Released: 31st July
Seen: 3rd August
In 2006, The Secret was let loose upon society. The self-help book introduced many to the concept of the law of attraction, namely that if you think about something enough that it will appear in your life (which I can roundly disprove by pointing out that at no point in my life has Chris Hemsworth turned up to my house to feed me freshly peeled grapes, a thing I think about often). The book became a monster hit with people like her holiness Oprah championing it to the masses. Well, it’s 14 years later, so naturally now is the perfect time to start a cinematic universe around the concepts presented in that book.
The Secret: Dare To Dream tells the tale of the broke (not poor, broke) Miranda Wells (Katie Holmes), a widow who is trying to get by with her three kids. One day, while distracted, she rear ends Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas) who is the most outrageously kind human being known to man. He offers to fix the bumper of Miranda’s car and then, after a giant storm, offers to fix the roof of her house. Through all this he has a mysterious envelope he needs to give to Miranda but doesn’t for literally days for no reason (OK a reason manifests itself, but it’s dumb). Oh and Miranda is in a relationship with a guy named Tucker (Jerry O’Connell) but the movie appears to be operating on the George Carlin rule “Fuck Tucker, Tucker sucks”.
There’s a fine line between sweet and saccharine and figuring out exactly where that line is drawn is a difficult task but I would like to suggest that maybe when you have a character who talks less like a human and more like a self-help book, that’s kind of when we start getting onto the saccharine side of the line. Bray Johnson is, put simply, the answer to the question “What if The Secret was a person?” and it turns out the answer is that he’s boring and spouts off inane drivel at the drop of a hat He’s the kind of person who only talks when accompanied by the sound of violins, no one likes that guy and the problem is he’s the only reason the plot moves forward because he is the goddamn plot.
You can clearly tell everyone is trying their best with the material they have, these are all genuinely great actors who have shown time and time again that they have the ability to make just about anything work and you can see they’re all trying their best but nothing about this film helps them. Jerry O’Connell gets hung out to dry with his character who seems nice at first by then, once the film decides that he needs to leave the film, he has a sudden case of assholism. It’s the same trick I’ve seen slasher movies pull when they want the audience to enjoy the death they came up with, so they make the character into an asshole about 5 minutes before the killer turns up. This is that exact setup, except we don’t get some cool gore effect we just get to count the minutes before Jerry is pushed aside.
This is all before we even touch on how the actual concept of law of attraction is used in this film. You ready for that? Cool, cos this film states that if your home gets damaged in some kind of freak tornado, it happened because you wanted it. Fuck you movie, and fuck The Secret as well. It’s victim blaming in a way I genuinely didn’t expect to see. Sure it tries to throw out the whole ‘but if you think about nice happy things then you’ll get nice happy things’ and while that’s nice, still doesn’t help the whole “She asked for it” feeling that you get when you think about what this movie is trying to sell you.
Make no mistake, this movie is a sales pitch. Much like God’s Not Dead and the like are trying to sell you on the Bible, this movie is trying to sell you on this self help guide by saying that you too could wind up having a Bray Johnson of your very own if only you buy the self-help book and believe in the weird things it tells you to believe. The actual movie comes second to the philosophy, which explains why the movie is written to service the self-help book and make sure it’s always right. Because the self help guide has to always be accurate, that means the plot has to conform to it and the characters must change personalities on a dime if the self-help guide wills it.
While it might be visually appealing and have some good performances, The Secret: Dare to Dream is only just barely a step above God’s Not Dead. This movie has a less interesting book that it’s trying to sell you and at least it tries, on occasion, to be an actual movie but it’s just too boring to make it worth your time. It’s background music’s less interesting cousin, and you can do so much better than this.