The Secret: Dare to Dream movie review (2020)
There is nothing new, exciting or particularly challenging about what “The Secret: Dare to Dream” is selling. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d seen this movie before, as it hews so closely to the kind of comforting fare airing 24/7 on the Hallmark Channel. It’s also Nicholas Sparks-adjacent, with Madisonville, Louisiana, on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain standing in for North Carolina. This is the kind of place where the sun always sets just perfectly, the misty rays of light streaking through the dangling moss, and characters with names like Tuck and Bray wear puffy vests and button-down shirts with elbow patches.
Within this seemingly idyllic setting, Katie Holmes’ Miranda Wells is buried under massive stress and debt. A widowed single mom of three kids managing a New Orleans seafood restaurant, she’s too broke to afford simple pleasures like pizza, so fixing the leaky roof is clearly out of the question. She’s also half-heartedly dating her boss, the blithely wealthy Tuck Middendorf (Jerry O’Connell), which is more of a source of pressure than joy.
Magically, Josh Lucas’ Bray Johnson arrives, carrying a manila envelope with a red wax seal which must mean that it’s very important. (It also happens to be the logo of “The Secret.”) The handsome professor has traveled from Nashville to bring some life-changing information to Miranda, but ends up getting distracted when they meet cute during a fender bender. Not only does he cheerily repair her front bumper, he also patches up the roof on her house when the hurricane sends a tree crashing through her kitchen.
Too good to be true? But wait, there’s more! Along the way, the irrepressibly upbeat Bray insinuates himself with the entire family by offering pithy tidbits of wisdom to each of them. He begins by explaining the law of attraction with a magnet and a paper clip: “The more you think about something, the more you draw it to you,” he insists. So when Miranda’s tween son Greg (Aidan Pierce Brennan) rhapsodizes over the aforementioned pizza, a delivery man arrives with the exact kind he wanted. When sullen eldest child Missy (Sarah Hoffmeister) laments that no one’s coming to her 16th birthday, Bray easily convinces her that having only a few real friends matters. And when Bessie (Chloe Lee), the youngest, longs for a pony … well, you can imagine what happens.