Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
I thought I already had a review of Frequency but I must have deleted it. So oh well, here we go again!
I'll never forget that fateful night in April of 2000. Somehow, I ended up at the movies. I almost never go to a movie without at first planning, but here I was. There were no flicks in particular that I had been setting my sights on, so I was left to the mercy of the posters. I stopped next to this one that had the aurora borealis (also known as, the Northern Lights) on it, and at the bottom, a silhouette of a father holding his son up in the air. It said, The future is in your hands. Sounded decent enough, so I slapped the five bucks down, and told the lady behind the counter, "One adult for Frequency."
Now this might sound a little crazy. But, you know how when you fall in love with someone, you can't hear their name without getting a warm feeling in your chest? Do you ever think that you just can't imagine a time when you ever would have said that person's name and NOT felt a little shaky when you did? That is exactly how I feel about this movie. Hey, I said it might sound crazy. I simply cannot imagine a time that I could have ever gone to the counter, said "One adult for Frequency", and not trembled with anticipation at the mere thought of what I was about to see.
So now that I've confessed my undeniable infatuation with this movie, I s'pose I could try to back it up.
Any movie dealing with time travel is going to interest me from the get go, because I love the concept. The twist with Frequency is that nobody actually travels through time. Information does.
Maybe I should back up a sec. We begin with a shot of some CGI solar flares, and the distant strain of Tommy James & The Shondells' "Crimson And Clover". We hear some assorted radio gibberish (which will later be relevant). A semi-trucker's fingers fiddle with the radio knobs. "Crimson And Clover" makes a short reappearance (or rea-hear-ance, so to speak), but before you know it, the semi tips over. The threat of an explosion ensues, and two guys are stuck right in the middle of it. This is where Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) makes his entrance. Heroic firefighter and diehard Mets fan, he will stop at nothing to save the life of a total stranger. Predictably, he bails them out at the last possible second, and the explosion is all that remains of this scene.
Now it's daytime, and we see Frank on a motorcycle, looking all big and bad. But because of his apparent heart of gold, you love him already. Martha & The Vandellas' "Heat Wave" plays appropriately in the background. A radio blares the tune from atop a refrigerator, and we see a woman dancing along with it while cooking dinner. Outside, the motorcycle badass pulls into the backyard. Over a chainlink fence, we see a little boy, John, toss him a baseball. He catches it and throws it back, picking up the little boy and spinning him around. Holding him high, Frank asks, "How's my little chief?" The camera moves upward, to the antenna on top of the house. The letters and numbers slowly materialize before us -- OCTOBER 1969.
Frank walks inside to his wife and takes her from behind. (It's a hug, guys!) As "Heat Wave" fades off the radio, we hear an actual announcer naming the song by title and artist. "Say, uh.." Frank turns off the radio. "How about a little of the King?"
"Yeah, why not a little of the King?" she responds. "Suspicious Minds" begins playing, and in the middle of their conversation, Frank rips off his baseball cap and starts singing to her... Because I love you, too much baby. The two begin dancing in the kitchen, much to the delight of their son John and his friend, who are watching from outside the screen door. Gosh, they don't make 'em like they used to.
Later, we see Frank puffing on a Marlboro full flavor, staring up at the Northern Lights over his house. This cuts into a euphoric shot of Northern Lights all over the Earth, with various ham radio conversations in the background. Back down we go, to that same antenna. The letters and numbers slowly materialize -- OCTOBER 1999
Same house, but strangely peaceful this time. A guy in his thirties stands at the window, puffing on a cigarette. Behind him, his girlfriend is packing her things and taking off.
As is revealed slowly and gracefully through the next several scenes, this is little John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel), and he is closing in on the 30th anniversary of his father's death. The vulnerable, helpless six-year-old still shows through when John talks to his still-living and still-single mother about programming VCR's, The Lion King, and wishing he had known his father better. Caviezel has obviously dealt with a lot of emotional pain throughout his life, which makes this role a cake walk for him. Man, he is something else.
Anyway, one night while John and his friend Gordo are discussing Yahoo, Gordo's son goes off to look for fishing gear and stumbles upon... ta-da!!! A gun! Hey hey hey, gimme that! He also finds something else, Frank's old ham radio. For old times' sake, the two break it out, hook it up and plug it in. A little tinkering around, but they don't have much luck finding anyone. It's junk, kid. Nobody uses those things anymore. Gordo's wife abducts him, leaving John alone to review the newspaper articles of his father's life and death for the thousandth time. It's right about then that he realizes he forgot to turn off the ham radio, and someone's voice can be heard on it.
"W2 QYV here, who have I got?"
"License to broadcast, buddy?"
"Look, I don't really remember how these things work."
"Well you can't broadcast without a license; unless this is an emergency, you're gonna have to get off the band."
"Hey pal, my whole life is an emergency."
(Pause) "Where ya transmitting from?"
This whole exchange, played on both sides with enthusiastic aplomb (Man I hate that word..lol!) is the opening pitch to a great game. When John finally does find out that it is his father from 30 years ago on the other end, only a day away from his untimely death, I guess you can imagine what John tries to do!
