Droid defines the decades best movies – #21 Frequency (2000)

I’ve had to make room for a couple of recently seen movies that have shoulder barged their way into my Top 20.  And since I’ve already toiled away at a few reviews, I’ve now expanded this list to 21.  Can’t let my talent go to waste now can I?  So with out further ado, here is the first entry in my epic journey through a ton of absolute shit to find the best movies of the decade.  Enjoy.

frequency poster I love time travel movies.  ‘Back to the Future’ is my favourite movie of all time.  I love them beyond all sense and reason.  They are usually bunk filled nonsense, but when done even remotely well, they are very entertaining and loads of fun.  I don’t know if I’d call ‘Frequency’ a time travel movie per se, because there’s no actual travelling between time periods, but it does play with time and the effect that changing the past can have on the future.  Or present.  Whatever. It’s similar to ‘The Butterfly Effect’ (which was made after this), except that it’s not shite and it doesn’t have an annoying twat in the lead.

It’s 1969 and hero firefighter Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) is living the life.  He’s got a wife and kid that adore him, he’s outrunning fireballs for a living, cruising around on his hog, and watching his beloved New York Mets in the World Series.  In 1999, detective John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) is a bit of a loser.  He likes the sauce a bit too much, his long-suffering girlfriend’s just walked out and he presumably doesn’t have a penis because he’s unable to program a VCR.  See it seems John never got over the day his old man tried to outrun one fireball too many and got cindered in a warehouse fire.

quaid When his friend Gordo (Noah Emmerich) lets his kid (a very young Michael Cera) rifle through old Franks stuff, he comes across his ham radio (and a nicely set up shotgun; Show it to the camera, please. Remember it, okay?  It just might come back again later).  Showing inexplicable interest in the radio, the kid demands it be set up.  Not that anyone uses that technology anymore, except for Candy Cane of course.  Due to some sort of sun spot/aurora borealis gobbledegook in both time periods, the voice on the other end of the line is indeed John’s dad Frank.  No, it’s not zombie Frank Sullivan.  It’s the real one! In 1969!  John manages to warn Frank about the warehouse fire, which saves his life and alters the timeline in more ways than one. In this alternate timeline, a killer called ‘The Nightingale’ didn’t die (the wife is a nurse and saved him from OD’ing), and has continued to claim victims, including Julie Sullivan, beloved wife and mother and the killers saviour!  The father and son race against time (the ‘sun spots’ could disappear at any time) to find the killer and save her life.  Or return history to it’s former self, except keeping the part where Frank’s alive.  Or alter history so that she’s not dead, Franks alive and the killers dead.  Or whatever.

caviezel ‘Frequency is by no means a flawless movie. It can get a bit sentimental (particularly the very treacly ending), and its plot is chock full of holes.  It’s nonsense of the highest order. There are quiet a few odd choices in this movie that I could use to pick this movie to pieces with (the fact that the wood on the table smokes in 1999, when Frank burns it in 1969, for one).  But the whole thing is so much fun that I really don’t care.  You either go with it, or you don’t.  I did.

This, for an outsider, feels like as American a film as you can get.  It’s set in New York, the heroes are firemen and cops, baseball is all anyone seems to do in their spare time, there’s rock n’ roll on the radio, and the central theme is that quintessential American obsession, reconciling with your pop.  What is it about fathers and sons bonding over baseball that gets the Yanks in such a tizzy?  Three films immediately quaidcaviezelspring to mind that deal with this phenomenon. This, ‘City Slickers’ and ‘Field of Dreams’. And that’s just off the top off my head. It’s strange, but hey, I like all three of those moves so maybe it gets me in a tizzy too.

At one stage during the development of ‘Frequency’, Renny Harlin was set to direct and Sylvester Stallone was to star, in what would’ve been a completely different movie (double the budget apparently).  Now I like Renny and Sly as much as the next guy, but not for this.  Imagine young John getting on the line and hearing Sly croaking back at him?

