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Frequency (***)
Directed by Gregory Hoblit
Written by Tobias Emmerich
Principal Cast
Dennis Quaid -- Frank Sullivan
James Caviezel -- John Sullivan
Elizabeth Mitchell -- Julia Sullivan
André Braugher -- Satch DeLeon
Noah Emmerich -- Gordo Hersch
Shawn Doyle -- Jack Shepard
Jordan Bridges -- Graham Gibson
Melissa Errico -- Samantha Thomas
Daniel Henson -- Johnny Sullivan (6 years)
Frank McAnulty -- Desk Sergeant
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

It is almost impossible to write a time travel story that does not contradict itself. Probably the closest is Larry Niven's "All the Myriad Ways." In a Hollywood that usually doesn't even try to make sense, Frequency tries, and deserves points for making the effort. But that is not why you should see the film. The ideas, which are clever by Hollywood standards, are old hat to science fiction fans, and for all its tricks and good intentions, it never examines more than one level of the consequences of its assumptions.

But this is a story of a father and son reunion, thanks to a ham radio set that can bounce signals off the Northern Lights and, thus, through time. It keeps to its emotional centre. There is one point in the middle where something happens that would happen in a routine serial killer melodrama, and I was ready to write the movie off, but it quickly recovers by returning to the theme of family and the device of time travel. Films must have unity of theme, or they lose their audience. One reason Die Hard (****) is great is because it never budges from that skyscraper. As soon as Die Hard II (**) moves outside the airport, all the interest drains out of it, and the audience members start talking to one another about what they are going to do when the movie is over. Aristotle did not insist on unity of time and place, but he did insist on unity of theme, and he was right. Frequency is fun because it keeps adding new ideas about time travel and new variations on the importance of family, instead of just using one gimmick to kick off a formula plot.

You'll like it.

One thing that I worry about a lot is the dumbing of America. If we don't stop it, the lack of intelligent films will be the most minor of the consequences. It is a crime to force our children to spend twelve years in the stultifying boredom that our classrooms have become. And when these bored, ignorant, aimless people take over the world, we will deserve every moment of the terrible retribution that will descend on us.

It wasn't Frequency that sparked this thought, but the reviews of Frequency, which are pretending to be confused by the relatively elementary time travel ideas on the screen. Even an SF-savvy reviewer like Roger Ebert must pretend not to understand the film, because if he comes across as too smart, he will lose his readers.

In the country of the stupid, the man with half a brain is king -- in a pig's eye!

Copyright © 2000 by Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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