SPOILER WARNING. Frequency is basically a nifty Twilight Zone episode, stretched out over an hour and a half. The set-up is classic 'Zone: unusual solar activity creates time distortion which allows son to contact his dead father via an old CB radio, with all the usual time warp consequences.
Don't you hate people who spoil endings? Well, consider this a spoiler warning, because this movie has a terrible ending. Shocking. Sentimental. False. There's a dreadful twist, followed by a baseball game, happy families, a montage sequence. Hell, there's even a soft rock atrocity which sounds like Elton John. In all, it takes no more than three or four minutes, but it's enough to knock at least one star off the final tally. Which is a real shame, because so much of what preceded this ending is really inventive and oddly emotional.
Director Hoblit (the excellent Primal Fear, the woeful Fallen) chooses to spin out the slight tale-with-a-twist in two ways: plenty of visual trickery - some of it stunning, some indulgent - and the grafting on of a serial killer plot-line which seems to have wandered in from another movie. This sub-plot occupies Frequency's final reel (leading to that terrible ending) and while it is above average, it is also largely conventional.
The best parts of Frequency come earlier - the radio dialogues between a haunted Caviezel, as the mournful son, and easy-going Quaid, the heroic, and long dead, firefighter dad, played against the stark contrast of 1969 Queens and present day New York. Okay, so there's loads of Americana and macho posturing - this is, after all, a fireman talking to a cop mostly about baseball - but it is actually rather refreshing to see male relations of any sort, never mind father-son relations, so honestly and affectingly rendered - Quaid, rarely better, and Caviezel, in need of a good hug, are both great. Plus, make no mistake, there's some cool, freaky time-warp stuff thrown in just in case the lads start thinking they're watching a lost episode of The Wonder Years instead of The Twilight Zone - of course, anyone who wanders in for the last five minutes or so will swear on their life that the movie finishes with Daniel Stern's dreaded Wonder Years voiceover, "And from that moment on..."
For the most part, this is a pretty original concoction, spiked with mind bending pseudo-science as well as tear-jerking emotional gravitas. Just don't mention the ending.