A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there are some very tense scenes, with characters in peril, and that there are some grisly shots of dead bodies. A character drinks to anesthetize sorrow. There is a lot of smoking, though the movie makes it clear that smoking leads to lung cancer.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
John (James Caviezel), a policeman, is deeply sad in a way that isolates him from everyone around him, because of the loss of his firefighter father, Frank, 30 years ago. When John is able to talk to Frank (Dennis Quaid) over his old ham radio, John saves his father's life by warning him to turn the other way when trying trying to escape a fire. But in changing history, John and Frank have set into motion a chain of events that will result in an even deeper tragedy. The policeman and the fireman, 30 years apart, try to track a killer before he strikes very close to home. As every event in 1969 has ripple effects into 1999, only John can remember all of the parallel strands. Old newspaper clippings change before his eyes, and events from 30 years before change the way he sees the world in the present. Like George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, John gets to see how one person can make all the difference.
Is it any good?
In FREQUENCY, Caviezel perfectly conveys John's sense of loss and his integrity, subtly showing us how each set of experiences affected his behavior and his life in a different way. His talks with Frank are very moving. Quaid has his best role since The Big Easy and gets a chance to let viewers see his enormous charm in the character's devotion to his family and his job. As Frank's wife/John's mom, Elizabeth Mitchell is lovely, warm, and, in a scene with André Braugher as Frank's policeman friend, as strong and determined as her husband and son.
That said, things do get pretty confusing. This is one of those movies where the audience walks out saying things like, "Wait a minute! You mean when the guy came down the stairs it meant ... ?" "How did that other guy get there?" But it's good enough that, like The Sixth Sense, fans may want to watch again just to straighten it all out. Warning, though: It has some of the worst old-age make-up ever.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the interconnectedness of everything we do -- and don't do. Talk about the way that John and Frank made their talks about baseball into a way for them to feel close to one another. Watching this movie can also be a good opportunity to talk about how we tend to take precious family connections for granted until they're gone, and to ask family members what they'd say or ask if they had a chance to talk to someone close to them who has died. It can also be a good opportunity to remind us to say those things now, while we can.
- In theaters: April 28, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: October 31, 2000
- Cast: Dennis Quaid, Elizabeth Mitchell, James Caviezel
- Director: Gregory Hoblit
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language, intense and gory scenes, peril, and violence
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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