January 30, 2013

Frequency (2000)
Starring Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid

Comments:   Frequency is such a special little movie.  In fact this is one of the rare movies on my countdown that I'm not actually sure is all that underloved at all.  For all I know, it could be the most beloved movie of the 2000's.  I don't -think- that it is, but I also didn't see it in the theater when it originally came out.  So I sort of missed if it was a really big deal or not.  

In any case, I apologize if billions of people already love this movie and if it is already considered one of the best movies of the 2000's.  My first child was born in 2000 and my wife and I didn't really follow what was happening in movies for the next five years.  For me, Frequency fell right into the dead zone that first time parents like to call "Baby Boot Camp."

Here is what I can tell you about Frequency.  

At some point after it came out, I remember hearing people saying that it was pretty good.  Not great, of course.  It was just sort of "Hey Mario, you should watch Frequency, it is a neat little movie."  It wasn't really at the top of my priority list.  It was one of those movies that I just sort of filed away in the back of my head.  I put it on the list of "some day when I am bored, maybe I will check this out at Blockbuster."  I didn't really know what it was.  I didn't really know what it was about.  All I knew was that it starred Dennis Quaid.  And I thought that was amazing since Dennis Quaid hadn't been relevant to anything in Hollywood since the late 80's.

If anything, when I thought of Frequency, I just thought "Hey, Dennis Quaid is finally making a comeback.  Cool."

Dennis Quaid is here!

Well let me tell you, when I saw Frequency for the first time I was just blown away.  This movie is AMAZING.   I had no idea it was that good.  And it became one of those movies that I quickly bought after only seeing it once.  Believe me, I buy very few movies after only one viewing.  That is a very special honor that is generally only reserved for movies like... well... I will probably talk about some of the other ones later.

But yeah Frequency just blew me away.  It wasn't just good, it was Field of Dreams level good.  They even both have a fairly strong baseball subplot.  This is the type of movie that guys (in particular) need to watch at least once.  It is unreal how emotional it is.  If you are a guy, there is a 90% chance that you will watch it and you will think about your childhood and cry.

Frequency is the story of a man named John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel).  He is a homicide detective in Brooklyn in 1999.  And he is not a particularly happy man.  He isn't married.  He doesn't have any kids.  He doesn't have any hobbies.  He doesn't have any sort of a girlfriend.  His life is just sort of empty.  All he really has in life is his work, and then nothing.  And a lot of that is probably because he grew up without a father.


John Sullivan

John with his beloved father in 1969

You see, John's father died when John was a little boy.  His father, Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid), was a heroic New York City firefighter who died in a fire back in the summer of 1969.  And this is something that has haunted John for the past thirty years.  All he has known for the past three decades has been emptiness and loneliness because he spent his whole life without any sort of a male role model.

Frank Sullivan in the last minutes of his life

Well one day in 1999, as John is digging around in his mother's closet, he comes across something extraordinary.  He finds his father's old ham radio.  This is the radio that his father spent countless hours fiddling around with and talking on back in the late 60's.  John finds the radio and he immediately remembers those days like they were yesterday.  He remembers sitting at his dad's side as his father would engage in conversations with complete strangers all across Brooklyn in 1968 and 1969.  He remembers the radio and he remembers how much fun those old days used to be.

So John brings the radio home, and in a bit of wistful nostalgia, he plugs it in.  And he waits to see if anybody out there still uses these silly old things.

John on his father's ham radio

Well this is where the movie gets magical.  Because pretty soon John runs across a guy on the radio named Frank.  And they start talking.

It turns out that Frank is a firefighter in Brooklyn.  It turns out that Frank has a son who sits by him that he calls "Little Chief."  It turns out that that little boy's name is John too.  Oh, and it turns out that Frank thinks that the year is 1969.

John is amazed when he realizes that, through some quirk in the space-time continuum, he is actually talking to his father.

Frank talking to his son 30 years in the future

Like I said before, Frequency is one of those movies that can make grown men break down and cry.  Seriously, this is a Field of Dreams level tearjerker.  If you are a male, and if you have ever had a father, it is going to get you, I can guarantee.  Because once John realizes that he can warn his father about his upcoming death, and he can actually change the course of history if he wants to, well then the movie just takes off.  That is when it goes down a fun little path with twists and turns and emotion and surprises and ramifications all over the place.