Once he tones down the Noo Yawk accent a bit, Mr. Reliable Dennis Quaid is his usual self, playing the confident, tough, and determined character that he has perfected over the years (and mostly only seems to play now).  Jim Caviezel puts in a good performance as the cry-baby boozehound and Shawn Doyle as ‘The Nightingale’ is suitably creepy, if a bit underdeveloped.

quaid2 Gregory Hoblit, who directed the great ‘Primal Fear’, wisely accelerates past trying to explain the ridiculous nature of the plot, and instead expects you to accept it.  This is a wise choice.  Getting too bogged down in explanations in a time travel movie will ruin any suspension of disbelief we are willing to muster.  These two can talk thanks to the sun spot or whatever it is.  Who cares?  On with the show.

I strongly doubt that this would get anywhere near most peoples ‘Best of’ list, but I don’t care.  It’s my list.  Go make your own.  I love it.  If you can look past the flaws and go with it, there’s a lot of fun to be had with ‘Frequency’.  If not, you’re a cold-hearted bastard with no imagination.  Or something like that.


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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

37 responses to “Droid defines the decades best movies – #21 Frequency (2000)”

  1. M. Blitz says :

    Shoulder barge!! You gonna let those movies push you around like that?
    He can’t help it, the droid can’t help it!

    But yeah, it’s hard to narrow down the list. My own is long and without reason, and whenever I try to whittle down, I just end up adding to it.

    “It’s similar to ‘The Butterfly Effect’ (which was made after this), except that it’s not shite and it doesn’t have an annoying twat in the lead.” Haha, thank christ for that! That movie was pretty shit! This one though….I am intrigued. I also love me some time travel. I get very irritated whenever anyone claims that time travel/alternate universe/multiple worlds/etc. is “played out”. As if that could ever happen…it can be done poorly, sure, but there is always room for more playing around with time…..

    Ummmmm, and The Natural also ends with father/son game of catch. I friggin’ love that movie.

  2. xiphos0311 says :

    If not, you’re a cold-hearted bastard with no imagination.


  3. koutchboom says :

    I really like this movie, totally forgot about it. You know that JC guy is a hell of an actor. I’d probably put this/Jesus Film/Outlander/Monty Crisco all in my top 50 of the decade. Probably more then any other actor. Still don’t understand why he isn’t getting A-Level releases? I wonder if its the whole religious thing, because come on that Ashly Judd movie wasn’t THAT BAD.

  4. koutchboom says :

    OK off to finish Victory then bed time.

  5. koutchboom says :

    Ugh I guess that means Where The WILD THINGS! are not but just a crazy kid with 0 discipline in his life are, made your top 20.

    • Droid says :

      The last 3 flicks I’ve seen are WTWTA, Surrogates and Jennifers Body. One made it into my top 20.. Take a guess which one.

      HINT: It’s not the one that sucks donkey rectum.

  6. Tom_Bando says :

    Hey I like this movie. I’d forgotten about it too. There’s alot to like and ala the Natural and Field of Dreams, it seems to get the ‘personal redemption angle’ correct.

    Plus I like Dennis Quaid as well.

    The Rookie works in a similar vein too, at the end the little scene w/ Bryan Cox as his father? where he admits he ‘let these things get away’ etc in the past? Good stuff.

  7. just pillow talk says :

    I dig this movie.

    No way would this make my top whatever, but it’s a good movie. I like Dennis and JC in this.

  8. Bartleby says :

    What everyone else said, but there’s one thing here that I often forget: it’s a great film to watch with your pop(unless pop is one of those emotional hard-asses that would try to slap the gay out of you for watching it with him).

    The plotting gets absolutely ridiculous in the last third, and I’ve always wondered why there needed to be the serial killer plot device. In some ways it was interesting–Dad lives but then someone has killed mom and others–but the execution just got more ridiculous as it went on.

    Still, that scene where he comes home and takes his kid out on the bike, and now Caviezel has the memories of a father who didn’t die.

    Like. A. Bitch.

    It’s funny, here in Baltimore, among friends and family, I’m the curmudgeonly critic who is too hard on movies. Here, with you crazy lot, I’m like the mass-market cow who likes everything.

  9. Bartleby says :

    Hoblit, by the way, is a director who should be given more work. I’m not sure if I’ve seen everything he’s done but look at his output:

    Primal Fear: bang-up thriller.

