Tag Archives: Katie Holmes

Do Dream It, Be It

The Secret: Dare to Dream

by George Wolf

It might be a different type of faith-based flick, but Dare to Dream most definitely earns my usual disclaimer: judging these films is less about what they are preaching, and more about how well they tell a story.

Here, the gospel is the Law of Attraction, and the storytelling is unattractively dreadful.

The Secret first arrived nearly 15 years ago as a documentary and self-help book, both written by Rhonda Byrne, and each detailing how positive thinking can directly influence your life and bring you whatever it is you visualize.

Director/co-writer Andy Tennant (Hitch, Fool’s Gold) visualizes a narrative treatment that finds Vanderbilt professor Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas) ignoring hurricane warnings and driving down to New Orleans with an important message for one Miranda Wells (Katie Holmes).

Miranda is a widow with three kids, a boyfriend (Jerry O’Connell), and character development consisting of a succession of old graphic tees. She finds Bray before he finds her, by rear-ending him in traffic. Bray’s original mission is quickly sidetracked, and soon he’s fixing Miranda’s car, the hole in her roof, and whatever else his laid-back, dimpled philosophizing can help with.

Even before this handsome stranger effortlessly fascinates the wide-eyed Wells children with an example of how magnets work, not a lick of this bears any resemblance to real life.

Paper-thin characters recite banal dialogue carrying all the depth of a pop-up greeting card. Family strife about storm damage and money trouble is only dire enough to be a manufactured setup for Holmes to give a cute sigh and wonder, “What now??” while her kids pine for a computer or a pony.

Bray’s mission is never in doubt, and the film’s ultimate resolution becomes a tidy, manipulative pinch from the Nicholas Sparks playbook, right down to the throwing of a shameless trump card.

Whether you think The Secret is nothing but entitlement masquerading as feel good drivel, or a truly uplifting approach to finding happiness, a resonant film needs an attraction beyond preaching to the converted.

Or does it? Dare to Dream doesn’t really seem interested in finding out.

Friends to the End

Brahms: The Boy II

by Hope Madden

Wow. Who would have guessed that director William Brent Bell could drive his lackluster 2016 scary doll flick The Boy to a sequel? Not the half dozen or so of us who saw it.

But here you have it, Brahms: The Boy II is a real live movie.

Katie Holmes is in it. She plays Liza, concerned mum. She and her youngster Jude (Christopher Convery) survived a trauma and now they are recuperating, along with supportive dad Sean (Owain Yoeman), in an old English manner.

Jude finds this creepy doll buried outside, just his little white hand poking out from the ground. They take him inside and clean him up and keep him because they have never seen a horror movie.

If you have, you can definitely skip this one.

While there’s not a lot to like about Stacey Menear’s script, the problem here—as with his 2016 effort that began this whole killer plaything saga—feels more like poor direction. The story sets up a slight twist on a common horror theme: someone survives a traumatic experience only to find themselves in a potentially super natural circumstance. This begs the question, is this person insane, or is this super natural event really happening?

Scads and scads of horror films have wandered the psychological corridors of this premise. In this case, there are two possible crazies (both Liza and Jude). So, there is something here. We could twist throughout the film wondering, is this doll sentient evil? Is little Jude a budding maniac? Or is Liza suffering from PTSD and imagining it all?

We don’t wonder, though, because Bell clarifies the true culprit early and often. He’s so clear on the matter that the subsequent moments of Liza questioning her own sanity, or of Jude staring menacingly at his bully cousin, amount to an idiotic mishandling of material.

Ralph Ineson (The Witch) and his grizzled baritone make a quick appearance. There’s also a Google search or two—damn, horror movie Google searches deliver results, don’t they?! And how lucky to bump into that stranger in town who 1) asks where you live and, 2) happens to have all the info you’d ever need on the entire history of the home you’re renting. Too nutty!

But let’s be honest, do you even want to see this movie?

Hillbilly Heist

Logan Lucky

by George Wolf

You’re not long into director Steven Soderbergh’s latest before you expect to see Brad Pitt standing around eating something.


Because Logan Lucky is essentially Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 with hillbillies, which had to intrigue Soderbergh when he first read the script from Rebecca Blunt. If that is her real name.

No, seriously, Blunt is rumored to be a pseudonym for the actual writer, who should just ‘fess up and take credit for this hoot of a heist homage.

Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) gets laid off from his job fixing sinkholes underneath Charlotte Motor Speedway, so he puts together a 10-point plan for his next career move. Two of those points are labeled “shit happens.”

The rest is simple.

Jimmy, his one-armed brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and their sister Mellie (Riley Keough), will bust redneck robber Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) out of jail to help them rob the speedway during the biggest NASCAR race of the year, and then have Joe back in the slam before anyone is the wiser.

Soderbergh structures everything to parallel his Ocean‘s films so closely that when he finally addresses that elephant outright, the only surprise is how often the rubes draw a better hand than the Vegas pretty boys.

Logan serves up indelible characters, fun suspense, finely tuned plotting and solid humor, including a hilarious bit with a prison warden (Dwight Yoakam) explaining to some rioting inmates why the next Games of Thrones novel isn’t available yet.

As Bang, Craig is a flat out riot, doing fine justice to the best character name since Chest Rockwell, and standing out in an ensemble (also including Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Katherine Waterston, Hilary Swank and Sebastian Stan) that shines from top to toe.

Assembled as precisely as a letter-perfect grift, Logan Lucky has smarts, charm and some downright weirdness. It’s a late August blast with more than enough fun to beat our summertime blues.