Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably at least vaguely aware of The Secret, the documentary-turned-best-selling-book about the law of attraction. It’s been some 14 years since the book became an international sensation, but that doesn’t mean there’s no more money left to squeeze out of the idea. Enter The Secret: Dare to Dream, a soapy romantic drama now streaming on VOD. Can the law of attraction and power of positive thinking make this worth watching? Or is it doomed no matter what we hope for?
THE SECRET: DARE TO DREAM: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Despite the cheesy, Christian drama-looking marketing materials, The Secret: Dare to Dream actually boasts a pretty stacked cast and seasoned director. Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama) serves as both director and co-screenwriter, while Katie Holmes, Josh Lucas, Jerry O’Connell, and Celia Weston star. Things kick off with reports of a hurricane approaching, and residents of a small town in Louisiana – including widow Miranda (Holmes) and her seafood restaurant boss/boyfriend Tucker (O’Connell) and coworkers – are more than a little stressed. The mysterious Bray Johnson (Lucas) arrives to deliver a wax-sealed envelope (bearing The Secret logo, woof!) to Miranda and doesn’t find her at home, but happens to be rear-ended by her later in the day. Coincidence? Not if Bray can help it! He sticks around to help fix up Miranda’s van and hang with her kids, and winds up chickening out of giving her the envelope, so he stuffs it in their mailbox on his way out. The storm winds up raging hard and a tree goes through their roof, and Bray returns the next morning to find that the mailbox is gone.
Miranda’s life is seemingly bad because she believes that she has bad luck and can’t catch a break. Bray wants her to believe that if she thinks about what she wants instead of what she doesn’t want, things will get better. Whatever you imagine happens from here is pretty much right. Sparks fly, things get better (and worse!) and well, uh, secrets are revealed. All of this combines to drive home a single message: if you want something bad enough, you can manifest its existence.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Just about every single forgettable Hallmark or Lifetime romantic drama, with a little bit of the earnest positivity of Christianity movies mixed in. This is a movie so bland it doesn’t even bring other specific titles to mind.Performance Worth Watching: Unfortunately, every single character is so shallowly sketched that it’s impossible to distinguish any particularly great performance. Holmes and Lucas do their best with a seriously rickety script, but it’s certainly not a career-best for either of them. They’re all serviceable, sure, but you’ll likely be hard-pressed to find something memorable here.
Memorable Dialogue: Within the film’s first act we get a handful of gems from Lucas like “Your thoughts attract things with a force, that you cannot see, but is definitely real,” and things continue as such. I’m not sure if that’s memorable so much as what is repeated using varying synonyms over the course of its runtime.
Sex and Skin: I am mortified you’d even ASK. Sex and skin? In The Secret?! Not a chance.
Our Take: I went into this extremely skeptical but prepared to be maybe a little won over by Holmes or Lucas or the director of one of the most charming rom-coms ever, Sweet Home Alabama. Boy, was I disappointed. For a movie intended to be inspiring, there is so little about this that feels genuinely uplifting that it’s almost comical. The cast does their best with what they’re given, but that isn’t very much. Holmes and Lucas have little to no chemistry, and every dramatic development feels totally unearned. The emotional stakes don’t feel high enough for us to care what happens to any of these people, and even calling them “people” feels generous. They are earnest caricatures of people who barely exist in the real world.I feel bad ripping so hard on a movie that seems so well-intentioned (and full of performers I generally like), but it is such a joyless affair that I have to warn others against experiencing the same fate. The script is paper thin, the cheesiness of it all isn’t enough to serve as a solid distraction. There are a couple chuckles to be had at the self-seriousness of it all, but if you’re looking for something ‘so bad it’s good’, there are infinite other offerings that would make a better choice.
If The Secret: Dare to Dream had been released a decade or so ago, it may have landed a little better. But in a world where a pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people and thrown others out of their homes, it’s difficult to get behind the idea that “if you want something, you can will it to happen”. The Secret: Dare to Dream makes post-Notebook Nicholas Sparks flicks feel like Oscar fodder. You get it.
Our Call: SKIP IT. Even beloved actors can’t save this shallow attempt at inspiration. If you loved the book, there may be something here for you, but even devoted fans may find themselves let down. Your time is better spent rewatching the B-level Nicholas Sparks classics or some of those popular spiritual miracle movies. (That said, your self help book-loving boomer parents may love it.)
Where to stream The Secret: Dare to Dream on VOD