By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)

Based on the ideas and principles of Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 self-help book, The Secret, this “romantic” drama from director Andy Tennant comes across like a saccharine feel-good movie-of-the week often found on the Hallmark channel. Now for some, this might be a major selling point, but for others, this could be a red flag. It all depends on one’s tastes. As for this film critic, I always go into movies with an open mind and heart. And in fact, I actually found myself at times charmed with the movie’s simple optimism and amiable and benign characters. Still, Dare To Dream is not at all a daring cinematic offering, nor is it a beautiful dream. At the end of the movie, as the credits roll, it is simply a clumsily written and conceived love story that tries too hard at times to sell its principles and tries too little to to offer an intriguing narrative.

Katie Holmes stars as Miranda Wells, a beleaguered widow and mother struggling with financial woes and with the growing pains of parenthood. On the night of a big storm, Miranda literally runs into Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas), a college professor visiting her city of New Orleans. After Miranda rear-ends Bray’s truck with her mini-van, the uber-friendly and polite gentleman offers to help her patch up her car.

After sharing a lovely evening with Miranda and her kids, Bray heads back to his hotel, but not without leaving behind a mysterious envelope in her mail box. As it turns out, Bray Johnson came to town with the purpose of meeting Miranda Johnson and delivering said envelope to her. However, the nasty storm and a few other unexpected detours along the way keep Bray into the Johnsons’ lives a little longer. The impact of his presence and the contents of the envelope are about to change the lives of Miranda and and her family forever.

Director Andy Tennant co-wrote the film’s screenplay with Bekah Brunstetter and Rich Parks and it is a story with a seemingly genuine heart. Still, the filmmakers attempts to include the principles of The Secret come across as obvious and too on the nose , quite similarly to the way most Christian/faith-based movies do. To be completely honest, going into this movie I had no clue what The Secret book was about nor did I have any idea what its messages are. However, the lines and dialogue in the movie that express these ideals are not at all subtle and it becomes quite clear early on in the film. Throw in a slightly clumsy love story, some weak obstacles, conflicts/ turning points and that pretty much sums up The Secret: Dare To Dream.

Now, I did enjoy the solid performances by the cast–particularly by Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas. Though the material is weak, Holmes and Lucas make as go of it and do just fine. They share a believable enough chemistry, but no major sparks of passion. The movie also stars Jerry O’Connell who is okay in his very thin role. It just so happens his character isn’t all that interesting and is poorly developed.

Not all that innteresting and poorly developed also happens to be a perfect criticism of the movie as a whole. As charming as the leads are, the filmmakers behind this movie leave much to be desired. With all of the negativity that is happening in the world right now, it is the perfect time for a lovable feel-good movie. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the right movie to soothe our woes now.

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