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How to Deal (2003)



Average Rating: 4.6/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 26

Soap opera for teens.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 48,659

My Rating

Movie Info

Teen pop star Mandy Moore stars in the romantic comedy How to Deal. Directed by British filmmaker Clare Kilner, the script is based on two of author Sarah Dessen's popular teen novels: Someone Like You and That Summer. Halley (Moore) is a teenager trying to make sense of the faltering romantic relationships within her immediate social sphere. Her mother, Lydia (Allison Janney), can't seem get a date, while her father (Peter Gallagher) is getting remarried to a woman that nobody seems to like.


Drama, Comedy

Jun 1, 2004


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All Critics (101) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (67) | DVD (18)

The pop diva goes down with the bubbles in this hopelessly shallow soap opera.

July 31, 2003
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I've seen a lot of dumb teen romances in the last couple years, but How to Deal, is a welcome exception.

July 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
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After a while the bad lighting, graceless editing, sluggish dialogue and self-conscious performances begin to seem like marks of authenticity, as if the movie had been made not just for and about teenagers, but by them.

July 19, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Painless to watch, but it's marred by some significant flaws.

July 19, 2003 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A bad, unimaginative story posing pretentiously as the very opposite.

July 18, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Another soundtrack-driven, disposable, not entirely objectionable teen movie.

July 18, 2003 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even Moore fans may find this hard to deal with.

December 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Fails to acknowledge the real problems teenagers face.

September 20, 2004
Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)

Will enthral pre-teen chippies with its wholesome, marshmallow-peep-sweet vacuous-ness.

February 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

[T]his is a movie that teenage girls -- and nearly no one else -- should enjoy.

January 2, 2004 Full Review

In delivering its message of teen perseverence, How to Deal piles on "issues" without finding a reasonable connective narrative.

September 20, 2003 Full Review

Overcrowded with characters and subplots, the film gives short shrift to the parts that should matter.

August 5, 2003 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

How To Deal eventually folds because it stacks its deck against a true belief in the possibility of love. . .

August 2, 2003 Full Review Source:

Would probably hold a special place in my heart regardless, due to the fact that it portrays a Star Wars geek as actually desirable, but this is a good movie by any standard.

July 27, 2003
Film Blather

How to Deal is about dealing, I guess; I mean, that's what the title says after all.

July 26, 2003 Full Review Source: Mark Reviews Movies
Mark Reviews Movies

In its non-hysterical depiction of the fog of personal relationship wars, the movie gently makes the point that, yeah, it really is a wild world out there.

July 24, 2003 Full Review

Maudlin teen nonsense at its worst, its most sappy, its least believable

July 23, 2003 Full Review Source:

The handful of comic moments will serve up a few good laughs.

July 22, 2003 Full Review Source: Premiere Magazine
Premiere Magazine

Lacking both energy and pacing, it drifts like a driverless boat on a placid lake.

July 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

It has more indigestible plot contrivances than a Claxton fruit cake has raisins, but at bottom it's not insultingly facile and it's moderately entertaining within its own soapy aims.

July 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The whole film shamelessly panders to spoiled adolescents who think they know everything.

July 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Imagine Sixteen Candles as re-written by Britney Spears or Ghost World as re-written by Lizzie McGuire.

July 20, 2003 Full Review Source:

Death. Accidents. Drug abuse by the elderly. Divorce. And that's all within the first 45 minutes.

July 19, 2003 Full Review
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

Attempting to cram two books' worth of plot material into a 100-minute movie is not a very good idea, but How to Deal squeaks by with astute writing and effectively well-rounded performances from its ensemble.

July 19, 2003 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for How to Deal

Nice little teen movie featuring a younger Mandy Moore. I actually upped my rating half a star after a recent re watch. I can remember when I first bought this I found it so-so, but actually I think that was harsh.
Yes, it's a little too cute, but some very real issues are dealt with here such as parents breaking up, first love, and teen pregnancy. The cast are all just lovely. Alexandra Holden is quite an underrated actress, and I liked the guy who plays Mandy's boyfriend (not sure who he was).
Mandy's character, Halley is very spiky and strong for a teen movie. A nice change from the usual.
Enjoyable. Vastly better than many teen movies I have seen. Not bad soundtrack too.
September 7, 2013

Super Reviewer

I guess this is a chick flick, but I enjoyed it. Poor Halley suffers through her parents getting divorced, her best friend getting pregnant, her grandmother moving in - all at the age of 17. Because of all these failed relationships, she decides no love affairs for her, but of course fate has another plan for her.
June 12, 2010

Super Reviewer

Uhhhh, Mandy Moore is cute with short hair.
June 3, 2008

Super Reviewer

Loved it. It was really good and funny.
August 5, 2007

Super Reviewer

    1. Macon: You're gonna let this slide, because it's only the first day, it was an honest mistake, and the fire got put out as quickly as it was started.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Macon: Hey, I'm back.
    2. Halley: You really don't get it, do you? And I don't wanna wait for you to grow up.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Halley: Oh, Macon, I think I like you too much already to actually go out with you.
    2. Macon: What kinda logic is that?
    3. Halley: It's logical logic. Haven't you ever noticed that when two members of the opposite sex get together eventually someone ends up getting hurt.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Macon: You're afraid to go out with me because you might actually like me?
    2. Halley: No... but that's a good theory I guess if you wanna protect your fragile male ego because you can't handle rejection.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Halley: I imagine Star Wars figurines must be expensive.
    2. Macon: I don't have Star Wars figurines... well, not many. But I don't play with them... much.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Grandmas Halley: First loves are near really over. Nobody's perfect, sweetheart. But it doesn't mean it wasn't worth your while.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
View all quotes (9)

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