Frequency has charm, it has spirit, it has heart. It's because of this that I fell in love with it. These aren't heroes that act like everyday characters. They are everyday characters that act like heroes. It's all about a bond between father and son. It's about saving lives, facing consequences, and doing the right thing. It's the kind of movie that makes you think, if I found out I was going to die tomorrow, and then I somehow avoided it, what would I do with that day? God, I could do so much... Frank's "first day of the rest of his life" is a truly beautiful moment that must be seen to be believed.
Aside from the suspension of disbelief over the whole "talking across time" thing, Frequency is amazingly close to real life on all other counts. The characters' revelations, their reactions, and their dealings with the consequences of changing the past. If you're not paying real close attention, it's easy to miss how exactly some of it happens. But even still, you just accept it and go with it.
What starts as a simple father-son reunion evolves into a riveting murder mystery in which the mother becomes the victim of a serial killer. (Yeah, there is actually something I haven't spoiled!) Using information from the future, Frank tries to stop the guy. But it is only a matter of time before the killer starts noticing Frank around every time he's about to kill someone. Frank is late to one of the murders, someone spots him, and here come the cops. It looks like the past is completely wrecked!
How would YOU fix up this mix-up? Frequency has a series of answers from the mediocre to the ...uhh, sporty. You just gotta see it, 'cause it's almost impossible to get specific about what makes the film so great without spoiling integral plot points. Bottom line, it has a happy ending. Some have called it a "Chevrolet commercial" because of the accompaniment from Garth Brooks, but I loved the song.
Acting is stellar on the part of everyone, even the kids. Andre Braugher (who played Nicolas Cage's buddy Cassiel in City of Angels) successfully brings to life Satch, a fellow cop and friend of the family. Elizabeth Mitchell portrays a gentle and loving mother with a killer smile and some excellent "30 years later" makeup! And Noah Emmerich is as full of life as ever in his role as best friend and next door neighbor, the perfect kind of guy to hang out, grill burgers and have a brewsky together.
The Reality Wall
You know what this is. It's when you know you're supposed to feel a certain way at the end of a movie scene or a song. But because you know you're supposed to feel something, you don't. That's the Reality Wall. Frequency shattered mine, especially on the second viewing when I was able to take in the small details and understand the whole picture better. I lost myself. Unfortunately, that which doesn't kill the reality wall makes it stronger. I'm beginning to believe the only way to completely destroy the reality wall is to kill yourself. But let's not be doing that now.
Go see this one, seriously!
Frequency DVD Features
Standard stuff here. A few great deleted scenes, bookoos of commentary on ham radios and the Northern Lights and time dimensions and stuff. There is also a director's commentary that you can have playing over the entire movie! I haven't heard the whole thing yet, but what I did hear had little to do with the movie and mostly with the subject of firefighters and cops, their jobs, and how many of the real NYC firefighters opted to "play" in the movie to give it a more authentic feel. Interesting stuff nonetheless. Now that I have heard more of it, I can tell you that it starts getting really good later on!
How do you prove that there is more than one time dimension?
This doesn't have much to do with the movie but I had to tack it on anyway, because the movie frequently uses objects falling in slow motion as a sort of "symbolism" when something dramatic happens that changes the past.
I like the way they used gravity to emphasize this, because I think gravity is how you prove that there is more than one time dimension. Incase you slept through Physics, gravity is measured in a unit such as meters per second squared, or meters divided by seconds squared.
What the hell is a second squared? Well, a line is one dimension and a square is two dimensions, maybe it's the second dimension of time. There ya go. It was there all along. What can you DO with it? I have no idea, but it's interesting to think that one exists, even if it only exists as the denominator of a fraction.
If there were some way to find out what the denominator of a fraction equates to on a physical level, that might be a way to find the other dimensions of time, to channel them, or something. But at this point, I don't even know myself what in the name of Sir Isaac H. Newton I am talking about.
Top 10 Frequency Quotes
10.) "So what did you do, you join the department?" Frank
"Actually, I went the other way. I'm a cop." John
(both laughing) "Cop? You're third generation firefighter, come on I thought you were going to grow out of that cop stage!" Frank
9.) "Shoulda woulda coulda, pal." John
8.) "You work too hard." Julia
"Look who's talking." John
7.) "You went down thirty years ago, pal. You just don't know it yet." John
6.) "Now this is important, something you gotta remember for the next thirty years... Yahoo." John
"What's that?" Gordo
"Well it's like a magic word, like Abracadabra. Try it out, kid, Yahoo." John
"You got it, space cowboy. Now go upstairs and write it down." John
5.) "Everyone's got skeletons in the closet, you never know when they're gonna jump out and bite you in the ass." John
4.) "Hey listen, a thousand years from now when schoolkids study about America, they're gonna learn about three things. The Constitution, rock and roll, and baseball." Frank
3.) "Hey, pal, my whole life is an emergency." John
2.) "I'm still here, chief." Frank
1.) "Nothing wrong with old age, Frank, long as you get there." Julia
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12