The Secret: Dare to Dream

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
The Secret: Dare to Dream Movie Poster Image
Self-help book inspires so-so romance; some peril.
  • PG
  • 2020
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Positive messages about power of positive thinking: Even bad events/circumstances can lead to better things, and you get what you give. But you could say that main character's financial struggles -- and eventual change of situation -- make iffy argument that men, more than positive thinking, are how she's rescued.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Full of well-intentioned characters, all of whom show kindness, integrity, gratitude. However, the film lacks diversity in its casting. One character is a shepherd of sorts, leading by example. Other characters indulge their curiosity, demonstrate gratitude.


Moments after a plane crash, a character is seen in distress with a bloody wound.


Storyline involves a mother's impending wedding and romantic tension. A meaningful kiss.


Mild language includes "damn," "hell," "screw" (no sexual connotation) and "stupid" (not directed at a person). "Oh my God" is used as an exclamation.


Many brands are mentioned or seen in background with labels displayed: Advil, Apple, Ben & Jerry's, Coca-Cola, FedEx, Ford, Land Rover. Based on a book that spawned its own associated cottage industry.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink wine, beer, champagne in social situations and to relieve stress.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Secret: Dare to Dream is a romance based on Rhonda Byrne's 2006 bestselling self-help book, The Secret, about the law of attraction's power to shape a person's life. Revolving around a family whose members believe they're unlucky, the film aims to shift perception to show that "you get what you expect" and that bad things can lead to good outcomes. Conversations about those ideas are often delivered to kids and expressed in a way they can understand, without much "magical thinking" terminology. In fact, as much as "manifestation" is the whole point of the movie, that word is never mentioned -- nor is "the power of attraction," and there's only one utterance of "the universe." Rather, the movie is focused on seeing life through a positive rather than negative lens. On the other hand, the film gets somewhat in the way of its own message, because the main character (Katie Holmes) is struggling financially, and you could argue that the story has men, more than positive thinking, rescuing her on several occasions. A flashback scene includes the moments after a plane crash; the survivor is bleeding and in peril, but no other carnage is seen. You can also expect a bit of mild language ("damn," "hell"), social drinking, and light romance, with only one substantial kiss.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysundayschild88 November 9, 2020

LOT of swearing

We watched this based on CSM review claiming that there were 2 swear words. What they DON'T say is HOW MANY TIMES they are used! Really, there should be... Continue reading
Adult Written bylindsmariewilliams7 November 13, 2020

Under Directs the Point

It's a beautiful funny little family film. However for a film that could introduce the notion of 'The Secret' (it's strengths and weaknesses... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byAGClyde April 11, 2021

I agree

I think reviews should state a quantity and severity of swearing. I mean, a lot of live action PG, like this one, have some minor cussing. This movie is alright... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old January 1, 2021

Good movie with some romance

A poor family with three kids and no father meet a man who brings a strange envelope. Later on he falls in love with there mother...

What's the story?

Adapted from Rhonda Byrne's similarly titled bestselling self-improvement book, THE SECRET: DARE TO DREAM stars Katie Holmes as Miranda Wells, a widow who's struggling to raise three kids on her own. When a hurricane hits her Louisiana town, a stranger named Bray (Josh Lucas) comes to her aid, carrying with him a secret wisdom that changes her family's life forever.

Is it any good?

You could call this low-conflict lollygagger Intro to Manifestation, given that its purpose seems to be to intrigue viewers who are new to the concept of "The Secret." The Secret is about believing that the universe is a genie of sorts: Believe you can have or achieve something, and you will. Or, as Secret-follower Bray explains to Miranda's kids: Your thoughts are like a magnet, using an invisible force to draw what you think about to you. To the unfamiliar, it may sound like a bunch of new-age mumbo-jumbo -- or, as the kids' grandmother says to Vanderbilt professor Bray, "Are you sure you're not from California?" However, the way The Secret: Dare to Dream lays it out, it's more about your attitude. Think positive. Believe in yourself. And, as the title indicates, it's OK to be a dreamer. 

Just like Byrne's original how-to book, money and material goods are the rewards of using The Secret. It's less noticeable here -- Miranda has significant financial debts she's trying to dig out from under -- but, ultimately, even a child's grandiose wish comes true, which might make parents a bit uncomfortable. And it's hard to overlook a giant common-sense hole in the story. Bray didn't really have to be so mysterious, and you're going to have to suspend your disbelief to really enjoy this film. It's hard to prove that a life theory works in the context of a fictional story, so the messaging is a bit weak. But, then again, the point seems to be to get audiences to go do some research and likely buy the manual. While the content is family friendly, most kids and teens aren't that interested in middle-age romance. Bottom line? The Secret: Dare to Dream is a nice but not terribly entertaining film that does no harm -- nor does it do as much good as it intends.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their beliefs in The Secret's ideas about "the law of attraction," manifestation, and the power of positive thinking. Do you agree with the movie's position? Why or why not?

  • The book that inspired this movie has also been made into a documentary. If you're trying to get a message across, what are the advantages and disadvantages of filmed nonfiction vs. fiction?

  • What do you think the filmmakers want you to take away from watching this movie? How does it promote gratitude, integrity, and curiosity?

  • Is the drinking in the film glamorized? Do you think showing typical real-life use -- offering someone a beer who volunteered to help, celebrating with champagne at a party, or having wine in the afternoon while visiting family -- promotes alcohol use?

  • Of all the film genres available, why do you think the inspirational book was adapted into a romance? How does this film compare to other romance movies you've seen?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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