How to Deal (2003)

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Released 18-Feb-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 97:54
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Clare Kilner

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mandy Moore
Allison Janney
Trent Ford
Alexandra Holden
Dylan Baker
Nina Foch
Mackenzie Astin
Connie Ray
Mary Catherine Garrison
Sonja Smits
Laura Catalano
Ray Kahnert
Andrew Gillies
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music David Kitay
John Mayer
Skye Sweetnam

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Halley Martin (Mandy Moore) is faced with a dilemma, and it all revolves around love. She's a cynic when it comes to romance and relationships despite being just 17 years old and in her last year of high school.

    Halley's family is a little dysfunctional and is the source of her confusion about love. Her father, Len (Peter Gallagher), has left her mother, Lydia (Allison Janney), and hooked up with a bimbo young enough to be Halley's sister. As a result, her parents have filed for divorce and Lydia is feeling extremely bitter. Halley's older sister, Ashley (Mary Catherine Garrison), is about to get married to a complete dork whom she seems to fight with constantly, and her best friend Scarlett (Alexandra Holden) is completely head-over-heels for a boy from school and has recently announced she is pregnant with his baby. All these unusual goings-on in relationships close to her has convinced Halley that true love simply doesn't exist and she might as well not even bother trying to find it since she will end up getting hurt at some time in the future - just like those around her.

    But Halley doesn't count on bumping into Macon Forrester (Trent Ford). He's a supposed bad boy around school (what he has done is never really exposed and on the Bart Simpson scale of badness he's more of a Lisa than a Bart). Halley starts spending some time with Macon (a really strange name don't you think), and subsequently finds herself feeling those sorts of inner feelings that can only mean one thing - you know - love.

    From here, the story deals with Halley learning how to deal (neat name for the story) with crumbling relationships going on around her, other problems with family and friends, and her blossoming romance with Macon. How To Deal is based on the Sarah Dessen novels Someone Like You and That Summer. There does seem to have been a whole swag of material available for translation to the screen from the novels, and it does show at times. There are a couple of story threads that don't need to be there and merely add a little padding when it isn't really needed, while the first act of the film could really use a decent kick along at times since it is a little uneven and could even be described as dull. The acting is the best aspect of the film. Mandy Moore proves she can handle it when it comes to portraying an angst-ridden teen, while Allison Janney is excellent as the mother facing a mid-life crisis with no husband.

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Transfer Quality


    This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This would appear to be a slight opening of the matte from the theatrical aspect of 1.85:1. This assumption is based on the appearance of the theatrical trailer which appears as a complete open matte 1.33:1 aspect ratio transfer.

    While the level of sharpness is adequate, it is the occurrence of quite extensive edge enhancement that sees me deduct the most marks. Shadow detail is handled well, and grain is minimal. There is also no low level noise. The colours are without major problem, but they are also nothing to write home about in terms of vibrancy. At least the blacks are black and the skin tones look pretty good.

    I saw no MPEG artefacts and thankfully there are few instances of other artefacts at all.

    There are only English subtitles available. They do the job without being 100 per cent accurate.

    This is a single layered disc so there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one soundtrack on this disc. It is a Dolby Digital 5.1 effort that is well produced and features several excellent songs throughout.

    The soundtrack is quite solid and well rounded despite the inclusion of plenty of dialogue. There is ample front left and right speaker use, and frequent songs pop up that are very well produced and sound excellent. Dialogue is fine with no apparent audio sync problems.

    Songs from the likes of John Mayer, Beth Orton, Aslyn, Cat Stevens, Skye Sweetnam, and The Flaming Lips feature heavily in the soundtrack and really add to the atmosphere and dynamics of the story.

    There really isn't a great deal of surround use, while the sub sees action during some of the songs.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio & Animation

Dolby Digital Trailer

Theatrical Trailer

    A 2:21 open-matte full frame trailer that at least gives the film some heart and also gets plenty of mileage from the handful of funny scenes present.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

    A fair difference that sees an easy win to the Region 1 disc.


    How To Deal is a tale of teen love that is basically a vehicle for Mandy Moore to show she can act to a reasonable standard. In fact, while the story is a little meandering, especially in the first forty-odd minutes, all of the acting is quite good. The characters here are a little more multi-dimensional than I would have expected from a film such as this.

    The video quality is acceptable. It's nothing sensational but at least there are no nasties to be concerned about.

    The audio is likewise functional, featuring some decent well-produced songs and even a little surround activity.

    The extras are limited to a trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Saturday, April 24, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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