How to Deal (2003)



Critic Consensus: Soap opera for teens.

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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. Halley's wedding-obsessed sister, Ashley (Mary Catherine Garrison), is engaged to Lewis (MacKenzie Astin), a guy that is completely wrong for her. Meanwhile, bad boy Macon Forrester (Trent Ford) won't leave Halley alone. Just when she decides to become cynical about love because of all the romantic disappointments around her, a troubled situation involving her best friend Scarlett (Alexandra Holden) changes her outlook.
PG-13 (for sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements)
Comedy , Drama
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Written By:
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Mandy Moore
as Halley Martin
Allison Janney
as Lydia Martin
Trent Ford
as Macon Forrester
Alexandra Holden
as Scarlett Smith
Dylan Baker
as Steve Beckwith
Nina Foch
as Grandma Halley
Mackenzie Astin
as Lewis Warsher
Connie Ray
as Marion Smith
Mary Catherine Garrison
as Ashley Martin
Sonja Smits
as Carol Warsher
Peter Gallagher
as Len Martin
Laura Catalano
as Lorna Queen
Ray Kahnert
as Donald Sherwood
Andrew Gillies
as Buck Warsher
John White
as Michael Sherwood
Alison MacLeod
as Sharon Sherwood
Charlotte Sullivan
as Elizabeth Gunderson
Philip Akin
as Mr.Bowden
Claire Crawford
as Seamstress
Enis Esmer
as Ronnie
Thomas Hauff
as Minister
Darryl Pring
as Big Burly Guy
Audrey Gardiner
as Ginny Tabor
Jayne Eastwood
as Mrs.Toussaint
Judy Croon
as Reporter
Sandi Ross
as Marcella
Gabrielle Ashry
as Dixie Cup Girl
Dana Reznik
as Nurse
Darrin Brown
as Steely Dan Fan
Darrell Jordan Hicks
as Soccer Coach
Jon Hyatt
as Skanky Guy
Sharlene Yuen
as Female Fan
Jeff White
as Die-Hard Fan
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Critic Reviews for How to Deal

All Critics (93) | Top Critics (35)

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

July 31, 2003
Rolling Stone
Top 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
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 19, 2003
Top Critic

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
New York Times
Top Critic

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

July 18, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 18, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

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.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

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.

Red Lats
Red Lats

Super Reviewer


Uhhhh, Mandy Moore is cute with short hair.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

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