And of course I am not going to tell you what happens.  What fun would that be?  You will just have to watch Frequency for yourself.  See for yourself why I think it is so good.

By the way, that is a young George-Michael Bluth (Michael Cera) in the background.  No, not the singer-songwriter.

Even though this is technically a science fiction movie, it could really also be considered a time travel movie.  Or even a suspense movie.  It sort of fits into all three categories.  But in the end, what it really is is an amazing movie about fathers and sons.

And it stars Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid.  Or, as I like to call him, Dennis "The Comeback Kid" Quaid.

The chemistry between the two of them is absolutely amazing.

Oh and hey look, it's Juliet from Lost as John's mom

I don't really know what else I can say about this movie.  It is so good that I just wrote about it and now I want to go watch it again.  It is easily one of the most special and touching movies I have ever seen in my life.  I mean, good god, the first time that John gets to talk to an eight year old version of himself, try keeping a dry eye during that one.  And Dennis Quaid has never been better in a movie, ever.  It is ridiculous to think that he completely disappeared from movies for about a decade.

I'll always be behind ya, Little Chief

Again, I apologize if everyone already knows that Frequency is amazing and that everyone already loves it.  I don't -think- that is the case, based on how many times the word "underrated" appears in the IMDB user reviews.  But if it is the case, then I apologize.  Although honestly, if just one person discovers Frequency because of my review and they immediately fall in love with it, well then I will feel like this writeup was successful.

If ever there was a movie that needed to be loved by everyone, it is this one.  Frequency is really special.

Go Mets

* My favorite IMDB user reviews about Frequency:

This touching thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat with a tissue in your hand. - 3 December 2001
There are not enough movies that you can leave feeling touched, refreshed, and enlightened. So many films today don't bother to build strong characters that have a lasting effect. Frequency is such a wonderful movie because it incorporates a realistic father-son bond, and raw emotion into an action thriller. I must admit that I am not particularly drawn to action movies, but after seeing Frequency I have tried to change my attitude.

Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid are extremely believable as a son and his long-dead father. Caviezel's character cried when he first talked to his father that had been dead for thirty years. I cried, too, as he so believably yearned to be with his dad.

Another great thing about this movie is how intriguing the action sequences are. Not only are the usual chase scenes exciting, but the interesting psychological aspects of the movie also work extremely well.

If you have not seen Frequency, please do so, it is an excellent movie and I doubt you will regret seeing it. Although seeing it in a theater is the ideal place, the DVD is almost the same. You should enjoy this movie, it is a true classic, and I know I will never tire of watching it.

Stand up and Cheer!!! - 18 April 2000
You can't help it!! You have to cheer and applaud this movie. I can't remember the last time the whole audience clapped at the end of a movie. It has been such a long time since a movie was made that warmed your heart, while keeping you at the edge of your seat. This movie will make you laugh, get a little misty in the eyes, and you won't even notice the time. You're almost sad to see it end. Dennis Quaid is excellent, this is his best movie in years. This movie also has some new faces you won't soon forget. Don't take my word on this, see it yourself. You will be thinking about this movie for weeks.

Great, just great - 3 November 2012
This has remained one of my favourite movies. Time and time again, I have really enjoyed coming back to it.

What a great story too; due to a freak of nature John (Jim Caviezel) is able to talk to his dad Frank (Dennis Quaid) from almost thirty years in the past, on an old short-wave radio. Unfortunately, this is back when his dad was just about to have died, giving his life as a firefighter while trying to save someone trapped in a warehouse fire. While they're able to prevent this from happening, some unanticipated and undesirable changes in the time line also occur as a result.

The focus of the story is the relationship between father and son. While Dennis Quaid played his part well, for me, Jim Caviezel really stole the show. He plays the son, saddened by the loss of his father so many years ago, to perfection. Once they've realised who it is they're actually both speaking to, the look in his eyes during the more emotional scenes really says it all. Brilliantly done!

