One is as though nothing is a miracle
The other is as though everything is…
Widower Miranda Wells (Katie Holmes) lost her husband Matt five years ago in a tragic accident and struggles to raise three children on her own. Her husband was an inventor and a dreamer, and so she has had to become far more practical as she deals with the mountain of debt that has amassed since his death. Miranda lives in a once beautiful waterfront property. She put her dreams of becoming a nurse aside to raise her three children—nearly 16-year-old Missy (Sarah Hoffmeister) and her younger siblings Greg (Aidan Pierce Brennan) and Bess (Chloe Lee). Their home has a leaky roof, and their old van barely runs, but at least they have each other. Miranda works at a popular local seafood restaurant owned by boyfriend Tucker (Jerry O’Connell). While they’ve been dating for a couple years, their relationship hasn’t really progressed—Miranda still grieves for her husband, and Tucker, who’s a really nice guy and loves Miranda very much, has never really pushed her to take things further. While Tucker is a wealthy man, Miranda has never wanted to ask him for money to help with her financial issues. Miranda’s somewhat pushy mother-in-law, Bobby (Celia Weston), on the other hand, is constantly offering to to sell Miranda’s home, and encouraging her relationship with Tucker (even though that would be moving on from her deceased son).
Tropical Storm Hazel is quickly approaching New Orleans, and the news reports are encouraging everyone to batten down their homes. As Maddie is out doing some last minute errands, engineering Professor Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas) arrives in town from Nashville, stopping by Miranda’s home to give her a mysterious manila envelope. When he discovers that Miranda isn’t at home, he decides to come back later. However, fate has other things in mind, and Miranda literally runs into him. Despite the accident being her fault, Bray offers to help repair Miranda’s van (which took the brunt of the damage), and she reluctantly agrees, baffled why this man is being so nice to her.
After the big storm hits, Bray returns to the Wells’ home, offering to help repair the damage the storm caused to their roof. Again, Miranda wonders why Bray is being so nice, and he explains that he had a life-changing event a while back that gave him a new perspective. He tells the Wells family that through the power of positive thinking, anything is possible. All one needs to do is to constantly think about what it is they want or need, and it will it to happen. This may sound all well and good, but Miranda has her doubts. Miranda has fallen into a rut in her life, drowning in money issues, and her family’s series of unfortunate events. Can this really all be solved by willing things to be be better as Bray insists? If the family just dares to dream for what they want, can these dreams really come true? However, first they need to figure out what it is that they actually want in life. As Bray fixes the roof, he spends some time with the various family members, and his philosophy starts to change their lives for the better, helping them to gain a more positive outlook on life. At the same time, Bray keeps putting off telling Miranda the original purpose of his visit to New Orleans—what was in that envelope, what secret is he hiding, and how will it change the Wells’ opinions of him?!
The Secret: Dare To Dream is the first scripted feature film based on the concepts of Rhonda Byrne’s wildly popular 2006 self-help book The Secret. The main idea behind the book is that the secret to life is that everything someone wants or needs is always within their reach—all they have to do is constantly think about it and maintain a positive attitude, and these things will be attracted to them like a magnet. And this is also the focus of the film, and what Bray is trying to impart on the Wells family. For Miranda—and Bobby as well—ever since Matt’s death, her life has become centered around loss and fear, rather than gain and joy They need to focus their thoughts on what they want, and not what they don’t want—they’ve forgotten how to be happy, and are living under this constant cloud. The film is an uplifting story of hope, redemption and forgiveness. It is a spiritual film in a way, but never become religious.
Overall I quite enjoyed the film—it’s a nice blend of drama, spirituality, mystery, and even a little romance. Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas make great leads—there is this palpable connection between their two characters, though it feels more spiritual than sexual. Initially you don’t quite know why this man is being so helpful, but it’s definitely more than just showing up on her doorstep like a Jehovah’s Witnesses to sell her on his way of life. He has some other motive and genuinely seems to want to help the Wells family. Over the course of the film, you see Miranda learn to let go of the things that are stressing her out, and dare to dream for the the things she truly wants out of life, and as a result she and her family become a lot happier—all thanks to this oddly ever-positive stranger who has recently entered their lives. The film also explores the relationship between Miranda and her mother-in-law, who is also still grieving over the loss of the same man, and is trying to help Miranda in the best way she knows how.
If I had to list my negatives about the film, the first would be that Jerry O’Connell felt a little underutilized. I don’t think the viewer is given a good sense of the relationship between Tuck and Miranda, and why these two are still together after so long despite not seeming to spend much time with one another (except at work as boss and employee). They seem more like really good friends rather than a couple that has been together for a while. And second, it took me a little time to warm up to Miranda after her meeting with Bray. Whenever Bray offers to fix things, she seems less than appreciative, basically just pointing him in the direction of the car or roof and then taking off to do her own thing. If someone offered to do you a massive favor, you would at least ask them if they wanted you to stick around or see if there was any way you could assist them (especially if they were going to be up on a roof alone), but that never seems to occur to Miranda. This felt oddly out of character for anyone in this situation, but especially someone like Miranda, who is generally nurturing with her children.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has released The Secret on both Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD. I received the Blu-ray release for review, and it looks and sounds great. The picture is clean and detailed, really showcasing the beautiful New Orleans sites. The audio track provides clear dialogue, and makes excellent use of the stereo and surround channels to give the viewer a more immersive viewing experience—this is especially noticable in the scenes early on as Tropical Storm Hazel hits and you can hear the rush of the winds and the torrential rain, as well as the dripping water coming through the roof of the home. The Blu-ray and DVD discs are packed in a standard multi-disc HD keepcase along with a slipcover. There is a code for an HD digital copy that can be redeemed via Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play or Fandango Now (it is not Movies Anywhere compatible). The discs/digital only contain a single short promotional featurette that gives a very quick glimpse behind-the-scenes with the cast/filmmakers.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- HD digital copy redeemable via Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play or Fandango Now (not Movies Anywhere compatible)
Digital (code may not be valid after 9/22/2021):
- The Secret on Set (4:34)
The cast and filmmakers talk about hows this project came about, what the The Secret book means to them in their life, and what attracted them to this project. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with author Rhonda Byrne (“The Secret”), director/writer Andy Tennant, and stars Jerry O’Connell (“Tucker”), Josh Lucas (“Bray”) & Katie Holmes (“Miranda”).
The Secret: Dare To Dream provides an entertaining and uplifting tale of how the power of positive thinking can help someone improve their life by daring to dream for what they want and making it happen. The all-star cast is great—it reminded me of how much I enjoy Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas in these kinds of roles. Lionsgate’s release looks and sounds great, but is skimpy on the bonus material. The release still comes recommended based on the quality of the film itself.