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

‘Brahms: The Boy II’ Throws It in Reverse

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CREDIT: STX Films

Oh, Brahms-y boy, Brahms-y boy, Brahms-boyyyyy

(I promised myself that no matter how I ultimately felt about this movie, I would start off my review of Brahms to the tune of “Danny Boy,” so I pray that you were able to indulge me for a few seconds.)

To my eye, the biggest twist of Brahms: The Boy II is that it was written and directed by the same writer-director combo as the first Boy (a couple of folks named Stacey Menear and William Brent Bell, respectively). The original explained the antics of its creepy doll by assuring us that what seemed supernatural actually had a reasonable explanation. But in the sequel, what seems like it will have a reasonable explanation is actually supernatural. That sort of switch is not atypical in horror franchises, but it’s usually dictated by studios scrambling to extend a property and/or a new creative team applying a fresh coat of paint. Perhaps Menear and Bell chose to take a self-aware approach and get ahead of the inevitable or maybe they just never felt married to any one particular way of doing things. Whatever the motivation, it makes me optimistic that The Boy could become a long-running low-budget horror series even if it never reaches any significant heights. After all, while Brahms gave me more to think about than I was expecting, most of it is still just a series of waits for a piece of porcelain to move a few inches every once in a while.

I give Brahms: The Boy II A Hearty Pat on the Back.

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 2/21/20

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CREDIT: James Minchin/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Brahms: The Boy II (Theatrically Nationwide) – Boy, I don’t know if this’ll be any good, but I’m rooting for Katie Holmes.
The Call of the Wild (Theatrically Nationwide) – Harrison Ford + (CGI) Dog = A Good Time?
Emma. (Limited Theatrically)

TV
Fresh Off the Boat Series Finale (February 21 on ABC)
Better Call Saul Season 5 Premiere (February 23 on AMC)

Music
-Best Coast, Always Tomorrow
-Grimes, Miss_Anthrop0cene

This Is a Movie Review: Steven Soderbergh and the ‘Logan Lucky’ Crew Pull Off a Heist at the Biggest Race of the Year

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Credit: Claudette Barius / Fingerprint Releasing | Bleecker Street

This review was originally published on News Cult in August 2017.

Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Dwight Yoakam, Seth MacFarlane, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Katherine Waterston, Hilary Swank

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Running Time: 119 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Improvised Explosives and Slapstick Violence, Often Involving a Prosthetic

Release Date: August 18, 2017

If you follow the sports world, you will have noticed lately the several examples of the wonders that taking significant time off does towards extending a career. Roger Federer and Serena Williams, perhaps the two greatest tennis players of all time, have taken months-long breaks and at ages 36 and 35, respectively (ancient by athletic standards), they are still somehow in the primes of their careers. The physicality of sports and filmmaking are not exactly the same, but both can be similarly taxing. So while it is right to question the accuracy of Steven Soderbergh’s claim that he was retiring from directing, it is not right to question the wisdom of what he was actually doing, i.e., taking a nice, long, relaxing break, as Logan Lucky is the type of film that you make only when you are bursting with energy.

Logan is Soderbergh’s first directorial effort since 2013’s Side Effects and the HBO film Behind the Candelabra, but in premise, it most obviously brings to mind his Ocean’s trilogy. Recently unemployed West Virginia coal miner Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) recruits his one-armed Iraq War vet bartender brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough), along with incarcerated bleached-blonde demolitions expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and Joe’s supposed computer expert brothers Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson), to rob the cash deposits at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600, the longest annual race on the NASCAR calendar. So it is basically a hillbilly Ocean’s 11 (Logan’s 6, if you will), and that connection is referenced head-on with a sneakily well-timed joke. Now, don’t let that description fool you into thinking that this film looks down on the people that populate it. Its particular strength is how thoroughly and empathetically each character is rendered, despite their colorful personalities offering an easy temptation for stereotypes.

Accordingly, every actor is given plenty of opportunities to stretch, with Soderbergh guiding them along to their best instincts. Keough shines in her accounting of the West Virginia highway system, Driver is wholly convincing with his unassuming one-armed bartending prowess, Seth MacFarlane is Snidely Whiplash-levels ridiculous as a luxuriously coiffed, arrogant driver, Farrah Mackenzie (as Jimmy’s young daughter Sadie) charms enough to somehow make pageant culture a little less nauseating than usual, and when Special Agent Hilary Swank shows up, she makes an all-business demeanor just as much fun as criminality. But the biggest praise is rightfully reserved for Craig, who is delightfully unhinged in the friendliest way possible, as well as Dwight Yoakam, as a warden whose loss of control of his prison amazingly involves the most hilarious taking to task of George R.R. Martin I have ever witnessed.

The conflict of heist movies is such that their cool vibes always goad you into rooting for the criminals. While these robbers typically are not violent, and often target the most powerful and greediest, they are in fact still criminals. The fact that these are just movies should be enough to remove any feelings of moral crisis. But in case you want more than that, there is a Robin Hood-style resolution. Your mileage may vary on what that means in terms of ethical implications, but there is no doubt that it contributes to the good vibes.

Logan Lucky is Recommended If You Like: Heist Films, Southern-Fried Flavor, Feeling Pumped When You Walk Out of the Theater

Grade: 4 out of 5 Painted Cockroaches