    Fallen: best riff on the dark renegade angels storyline (and Im guessing that will include Legion too)

    Frequency: everything Droid said.

    Hart’s War: not classic, or even classy, but as a friday night throwback to classic POW movies, I thought it worked well enough.

    Fracture: another good thriller with two good leads. Not as good as Primal Fear, but I was entertained.

    • Droid says :

      Jonah, I also like Hoblit, but…

      Primal Fear: Terrific.

      Fallen: Terrific until the cunt of a “twist” at the end which made me hate hate hate the flick. Also the scene where the spirit was chasing by travelling through the bodies was poorly directed.

      Frequency: What I said.

      Harts War: Meh.

      Fracture: Too self consciously clever and also far too fucking slick looking. Reminded me of a James Foley flick.

      There’s one that I haven’t seen with Diane Lane and a serial killer. Some bollocks about the internet and the amount of website visits effecting the way the victim is killed.

      • Bartleby says :

        oh goodness…Hoblit directed that Untraceable movie?

        Yea, he needs a new schtick. Look up there and Hart’s War is the only one without a killer.

        You know, that scene you mentioned with the spirts moving in Fallen, and you call it poorly directed? When I saw the film the first time, I remember thinking the same thing. But as I’ve rewatched it over the years, I think there’s something to the way it is done. It just feels supremely odd. The way it cuts back and forth, it doesn’t seem like Azazel is actually stalking Hobbs as much as he’s playing some demonic game of hot potato.

        But in the end, I think I like that effect more–it ups the trickster nature of the demon, and let’s face it, the very idea of him running through bodies like a fat girl runs through potato chips–i.e. full tilt–is so absurd that it’s probably better they filmed it absurdly. Besides, that last part where random street people are walking up and mumbling stuff like ‘Fear my wrath’ was pretty cool. But hey, look where Hobbs lives. I don’t know how he was able to assume they were possessed just because of that.

      • Droid says :

        I haven’t seen it since the cinema, but I remember that scene because I though that it could be such an awesome visual, but i felt like it failed.

      • Bartleby says :

        watch it again Droid. I was surprised how much I felt it still held up. I also have a better grasp of cinema in general than I had then (think that was my first year out of high school)and I thought, “hey, this is better than I remembered it.”

  10. Bartleby says :

    no justification for the cat ending. None at all. I’ve trained my mind to believe the movie ends with Denzel dying in the snow with the voiceover saying “Damn, wait…I thought this was the time I almost died? Awww….hell no!” Fade to black.

    • Droid says :

      Definitely. Denzel dying yet defeating the spirit would’ve been aqn epic, bleak ending. I really fucking hated that prick of a cat.

      • Bartleby says :

        thing is though, the cat ending is bleaker (and dumber). Hobbs dies for nothing really. At least with the other Hobbs wins. Someone here or over at AICN suggested another ending I liked: Demon goes into cat, is gloating on soundtrack. Then we see Sutherland’s boot come down on it’s back. Cut to Sutherland, bleeding in snow, wiping cat guts off a boot.

  11. Bartleby says :

    also, and I know this is the gazillionest time this has been asked, but whats the program you are using Droid to write articles? I have a good handle on the wordpress one, but I like the look it gives. What is it?

    • Droid says :

      Its microsoft livewriter. Frankie turned me on to it. It’s really easy and it incorporates into wordpress so you can automatically edit and post from the software.


  12. Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

    Don’t listen to any of these punk asses, Droid. Frequency is a great movie and I’m going to classify it as sci-fi so it can make my top ten sci-fi of the decade list.

    • Droid says :

      Damn straight, Donor. Been reading your best of’s over at AIBN. Tis good work. Especially good to see that Family Man made your “Fuck you. I like it” list too.

  13. Jarv says :

    Family Man is fucking dreadful.

    You’re all perverts.

  14. Jarv says :

    You fucking should do, seeing as I’m the one with style and taste, whereas you are a colonial ignoramus.

  15. ThereWolf says :

    I’ve always intended to watch ‘Frequency’ at some point but somehow kept bypassing the smegger. I really should, considering it stars Our Lord and Saviour Jim Caviezel.

    Yeh, you’ve convinced me, Droid. I’ll have to get a hold of this…

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