We might all use a bit hope lately. Greater than a bit, really. However you received’t derive a lot inspiration from “The Secret: Dare to Dream” moreover some unintentional laughter to briefly brighten your day.
Primarily based on the 2006 self-help ebook from Rhonda Byrne, which has bought tens of tens of millions of copies with the assistance of Oprah Winfrey’s blessing, this romantic drama is full of vapid platitudes concerning the energy of optimistic considering. Director and co-writer Andy Tennant’s movie takes place in a generically quaint small city filled with blandly good people who find themselves woefully devoid of characterization, though they’re regularly caught standing round explaining themselves to one another. Even one thing as probably thrilling as an approaching hurricane can’t liven issues up.
There’s nothing new, thrilling or notably difficult about what “The Secret: Dare to Dream” is promoting. You’d be forgiven for considering you’d seen this film earlier than, because it hews so carefully to the sort of comforting fare airing 24/7 on the Hallmark Channel. It’s additionally Nicholas Sparks-adjacent, with Madisonville, Louisiana, on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain standing in for North Carolina. That is the sort of place the place the solar at all times units simply completely, the misty rays of sunshine streaking by the dangling moss, and characters with names like Tuck and Bray put on puffy vests and button-down shirts with elbow patches.
Inside this seemingly idyllic setting, Katie Holmes’ Miranda Wells is buried below large stress and debt. A widowed single mother of three youngsters managing a New Orleans seafood restaurant, she’s too broke to afford easy pleasures like pizza, so fixing the leaky roof is clearly out of the query. She’s additionally half-heartedly courting her boss, the blithely rich Tuck Middendorf (Jerry O’Connell), which is extra of a supply of stress than pleasure.
Magically, Josh Lucas’ Bray Johnson arrives, carrying a manila envelope with a pink wax seal which should imply that it’s crucial. (It additionally occurs to be the brand of “The Secret.”) The good-looking professor has traveled from Nashville to convey some life-changing info to Miranda, however finally ends up getting distracted after they meet cute throughout a fender bender. Not solely does he cheerily restore her entrance bumper, he additionally patches up the roof on her home when the hurricane sends a tree crashing by her kitchen.
Too good to be true? However wait, there’s extra! Alongside the best way, the irrepressibly upbeat Bray insinuates himself with the whole household by providing pithy tidbits of knowledge to every of them. He begins by explaining the regulation of attraction with a magnet and a paper clip: “The extra you consider one thing, the extra you draw it to you,” he insists. So when Miranda’s tween son Greg (Aidan Pierce Brennan) rhapsodizes over the aforementioned pizza, a supply man arrives with the precise sort he wished. When sullen eldest youngster Missy (Sarah Hoffmeister) laments that nobody’s coming to her 16th birthday, Bray simply convinces her that having just a few actual buddies issues. And when Bessie (Chloe Lee), the youngest, longs for a pony … effectively, you possibly can think about what occurs.
“My complete life is like that intestine feeling that one thing actually unhealthy goes to occur. After which … it does,” Miranda confides in him. “You understand, issues don’t should be a sequence of unlucky occasions,” Bray responds earlier than popping over to the lumber yard to select up some 2-by-4s and a blower to dry the flooring – which naturally shall be proper there ready for him as a result of he wants them, even if a hurricane has simply blown by city.
This overly simplistic philosophy may appear borderline harmful in these troublesome instances if it weren’t introduced in such foolish, predictable style. (Rom-com veteran Tennant co-wrote the script with Rick Parks and Bekah Brunstetter.) Acquired Covid? Simply want it away. Misplaced your job due to the pandemic like tens of tens of millions of different Individuals? If you would like your dream gig badly sufficient, it’ll magically occur. Can’t pay the hire? Cash will present up in your checking account if you happen to put it in your imaginative and prescient board. In a spot the place birds chirp pleasantly and tinkly piano music accompanies essentially the most banal of errands, something is feasible.
However wait, there must be battle someplace, and it arrives in melodramatic type within the third act. That is a kind of motion pictures the place every little thing can be resolved rapidly if the 2 primary characters had a fundamental dialog on the outset; as a result of they don’t, Bray’s true identification and objective emerge in entrance of a crowd throughout a cheerful event, as they’re wont to do.
Holmes and Lucas give earnest performances and do one of the best they will with such flimsy materials, however they’ve zero chemistry with one another. There’s simply so little to those characters for them to work with. However at one level, I mentioned out loud to myself in an empty room: “Oh my god, are they actually going to kiss in a Waffle Home parking zone?” And for one wonderful, shining second, I manifested my very own happiness.