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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
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?
- On DVD or streaming: September 22, 2020
- Cast: Katie Holmes, Josh Lucas, Jerry O'Connell
- Director: Andy Tennant
- Studio: Gravitas Ventures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters
- Character strengths: Curiosity, Gratitude, Integrity
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: language and an injury image
- Last updated: September 21, 2020
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