How to Deal

July 18th, 2003


How to Deal

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Still of Trent Ford and Mandy Moore in How to DealStill of Mandy Moore in How to DealStill of Trent Ford and Mandy Moore in How to DealStill of Mandy Moore in How to DealStill of Alexandra Holden and Mandy Moore in How to DealStill of Trent Ford and Mandy Moore in How to Deal

A teenager (Moore), disillusioned by too many examples of love gone wrong, refuses to believe that true love exists. Then this new guy (Ford) comes along...

Release Year: 2003

Rating: 5.4/10 (6,009 voted)

Critic's Score: 45/100

Director: Clare Kilner

Stars: Mandy Moore, Trent Ford, Dylan Baker

Halley is a young high school student who is disillusioned with love after seeing the many dysfunctional relationships around her. Her parents are now divorced and her father has a new young girlfriend she doesn't care for too much. Her mother is now always alone; and her sister is so overwhelmed by her upcoming wedding that she barely leaves the house anymore. On top of that, the shallowness of all the girls and guys at her school convinces Halley that finding true love is impossible. A tragic accident, however, leads her to meeting Macon, and suddenly Halley finds that true love can occur under unusual circumstances.

Writers: Sarah Dessen, Neena Beber

Mandy Moore - Halley Martin
Allison Janney - Lydia Martin
Trent Ford - Macon Forrester
Alexandra Holden - Scarlett Smith
Dylan Baker - Steve Beckwith
Nina Foch - Grandma Halley
Mackenzie Astin - Lewis Warsher
Connie Ray - Marion Smith
Mary Catherine Garrison - Ashley Martin
Sonja Smits - Carol Warsher
Laura Catalano - Lorna Queen
Ray Kahnert - Donald Sherwood
Andrew Gillies - Buck Warsher
John White - Michael Sherwood
Alison MacLeod - Sharon Sherwood

Taglines: Rule #1 There are no rules.


Official Website: New Line |

Release Date: 18 July 2003

Filming Locations: Birchmount Collegiate, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $5,809,960 (USA) (20 July 2003) (2319 Screens)

Gross: $14,108,518 (USA) (10 August 2003)

Technical Specs

Runtime: Philippines:  | USA:  | Argentina:

Did You Know?

Is a combination of the Sarah Dessen novels "Someone like You" and "That Summer"

Continuity: When Halley and Ashley are at Len and Lorna's place, when Len first takes a glass of champagne, he is not wearing a wedding ring. In the next shot, Len is holding the glass of champagne, wearing a wedding ring.

Halley: You have to learn to walk. You have to learn to talk. You have to wear that totally ridiculous hat your grandma bought you. You have no say in the matter. And when you get a little older, even though you get to choose your hats, you don't get to choose what they put in those meatballs in the cafeteria, or when to fall in love. Sometimes things happens and you just have to deal.

User Review

A pleasant surprise

Rating: 8/10

I almost considered passing up watching this one, but I'm glad I didn't. This movie has all the hallmarks of a bad afterschool special, actually four or five of them smashed together. But just when you think it's about to fall off a cliff of cliches, something unexpectedly intelligent happens. Just when it's about to turn into a tear-jerker, the director puts her camera, almost joyfully, above the rain to show everyone shielding themselves with the church program. Just when you think it's going to turn into a soppy love story, the characters flee from each other, scared out of their minds at the possibility. Just when you think it's going to be a soap opera, Mandy Moore acts her way out of the paper bag that people seem to pigeon-hole her into. You get the idea.

The actors all do well, especially Allison Janney, who puts a real edge to a role that could have easily been mush. I must admit, though, Peter Gallagher, usually a reliable guy, doesn't do much with his aging hipster role. The real joy here is Moore. She's got just enough stuff to hook you into the story, and she's just raw enough that she'll make you believe. And, yeah, the dialogue is corny here and there, but not outrageously so. I have to hand it to the director to keep everyone loose enough to pull off some of these lines, and to make the shots interesting enough for us to care what happens when they do.

The plot, which does have its convolutions and weird devices, is not nearly as interesting as Halley's growth as a character. It's basically a character piece wrapped in a teen romance. And Moore brings it all together.


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