Picks and Pans Review: How to Deal

updated 07/28/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/28/2003 01:00AM

Mandy Moore, Allison Janney, Trent Ford, Alexandra Holden

The Motion Picture Association of America's rating board should consider adding a new category: R-NA. That stands for Restricted—No Adults, a designation that could be slapped on such teencentric twaddle as How to Deal, a movie likely to be appreciated only by those 16 and younger. Of course, adolescents deserve films in which they are the center of the universe and their angst is taken seriously—but ones more astute than Deal.

Moore, the bland singer-actress who starred in last year's loathsome teen weepie A Walk to Remember, here is Halley, a 17-year-old wary of love. Having suffered when her folks (the always able Janney and Peter Gallagher) split up, she resists the gangly cutie (Ford) who keeps asking her out. Deal, teeming with melodrama and montages set to soft rock songs, always seems more WB than real world. (PG-13)

BOTTOM LINE: For teens only

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