This is a shamelessly entertaining film with lots of heart and a tone that bounces all over the place. Gregory Hoblit’s underrated 2000 genre-bender Frequency was a modest hit with critics and audiences at the time of its release, and while it’s hardly a great movie, it’s so much fun to watch, and it stands up on repeated viewings. This movie is so many things: A father-son drama, a sci-fi time travel piece, a serial killer thriller, a domestic drama, an action potboiler – screenwriter and future studio chief Toby Emmerich devised a true “kitchen-sink” film with a heady, complicated narrative that’s happy to fold back on itself repeatedly. Dennis Quaid was perfectly cast as the father impossibly communicating with his grown son, played by Jim Caviezel, years later via an old ham radio and some interesting celestial disturbances courtesy of a very active Aurora Borealis. And as in most time-travel narratives, the more you do to disturb the space-time continuum, the more likely it’ll be that things will have changed all around you, thus setting the butterfly effect in motion. This is a restless piece of work, a film that has tons on its active mind, and I can’t think of too many other efforts that resemble it in intent and execution. It certainly feels light years away from the types of films that are currently getting the greenlight at the studio level.
Hoblit, a dependable director who cut his teeth on various TV shows before making the leap to features with the excellent Primal Fear, has had a solid career as a helmer of underrated mid-budgeted thrillers (Fallen, Hart’s War, and Fracture are some other credits), and with Frequency, he took a project that had spent years in development under various other filmmakers and turned it into a film with a great sense of visual style, and wasn’t afraid to embrace the inherent silliness of its idea, and directed with a steely conviction that turned the entire piece into a slice of earnest entertainment. It’s certainly contrived to within an inch of its life but it’s no less enjoyable, and it’s admirable the way Frequency keeps piling it on all the way to its cornily effective finale, which will leave a lump in your throat unless you’re a true cynic. A big reason for this is the fantastic chemistry between Quaid and Caviezel, who despite not really looking like they come from the same family, exhibited a natural warmth and rapport with each other that went along way to making the film work as well as it does. For some reason, Frequency feels like a strange companion piece to Field of Dreams, and while that film is infinitely superior overall, I can’t help but feel that they share some of the same honest-at-the-core traits that always keep me coming back for more.