“Shoulda, woulda, coulda, pal.”
The Scoop: 2000 PG-13, directed by Gregory Hoblit and starring Dennis Quaid, Jim Caviezel, and Shawn Doyle
Tagline: The Future Is Listening
Summary Capsule: Separated by 30 years, a father and son try to save their family from all sorts of bad stuff.
Justin’s rating: What if… I was an actual person?
Justin’s review: God bless New Line Cinema for taking chances where other film studios don’t dare to tread. Sure, New Line comes out with their fair share of bombs and splendid bits of overacting (Blade), but they seem to be constantly surprising me lately with movies that look “okay”, but end up being excellent sleeper hits.
Case in point, Frequency. At a glimpse, it looked like a little gimmick movie – son in the 90’s can talk to his dead father back in the 60’s – that they would milk for all it’s worth. But not only did they do this premise extremely well, this flick kept throwing in new themes and ideas until we had the ultimate Home Shopping Network special: Six films for the price of one. I’ve done you the favor of splitting these up to give you a good idea of what Frequency holds in store.
1. An Action Film: The opening sequence, with shifting credits, some pounding music, and racing firetrucks, was anything but expected. Fans of Backdraft and the like will be joyed to see a really cool firefighting scene (Yay racing balls of fire! Though you never catch our heroes, we still love you) – and yet again, another fire & rescue later in the movie.
2. A Time Traveling/Sci-Fi Film: Our hero, a beat cop named John Sullivan (James Caviezel) discovers that by using a ham radio during a bizarre case of Aurora Borealis allows him to communicate with his father (Dennis Quaid) 30 years in the past.
As previously mentioned, this could’ve been extremely gimmicky or really confusing or both, but it goes down smooth like butter. Even though it’s just voices traveling through time, the technique is so eerie that I got chills. We run into conventional time traveling paradoxes – mainly cause and effect stuff – which is integrated into the story fairly well, as long as you don’t examine it too closely.
I also liked the dichotomy between the 1960s storyline and 1990s storyline; the film makes the jumps back and forth with ease, and I was never confused as to the time period I was watching. The sixties era was recreated nicely and with flavor (none of this Back to the Future “look! you’re in the past and there are anachronisms everywhere!” stuff).
3. A Father/Son Bonding Film: Men, sell your girlfriends/wives on this point. The film does allow itself to descend into sentimentality at points. It was actually cool to see a movie endorse a healthy family relationship, and John’s opportunity to connect with the father he barely had can be touching. Remember, emotions. Girls like this stuff.
4. A Murder Mystery Film: As to not get TOO emotional, throw in a serial killer into the mix that ends up offing John’s mother in an alternative time line. There’s some time spent tracking this killer down, and while it certainly wasn’t the film’s strong point, it does create a few freaky and suspenseful moments.
5. A Baseball Film: That’s right, baseball. Key plot points revolve around the sport, particularly with the “Amazin’ Mets” and the 1969 World Series. I liked how you could get a sense of how inspiring and intense baseball could be in America, and it’s a bit of a shame that we lost some of that.
6. McGuyver: Okay, not technically a film nor a major part of Frequency, but Dennis Quaid does seem to be quite the handyman, particularly in one escape scene.
So there you have it. Not a perfect movie, but it has so much going for it that it won me over within the first ten minutes. There’s even enough laughs to have Frequency considered as a lite comedy (ham radios are described to a kid as what the world got in touch before the Internet). Dennis Quaid does a bang-up job (and it helps that he wears a leather bomber jacket and rides a big hog), and this film will help him receive more attention. The moral of this whole review? You could do a lot worse to see Frequency, particularly if you’re in a dating-type situation. Emotions! They just eat that up…
- John’s turning 30 prompts him to mention the film Logan’s Run, where 30-year-olds are killed. Another film where this motif is featured was the splendid Free Enterprise.
Frank: What do you say we tame this bronco, han? You and me. Spirit ‘n guts.
If you liked this movie, try these: