I Have My Doubts That Anyone Thought ‘The Secret: Dare to Dream’ Into Existence

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The Secret: Dare to Dream (CREDIT: Lionsgate)

Starring: Katie Holmes, Josh Lucas, Jerry O’Connell, Celia Weston, Sarah Hoffmeister, Aidan Brennan, Chloe Lee, Katrina Begin

Director: Andy Tennant

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: PG for Life in Debt

Release Date: July 31, 2020 (Premium Video on Demand)

If I follow the advice of Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 best-selling self-help book The Secret, then it shouldn’t be too difficult for me to write a great movie review. All I have to do is think about it and it will surely come to be if I want hard enough. But I’m not sure I want to write a great review about The Secret: Dare to Dream, the thoroughly blah adaptation of Byrne’s book. I’d much rather visualize myself watching any other movie and writing a review about that instead. What does The Secret have to say about how to power yourself through a less-than-inviting obligation? Based on Dare to Dream, I have no idea. But I can tell you for sure that this wasn’t the movie I visualized when I heard they were making another fictional narrative out of an advice book.

There’s one scene early in the film in which a pizza delivery arrives after everyone else imagines it. (It turns out that someone they know sent it as a surprise.) But other than that moment, I don’t see how this adaptation demonstrates the principle of its source material. That’s not necessarily a problem. Even if it fails in that regard, it can still be entertaining. But alas, it fails in that regard as well, as it is a rather mundane story about a down-on-their-luck family who experience a little bit of luck after a stranger (who maybe isn’t a stranger) suddenly arrives in their lives.

That family would be the widowed Miranda (Katie Holmes) and her three kids, who find themselves wondering what the deal is with wandering handyman Bray, who is played by Voice of Home Depot Josh Lucas. Bray carries with him some Very Important Documents that almost definitely have something to do with Miranda’s dead husband. He was planning on showing them to her as soon as they met, but he decides instead to hang around for a bit and fix up her house after a hurricane tears through it. He also stays because he just has a … feeling. You know, one of those “the universe is trying to tell me something” feelings. That contrivance lasts long enough for Miranda to realize that she isn’t in love enough with her boss (Jerry O’Connell) to marry him, even though he’s a swell guy who looks after her and the kids. Then when the truth comes out about why Bray is really there, Miranda feels betrayed, which I guess makes sense, but it also comes off as overwrought and perfunctory. Even more perfunctory is the moment when she sees the whole picture and decides to give Bray another chance.

To make a movie actually come into being, it really does require a lot of believing that it can actually happen. Considering that The Secret: Dare to Dream is based on that very principle, it’s a little sad to see that the result is so thoroughly right-down-the-middle.

The Secret: Dare to Dream is Recommended If You Like: Pretending you’re watching another movie so hard that it actually happens

Grade: 1.5 out of 5 Banalities

Mini-Movie Review: ‘Poms’ is Stranger Than It Probably Means to Be, and That’s a Good Thing

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Starring: Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman, Pam Grier, Celia Weston, Alisha Boe, Charlie Tahan, Phyllis Sommerville, Bruce McGill

Director: Zara Hayes

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Mild Senior Sauciness and a Surprising Amount of Casual Misogyny

Release Date: May 10, 2019

Even though I’ve known that Poms is about senior citizen cheerleaders ever since I first heard about it, its title has mostly made me think about POM Wonderful, which of course had me wondering: would this movie be as wonderful as its juicy almost-namesake? (I also thought about French actress Pom Klementieff, but I knew that punniness wouldn’t lead me quite as far.) While I would hardly go so far as to praise Poms as “wonderful,” the POM connection still feels appropriate, as it is the sort of drink I would have on a relaxing Friday evening at my parents’ house, the perfect setting setting for watching something like Poms that we didn’t feel the need to rush out to the theater for. The journey of Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, and the rest of their retirement community squad never makes much of a lick of sense, which is not necessarily a problem because this isn’t the sort of premise I demand too much logic out of. But even beyond the fact of women in their sixties, seventies, and eighties pulling off whatever acrobatics they can, Poms strains credulity with its sneakily bizarre dialogue. Thus, there is a whiff of (probably accidental) surrealism that pairs well with girl-power-at-any-age gumption and helps to patch over the straight-down-the-middle production values.

Poms is Recommended If You Like: Legendary actresses getting work into their seventies

Grade: 3 out of 5 Shimmies