halley’s life, just at the time when she’s most needed to comfort her bereaved friend. How awkward after all her preaching about avoiding and using guys! The relationship progresses and moves toward sexual exploration quickly. Halley stops things in the nick of time, though – not because of any moral qualms, but because she feels she might be falling in love, and that’s against her and her family’s man-hating rules. Ah, such a message to give our teens!
On another front, Halley’s older sister shocks the family (on the day her mother’s divorce is final) by announcing her own engagement to a privileged young man from the South. The problem is that the couple fights incessantly, and at a fancy dinner at the fiancé’s house, the grandmother gets stoned from smoking too much pot and royally embarrasses the bride-to-be, while the dog makes sexual gyrations on the mother’s leg. To make matters more confusing, angry mom soon meets a Coca-Cola repairman and begins secretly sneaking out of the house at night to fornicate with him. The characters continue to argue with each other and berate each other with obscenities, struggling with their angst over being drawn toward men.
After much plodding, depressing dialog, one big quasi-compelling question remains: Will any of these rocky relationships work out, or will the man-hating spirit win out in the end? In reality, the biggest question of all is actually HOW TO DEAL with children who might insist on seeing this awful movie: take them to the exciting and moral SPY KIDS 3D, or the swashbuckling fun of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. If they’re die-hard Mandy Moore fans, please direct them back to the video WALK TO REMEMBER with its positive, redemptive Christian elements, much better choices for their summer entertainment!
Please address your comments to:
Robert Shaye & Michael Lynne
New Line Cinema
116 North Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 854-5811
Fax: (310) 659-3568
SUMMARY: In HOW TO DEAL, Halley Martin must learn to deal with her parents’ divorce, her best friend’s unplanned teenage pregnancy, and the angst of feeling drawn toward the male sex, creatures that will undoubtedly abandon and/or wound. With a highly relativistic, humanistic outlook, and foul language and sexual themes more fit for an R-rated movie, audiences will be wondering HOW TO DEAL with their depression after seeing this movie!
(PaPaPa, Ho, LL, SS, NN, AA, DD, MM) Depressing, hedonistic, humanistic worldview espousing an angry, man-hating spirit and a total ignorance of God’s wonderful plan for marriage and family, including a veiled homosexual theme with almost all female characters expressing hatred for men and almost all male characters being weak, stupid, and/or void of morals; 8 obscenities and 15 light profanities; major sexual theme with friend catching teenage couple fornicating (veiled), couples sneak out to fornicate, mother sneaks out to fornicate, boy disrobes girl (shown from back with upper female and male nudity), and dog sexually attacks mother’s leg at fancy dinner; several instances of drinking and drunkenness; portrayals of drugs with grandmother smoking marijuana at every possible turn and proclaiming, “Wow, I’ve got the munchies!”; and, lying, stealing, cheating, disrespectfulness to parents, and girl gets pregnant out of wedlock and discusses abortion and adoption, finally opting to keep the baby herself.