Dear Frankie

  • Review Date: December 21, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Moody but uplifting tale of deaf boy. Get your tissues!
  • Review Date: December 21, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 105 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Frankie is surrounded by people who care about him. He does not talk, but is able to communicate with the people who take the time to listen to him. His mother loves him to the extent that she will lie to protect him from his violent past.

Positive role models

Frankie's mom and grandmother are strong women who say little and feel much. They protect Frankie from bullies and encourage him to be strong.


There's mention of the abuse Frankie's dad imposed on his family. The abuse resulted in Frankie's hearing loss.


Kissing among adults, some bawdy language.


"Jesus Christ," "bitch,"" f--k," (used twice), "hell."

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

European rules for smoking and drinking -- it's pretty much a fact of life. Grandma asks Frankie to get cigarettes for her at the pub. He tries to buy them, but is not allowed to purchase them. Adults get tipsy and act silly, but not inappropriate, per se.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a moody portrayal of a deaf boy named Frankie. Issues of abuse and domestic violence are touched upon here. There are sad moments and moments of surprising devotion. There's some profanity, including two uses of the f-word, as well as drinking and smoking. The movie could be too emotionally intense for sensitive kids, so parents might want to prescreen.

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What's the story?

Frankie (Jack McElhone) is packing boxes; his mother (Emily Mortimer) is on the move again. He writes to his father about his new life in Glasgow -- the bullies in his class, his mother's loneliness, his dreams of the sea. But rather than reaching his far-away father, Frankie's letters are being read and responded to by his mother, who has been corresponding as Frankie's father for years. When the ship that Frankie's dad is supposedly sailing on comes to harbor, she has to think fast to keep up the charade. Enter a tall, dark stranger ( Gerard Butler) who stands in as Frankie's dad for a day. Whether Frankie finds out who his dad really is hangs in the balance. Will the kindness of strangers prevail? Or will Frankie be crushed when he discovers the truth?

Is it any good?


An utterly lovely portrait of the inner lives of people, this film holds some nice surprises. Not the least is the quiet, almost noble presence of Gerard Butler as a stand-in dad. The edgy topics of domestic abuse are hardly talked about, yet in the end, the viewer realizes that everything revolves around how this mother protects her son. Though not as widely released as Billy Elliot, fans of the hard-knock story will appreciate this release.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it's like to grow up with a disability. How does Frankie cope with his deafness? Why won't he speak? When he speaks, what does he say?

  • Frankie's world is pretty low-tech -- his mom goes to the phone booth to make a call, and Frankie writes letters to communicate his feelings and his thoughts. Kids are essentially doing the same thing when they use digital media -- reaching out to those in their sphere -- except the answers are immediate. Here's a look at how connected kids are today.

  • The adults in this movie are smoking constantly. They are not alone. Did you know that 70% of all PG-13 movies have smoking in them? Read more, here.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 5, 2004
DVD release date:June 5, 2005
Cast:Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, Sharon Small
Director:Shona Aeurbach
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13

This review of Dear Frankie was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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