A bit of magic. - 19 February 2003
I fell in love with "Frequency" by accident. The film's original promo played up the 'change your destiny' aspect of the plot more than the father-son bond, and I guess I thought there'd be some souped-up DeLorean auto waiting in the wings to whisk people somewhere every 10 minutes. But this film is nothing like that. I lost my mother sixteen years ago and have only bonded stronger with my dad since then, and as such, relate to the film's subtler message of re-affirming ties with those you love the most. It doesn't hit on this immediately. When detective Caviezel first speaks to fireman Quaid, they are understandably confused and pseudo-annoyed with one other. Later, of course, the confusing 30-year paradox is revealed and a new relationship emerges. The 'duo-logue' which follows between father and son over the radio is a breathtaking scene, and when it comes to an end ("I'm almost afraid to turn this off- like we won't get this back"), I'm in tears (of joy) every single time. It seems that many critics were less than impressed with the story's sentiment (not surprising), but it's a wonderful little story which celebrates the nobler side of the human spirit. Buy. See.

exceptional reminder of the power of love and of film - 11 July 2009
I waited to add my two cents until I had seen this film several times to see if the overwhelmingly positive effect would wear off. I am pleased to report that it doesn't. Remarkably, the effect gets stronger with each exposure. This is without a doubt my favorite recent film. The performances are wonderful. This is Quaid's best after his early bloom and nothing he's done since can compare with it. Jim C, well, he is luminous. Indeed, every role is well and truly played. This one is special because it does what the Fountain and a number of other, recent "high concept" and "message" films try but usually fail to accomplish in any meaningful fashion. Frequency moves the heart through the experience of film. It teaches love and does so without relying on the tension of plot because as I discovered, it still works after ten viewings when the end is not in doubt and "what happens next" isn't why your eyes are fixed on the screen. The reason you watch yet again, still eager, is simple. It is because,well, because, there is never, never enough love and this is a way to find a bit more, every time.

Time twist - 22 February 2004
Awesome piece of writing, even if it requires the audience to suspend belief. Time-twisting threads can either leave one in amazed wonder of the possibilities or laughing on the floor at the ludicrousness of it. Here, Toby Emmerich (it's his only screenwriting credit of his career; he's a studio exec/producer predominantly) lays out a credible, well thought out story that's as tight as any time-twist tale could be.

A sweet but seemingly inconsequential line between the young parents of Johnny, frustrated at his failures in learning to ride a bike, came back to explain why the adult John may have been difficult to live with as a husband. "He just needs to know that you're behind him, (paraphrased)" says the mother to her husband. Well, the father wasn't because he dies the next day, and the vacuum is felt by an adult John.

The science of radio transmissions into the future/past can be suspended because there is sufficient poignancy and pathos between father-son, husband-wife, and between friends. It draws its strength from the Dennis Quaid-Jim Caviezel exchange as father-son -- two sympathetic, heroic characters attached at the heart.

Kudos to writer Emmerich and director Gregory Hoblit for pulling off one of the most satisfying movies I have seen.

Well filmed - 15 March 2003
Like reviewers said -- got heart & feeling in that everyday Joe, Frank Capra style. Maybe it's the post 9/11 thing but seeing the NYC fire scenes, esp around the harbor downtown, certainly made me wish there really was such a ham radio to use. I'd be somewhere else when I heard that first jet bomber come in fast, loud. and low in midtown.

Memories are a key to this film. Put the rational half on hold and just kick back with some real people in a story. This is a definite one for the Ages. Most likely candidate to be 21st Century's It's a wonderful Life.

* My favorite trivia about Frequency:

* In 1997 Renny Harlin was going to direct the film with Sylvester Stallone playing the lead, but Stallone asked too big paycheck and eventually neither Stallone or Harlin was involved in making the picture.

* All of the World Series facts were true in this film. The Mets Cleon Jones really did get hit on the shoe with a pitched ball. At first the umpire didn't award him first base but when Mets Manager Gil Hodges showed him the shoe polish on the ball the umpire changed his call and awarded him first base. It became known as the "Shoe Polish Incident".

* My favorite scene in Frequency:

Pick any scene where John and Frank are talking about their lives, especially the first time they meet on the radio.  That is some great writing.

Frequency at the IMDB

Frequency at Wikipedia

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