For a sizable population of men yearning to get on the same wavelength as their aging dads, Frequency may be the first time-travel fantasy to move grown fellows with 401(k) accounts to tears. Whether everyone else is as choked up by this unabashedly emotional high-concept thriller will depend on one’s susceptibility to the magic of the 1969 Mets, the retro charms of working-class Queens, N.Y., and the post-Sixth Sense originality of its out-there scenario.
But if one gives in to the pleasures of convolution, director Gregory Hoblit’s clever drama (from Toby Emmerich’s script) works on its own whopper terms. Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line) looks acutely in need of a hug as John Sullivan, a mournful cop watching old episodes of Hoblit’s Hill Street Blues in the childhood house he has inherited, who discovers, one electrically charged night in 1999, that he can communicate with his dead firefighter father, Frank (Dennis Quaid), on the old man’s ham radio. More fantastically, Frank is living in 1969 (he hasn’t yet fallen in the line of duty), the amazin’ Mets are playing their first game of the World Series, and John has a chance to restring fate’s chain links by preventing his father’s fiery demise.
Stephen Hawking might not sign off on all the space-time-continuum loopholes in Emmerich’s story, especially when both Sullivans collaborate to catch a serial killer, but Frequency hews to a more shimmering logic: Telling Dad you love him is a way to let him live forever as the robust guy who taught you how to ride a bike, not the stiff-jointed guy who suggests a backup career when you tell him you want to make movies about time travel. B