(director/writer: Andy Tennant; screenwriters: based on “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne/Bekah Brunstetter/Rick Parks; cinematographer: Andrew Dunn; editor: Troy Takaki; music: George Fenton; cast: Katie Holmes (Miranda),  Josh Lucas (Bray), Celia Weston (Bobby), Jerry O’Connell (Tucker), Sarah Hoffmeister (Missy), Aidan Pierce Brennan (Greg Wells), Chloe Lee (ess Wells); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Robert Cort, Rhonda Byrne, Paul Hanson, Joe Gelchion, Matthew George, Robert Katz; Lionsgate Home Entertainment; 2020)

Despite the book getting an Oprah recommendation, it’s no secret the book stinks and the film is even more of a stinker.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A cruddy lightweight magical romantic drama based on Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 self-help book “The Secret.” The “Secret” is how to use positive thinking to make your life better. This means if you want something that much you must think about it hard enough and you’ll get it.  It’s sloppily written and directed by filmmaker Andy Tennant (“Ever After”/”Hitch”), with co-writers Bekah Brunstetter and Rick Parks turning in some dreadful dialogue.

Despite the book getting an Oprah recommendation, it’s no secret the book stinks and the film is even more of a stinker. I found the middling film merely a time killer, one whose convoluted story tries to get by with a few unintentional dumb laughs and has little else going for it.

Miranda (Katie Holmes) is a financially struggling recent widow in her thirties, who works at a fish market in New Orleans and has three kids– Missy (Sarah Hoffmeister), Greg (Aidan Pierce Brennan) and Bess (Chloe Lee). Her fish market boss is also her current boyfriend (Jerry O’Connell). Her mother-in-law (Celia Weston) is a caring person who is concerned about her.

Miranda worries because she can’t afford a computer as a birthday gift her daughter or to have money for home maintenance for her run-down house. Another blow for the already stressed-out lady is getting into a fender-bender accident. But things turn out alright when the other car belongs to this friendly handsome bachelor stranger, Bray (Josh Lucas), who says he will repair her car bumper for free. When a hurricane damages the pretty woman’s home, the handsome Bray offers to also fix the house for free.

From hereon the story is safely bizarre and totally predictable, and comes with a contrived happy ending in the third act, whereby her dream comes true.

If you want my free advice, do yourself a favor and skip it. Holmes uses her charm to get by such an unrealistic soap opera story. But don’t skip it if you’re someone who has a sweet-tooth for Holmes, she’s trying hard to make such crud work.

The Secret: Dare to Dream