Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

How To Deal

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
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
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

Special Features:
Four Deleted Scenes

Cast/Director Commentary

Four Featurettes – “Moore” on Mandy, “Macon” Trent, To Be “Clare”, “How To Deal” With Young Adult Literature

2 Music Videos – Skye Sweetnam – “Billy S.”, Liz Phair – “Why Can’t I”

Theatrical Trailer

DVD-ROM Content

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) & Fullscreen Both Included
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
English and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 101 Minutes

Synopsis:
“How To Deal” is based on the young adult novels ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘That Summer’ by Sarah Dessen.

Halley Martin’s life is coming crashing down around her. Her parents are getting a divorce and her DJ father is remarrying a bimbo. Her sister is getting married despite the fact that she constantly bickers with her fiancée. Her best friend Scarlett has also found a new love that she’s head over heels in love with. Seeing screwed up relationships all around her, Halley has lost all faith in love.

However, when heartthrob Macon Forrester comes along, Halley finds herself falling for him despite everything she believes about love. He’s handsome, charming, and rebellious. But will he stick with her when it really counts?

“How To Deal” is rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements.

The Movie:
“How To Deal” is a movie made for young teenage girls, therefore I had no interest in it whatsoever. It’s not really my kind of movie in any way, shape or form, so it’s hard for me to review it. Despite this, I can comment on the quality of the film.

The film is based on the young adult novels by Sarah Dessen. The plot is fairly predictable, but occasionally things happen to the characters in a soap opera fashion that you don’t see coming. The lead characters seem to always be in one form of jeopardy or another, so you find yourself placing bets on which character was going to have the next tragedy befall them. Despite all the emotion and drama, there are many funny moments in the film. Halley’s Dad is a flakey, flamboyant DJ for a soft rock station. Her sister also has an awkward meeting with her future in-laws that is rather disturbing, especially thanks to her grandmother being high on marijuana. There’s also a running gag about Star Wars and Jedi mind tricks. As a Star Wars fan I had to appreciate it.

Mandy Moore carries the film well. She’s turning into a better and better actress that can handle both comedy and drama. She has a lot of energy and enthusiasm that rubs off on the viewer. Trent Ford is also pretty good as Macon Forrester. In the DVD extras I found out that he normally speaks with a British accent. He pulls off the American accent pretty convincingly in the movie. They’re both supported very well in the film by Allison Janney as the stressed out mother Lydia Martin, Alexandra Holden as the pregnant best friend Scarlett Smith, and Peter Gallagher (and his co-starring eyebrows) as Halley’s aging yet hip DJ dad.

I also have to add that I was impressed at the effort to keep it pretty clean. Besides a few profanities, they dealt with a lot of harsh issues like teen sex, pregnancy, drug use, drinking, and smoking without glorifying it or resorting to nudity.

While teen romances aren’t my cup of tea at all, I can still appreciate that “How To Deal” is pretty well made. It doesn’t make me enjoy it any more, but I know there are a lot worse teen flicks out there.

The Extras:
Besides the extras included on this DVD, they also include both the widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film on the same disc. That’s a pretty cool option to have.

Four Deleted Scenes – Four cut scenes from the movie are featured on the DVD. They are all under four minutes long and can be played with commentary. One shows Halley’s mother discussing getting back into the dating scene. Another shows Halley and her friend discussing raising a baby. The third scene features an alternate version of the wedding scene from the film where Macon interrupts the ceremony in a less than subtle fashion. The final deleted scene is an alternate ending that shows Macon and Halley appearing to be getting…intimate. You then see that they are changing the new baby’s diapers instead. This takes place in Macon’s room and you see a ton of his Star Wars toys and movie posters. Being a Star Wars geek, I thought that was cool. None of the scenes, though, add anything to the film and they aren’t missed from the overall plot.

Cast/Director Commentary - Mandy Moore, Alexandra Holden, and director Clare Kilner provide the commentary for this DVD. The commentary has everything you might look for in this kind of extra feature. They discuss how the movie was made, what happened behind the scenes, plot elements, trivia, and more. It very much sounds like a few old friends getting together reminiscing over home movies. All in all, it’s not a bad commentary.

“Moore” on Mandy – This is a quick look at Mandy Moore, her career, and how she got into character for this movie. It features photos, behind the scenes footage, interviews and more.

“Macon” Trent – Mandy Moore and director Clare Kilner fawn over Trent Ford in this short feature. You learn about his background, his acting career, and how he got the role in the movie. This also features behind the scenes footage and interviews where he speaks in his normal British accent.

To Be “Clare” – This short video highlights director Clare Kilner. With a background in theater, she seems to be able to handle a motion picture with no problem whatsoever.

“How To Deal” With Young Adult Literature – While the other videos are less than 10 minutes in length, this video is about 30 minutes. It discusses the history of young adult literature. They discuss everything from Nancy Drew to the Babysitters Club. The authors of several young adult novels stop in to discuss things as well, including the author of The Princess Diaries. There are also lots of interviews with young teens talking about their favorite books. While this isn’t your typical DVD feature, it’s neat to see young adult literature featured.

2 Music Videos – Skye Sweetnam – “Billy S.”, Liz Phair – “Why Can’t I” – These two videos are from pop stars featured on the soundtrack. (Surprisingly Moore doesn’t seem to offer any songs in the movie.) “Billy S.” (referring to Shakespeare) shows Skye Sweetnam recording and editing her own personal music video. Clips from the film are shown on her laptop computer. The song’s not bad, but not to my tastes. Liz Phair’s music video features her playing music inside and outside a jukebox. I’ve actually heard this song before on one of the pop stations and it’s not a bad tune. The video is also clever and well produced.

The Bottom Line:
This film is only for teenage girls and fans of the young adult books. Everyone else should stay clear.

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