Movie review: ‘The Secret: Dare to Dream’ is not very daring
It’s difficult to pinpoint the proper way to describe what people are in for with “The Secret: Dare to Dream.” Anyone who read any of the spiritual, New-Agey books in the series by Australian author Rhonda Byrne - from which this film was created - will at least have a jumping-off point.
For anyone else, it’s fair to say that if you like safe, clean Hallmark movies, this has got to be on your must-see list. If that sort of thing isn’t your particular bag, you’ll need to stay away from this one.
It’s a film (I have not read any Byrne books) that sets up its viewers for a pleasant time, spent with nice characters, living through a story that, while it features a few interesting twists and turns, never rises above being a vanilla confection.
That is not a put-down. It’s a plug for an audience that craves this sort of thing, and it’s a judgment-free warning to everyone else.
The film boasts a cast-full of folks giving laidback, casual performances. Fans are going to identify with the forlorn but positive-thinking single mom Miranda (Katie Holmes). They’re going to be captivated by the mysterious, ever-smiling, ever-helpful Bray (Josh Lucas), who shows up in storm-threatened Louisiana one day with plans to change the lives of Katie and her three kids.
What sort of change is in his mind? Well, that’s where the mystery comes in, and that’s where the script leaps off the cliff into the land of clichés. It’s a simple story of a man on a mission, a struggling but happy family that could use some help, and how all of that comes together.
It’s a story that has no reason to be complicated, but that shamelessly throws in the worn-out combination of presenting missed opportunities, then, rather than just solving any problems that arise from that, adding in many more. I lost track of how many times one person says to another, “There’s something I have to tell you,” only to have that person say, something like, “Oh, it can wait,” then change the subject.
The problems that characters go through in the film involve not having enough money to get by (a strong and serious subject that is treated seriously), a dangerous tropical storm (that turns out to be nothing more than a plot-driving nuisance), memories of loved ones who are gone (treated here with respect), and a love of sugar by someone who eats so much candy, a root canal is needed (oh, the horror!).
So, let’s see what we’ve got: Sad lonely widow, three nice kids, a mystery man from out of town, a good man in town - Tucker (Jerry O’Connell) - who pines for the lonely widow, the threat of a second party being thrown on the same day as the 16th birthday party of Miranda’s daughter Missy, Miranda’s mother-in-law Bobby (Celia Weston) constantly telling everybody what’s good for them, a hole in Miranda’s roof when the storm hits and - watch out! - that Bray fellow knows exactly how to fix the roof.
There are mentions that things are going to get better for everyone. Someone talks about receiving a wake-up call about his own life, and then getting another one, to boot. And, wouldn’t you know it, here comes a sappy song on the soundtrack about believing in second chances.
There are also subtle hints that someone knows something about someone else. Meaning Bray knows something about Miranda. Is it something bad? No! There is nothing bad in this film, unless you consider a couple of explanatory flashbacks that initially show a tough time but lead to blissful positivity to be a bad thing. There’s also a mystery woman in the film who also finally gets the explanatory treatment. And on and on.
I couldn’t wait for this film to be over, but that’s because everything about it is so far from my taste in movies. Yet there are a lot of viewers out there who are hungry for this sort of gentle, amiable entertainment. If you’re among them, you should see it. You will enjoy it.
“The Secret: Dare to Dream” will be available ON Demand and through various digital and cable providers on July 31.
Ed Symkus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Secret: Dare to Dream”
Written by Rick Parks and Andy Tennant; directed by Andy Tennant
With Katie Holmes, Josh Lucas, Jerry O’Connell, Celia Weston