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'The Secret: Dare to Dream' review: Katie Holmes movie doomed by stiff acting, baffling plot

Katie Holmes as Miranda Wells and Josh Lucas

Katie Holmes as Miranda Wells and Josh Lucas as Bray Johnson in "The Secret: Dare to Dream."  Credit: Lionsgate/Alfonso “Pompo” Bresciani

MOVIE "The Secret: Dare to Dream"

WHERE On demand

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Yes, the best-selling self-help book about the power of positive thought has been turned into a movie starring Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas titled "The Secret: Dare to Dream." No, you haven't suddenly stepped into a time machine back to 2006.

The plot concerns Miranda Wells (Holmes), a single mom of three struggling to get by on her income working on crab boats (no need for a double take, that's her job).

Things start to change for the better after she smacks her minivan into a car driven by the handsome, mysterious Bray Johnson (Lucas), who promptly fixes her vehicle during a terrible storm, has a slice of pizza with the family and then decides to really stick around and fix her roof after a tree falls through it.

This deeply weird, senseless movie is now available for rental on demand at the steep price of $19.99. 

MY SAY If you're looking for 107 minutes of utter pabulum disguised as a motion picture with characters and a plot, well, you should "Dare to Dream" no more. "The Secret" is here for you, with some of the stiffest acting imaginable, some of the worst dialogue you've ever heard and a storyline that would be contemptible were it not utterly baffling.

"I think you and I collided for a reason," Bray says to Miranda. "Who's to say? Maybe we helped each other." 

That is the sort of nonsense that characterizes this movie from the filmmaker Andy Tennant, who is not exactly known as an auteur (his most noteworthy prior accomplishment is probably the Will Smith vehicle "Hitch"), but certainly has been much better than this.

No one is here to knock the philosophy behind "The Secret" — that the law of attraction shapes existence, and positive or negative thoughts manifest positive or negative outcomes. Experts with a far greater grasp of philosophical nuances than a simple movie critic have had plenty to say both pro and con about this ideology and what it represents.

But one thing is for sure: It does not make for an interesting movie. There is nothing compelling, or thoughtful, or emotionally stimulating about nice people doing nice things for each other and wondering what might be motivating such kind behavior.

The "secret" at the heart of the film beyond its touting of positive thought is a thin and obvious plot device that's not remotely as shocking as the filmmaker, who co-wrote the screenplay with Bekah Brunstetter and Rick Parks, wants it to be.

Holmes spends the entire movie looking pained. She's too smart for this. We know it, she knows it, and it's excruciating to watch her pretend that isn't true as she tries to make something out of the exceedingly dull Miranda.

Lucas is a very good actor who struggles mightily with a character that is less of a human being than an embodiment of an idea. The man simply does not know what to do with frenzied, emotional monologues about "coming up with an idea for an energy grid for office buildings," or vaguely tense conversations with Jerry O'Connell about roof construction.

O'Connell, by the way, plays a character named Tuck Middendorf. No good movie could ever have a character named Tuck Middendorf.

BOTTOM LINE Here's a little "secret" for you, the reader: This movie isn't worth five cents, let alone $19.99.

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