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  Directed by
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English - Hearing Impaired
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Animated menus
  • Dolby Digital trailer - Rain

How to Deal

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 98 mins . M15+ . PAL


Singers starring in films is one of the many ‘gos’ in Hollywood at the moment – just look at Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Lance Bass. Jennifer Love Hewitt’s track, How Do I Deal, is nowhere in sight as that can stay safely in with I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, but the question remains, how do you deal with a film like this?

"You're starting to sound dangerously like a Hallmark greeting card."

Based on two novels by Sarah Dessen, Someone Like You and That Summer, How to Deal tells the story of Halley Martin, played by Moore. And that’s Mandy, not Michael. Halley’s life is rather complex, as every teenager’s seems to be, and this film, easily guessed by the title, shows how to deal with particular circumstances in life, relationships, love, drugs and death. Her mother (Allison Janney) is freshly divorced from popular radio host Peter Gallagher - a guy with a hideous goatee who is just about to tie the knot again with a big-breasted bimbo. A little too soon, don't ya think? Meanwhile, love is in the air for her older sister too, who is deeply in love with an anal geek, whom together seem to be the odd couple. And then there’s Scarlett, Halley’s best friend, who too is madly in love with a guy and, for once, a guy is portrayed as a sensitive dude, not some horny teen as many American teen films tend to do - look at American Pie. But anyway, perfect love is never forever, as we find out early in the film, and we follow on with a comic relationship drama about how a strong-minded young lady can learn how to deal with relationships of all sorts – family, friends and love.

Sadly, the trailer advertises the film in a much lighter tone, and in this guy’s opinion, the trailer makes How to Deal look like a lot of comic fun. This isn’t the case, though. The monologue style of the trailer is tried out briefly in the first few scenes of the film, but gets forgotten down the track, and would have been a better carriage for the characters who do, admittedly, have a little more depth than your average teen film. But depth isn’t everything, as a wading pool will tell you, and these characters just seem to meander aimlessly around with very little consistency and purpose. Maybe it is artistic license used to the extreme, but this reviewer found the meandering tendencies of the characters to be rather tedious and detrimental to the pacing. And what is with the drug-using grandma? Ultimately, however, we do see what Halley has learnt during the film, but the path to get there is just a little too misty.


Presented in the close-to-the-film’s-original-aspect-ratio of 1.78:1, originally 1.85:1, this transfer is 16:9 enhanced and is up to Village Roadshow’s usual high standards. Fitting snugly on a single layer, How to Deal’s 98 minute duration is transferred rather nicely with very little to complain about. MPEG artefacts, too like film artefacts and grain, are absent for the presentation, with the odd film artefact zipping in. Towards the end of the film, a smidge of rather annoying and distracting digital noise reduction can be seen on the organ, graphically breaking the otherwise beautiful picture up. Apart from this, the transfer boasts crystal clear image with a stunningly clean presentation, with healthy, realistic colours. The colours, whilst not saccharine sweet, are well saturated and offer the Napisan of whites, the deepest of blacks and an amazing palette in between. Sadly, however, the shadows can sometimes appear a little poorly-defined and rather murky. The single option of English subtitles are superbly accurate, and decently sized making them a breeze to read if they are required.


Given one Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the provided language of English is a nice soundtrack to listen to. Dialogue is clear throughout, and easily understandable with pretty good synch. At one moment, approximately 45:25, the synch seems to be a little out of whack, but this isn’t terribly disturbing. Even though this is definitely not a genre to let rip in a 5.1 soundstage, How to Deal actually does a pretty darn good job. Front channel separation is superb, with plenty of discrete ambient effects going on, and the rear channels too join in on this celebration. The tubthumping subwoofer gets a small chance to shine too in the appropriate places, and provides a healthy bass to the soundtrack made up by some decent tracks by The Flaming Lips, John Mayer, Beth Orton and Cat Stevens. Haha, do you like the ‘bass’? Ah you gotta have some fun here...


The disc opens with the usual Roadshow 16:9 menus, which are neatly animated and give way to the sole feature – a 2:21 theatrical trailer which makes the film seem rather different to what it is and, in this reviewer’s opinion, a more appealing structure.


While a step above A Walk To Remember in terms of depth and structure for Mandy Moore, How to Deal is still a little bit shallow in places, but ultimately leaves you with more of a “huh?” sensation. Village Roadshow’s transfer, on the other hand, is not so shallow, and boasts neat video and audio transfers, even if both are ever-so-slightly flawed. The extra features is where the Region 4 disc really stinks though, with a plethora of features available on the Region 1 counter-part, including an audio commentary.

For fans of Mandy Moore, this is a no-brainer, and shows that she can actually do more than just sing. For those after a decent, if disjointed, teen film, you’re in the right place, and if you’re after an Academy-award winning masterpiece, you’d better keep looking. So whatever the case may be, you’ll eventually learn how to deal with it.

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      And I quote...
    "...How To Deal is still a little bit shallow in places, but ultimately leaves you with more of a “huh?” sensation..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS530
    • TV:
          Sharp SX76NF8 76cm Widescreen
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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