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Movie Review

It’s not unusual for fathers and sons to have trouble communicating. But no gap has ever been wider than the one bridged in Frequency when a meteorological anomaly reunites a troubled New York cop with his deceased dad by letting them converse via ham radio 30 years apart. This intelligently written thrill ride (part Back to the Future, part Field of Dreams) tugs heartstrings as it races to a wild climax.

In 1969, fireman Frank Sullivan died in the line of duty, leaving behind his loving wife and 6-year-old son, John. But the past is about to change. In 1999, John uses the mysterious radio and clarity of hindsight to save his dad’s life—a noble act that creates a devastating wrinkle in the fabric of time-that father and son must iron out together.

Frequency employs intense violence as the Sullivan boys try to thwart a serial killer. Persistent alcohol use and about 30 profanities also get in the way of this film’s many positive messages.

The pluses? Seemingly insignificant actions alter lives forever (a reminder that behavior has consequences). Frank and John feel responsible for the ripple effect they have created and risk their lives to help others. Scenes model affection in marriage and issue a wake-up call to workaholics. With a soft spot for second chances, the film recognizes the value of healthy two-parent homes and makes a powerful anti-smoking statement.

Male bonding over electronic gizmos and baseball minutiae (specifically the ’69 World Series) won’t attract hordes of teens to the local cinema. Rather, they’ll want to see Frequency for its mind-bending premise and sheer velocity. Unfortunately, escapist fun and strong pro-family signals get interrupted by annoying bursts of static.

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