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"DEAR FRANKIE"
(2005) (Emily Mortimer, Jack McElhone) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate None Heavy Minor None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Moderate Heavy Moderate None


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: After years of lying to her son about his father's whereabouts to protect him from the truth about the man, a single mother must figure out what to do when the father's fictional ship turns out to be real and is scheduled to dock in their city in a few days.
PLOT:
Frankie Morrison (JACK McELHONE) is a 9-year-old deaf boy who's partially living in a fantasy world that's not of his doing. It seems that his mother Lizzie (EMILY MORTIMER) -- after fleeing her abusive husband, Davey (CAL MACANINCH) with a young Frankie and his grandmother Nell (MARY RIGGANS) -- has concocted an elaborate lie to explain the father's absence.

Ever since he was little, Lizzie has told him that Davey is a seaman who's constantly traveling around the world. Frankie is fixated on him and all things maritime related, checking out every book he can find and constantly writing to his father. The responses, however, are penned by Lizzie who intercepts the outgoing mail and writes back to the boy as his father. Nell doesn't approve of this deceit, but Lizzie believes she's protecting her son from a harmful and disappointing truth.

The family is always on the move, hoping to stay one step ahead of Davey, and have now arrived in Glasgow. Frankie is happy since they're by the sea, but Lizzie is horrified when she learns -- and realizes that Frankie knows -- that the ship she thought she had made up is actually arriving in port in a few days. Knowing they can't flee, Lizzie eventually decides to hire someone to pose as the boy's father for the few days he'd be in port.

When she can't find anyone, her boss, cafe owner Marie (SHARON SMALL), steps in delivers an unnamed stranger (GERARD BUTLER) who reluctantly agrees to the ruse in exchange for pay. Frankie's malcontent classmate Ricky Monroe (SEAN BROWN) bets him that his father won't show, but is shocked when "he" does. With the agreement being only to spend a day together, Frankie and his "dad" get in as much father/son time as they can, with Frankie showing a never before seen happiness and the stranger finding his dormant paternal feelings coming to a head.

As Lizzie hopes that the ruse will conclude without any revelations about the truth, her plan is put in jeopardy when her sister-in-law, Janet (ANNE MARIE TIMONEY), tracks her down and informs her that Davey is on his death bed and wants to make amends with his long-estranged family. From that point on, Lizzie must decide what to do and whether to continue her protective ruse with her son.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
It doesn't seem too likely that many kids will be lining up to see this, despite a major character being a 9-year-old boy.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • EMILY MORTIMER plays a single mom who's set up an elaborate lie about her son's long-absent father. She does so to protect Frankie from the truth of the situation, but finds her hole of deceit getting deeper when she has to hire a stranger to act like Frankie's father to keep the lie going. Emotionally shut down, she starts to open a bit during her time with the stranger. She uses a bit of profanity and drinks a little.
  • JACK McELHONE plays her deaf but smart son who's been misled into believing his father is always out at sea. When he gets word that his father's ship is arriving in port, he eagerly awaits his appearance. He then ends up bonding with the stranger who's been hired to play his father.
  • MARY RIGGANS plays his grandmother who thinks it's wrong that Lizzie keeps up the lie and only makes it worse with more. She doesn't approve of hiring the stranger to pose as Frankie's father, and smokes a number of times.
  • GERARD BUTLER plays the reserved stranger who reluctantly agrees to pose as Frankie's long-absent father, but ends up falling for the boy when his paternal instincts are tapped. He smokes once and drinks a bit.
  • SHARON SMALL plays the owner of a small cafe who befriends Lizzie and then helps her with her predicament. She smokes once and drinks some.
  • SEAN BROWN plays Frankie's classmate who's a bit of a jerk, going so far as to bet Frankie that his dad won't show up for their football (soccer) game.
  • CAL MACANINCH plays Lizzie's estranged and formerly abusive husband who's now on his death bed, wanting to make amends with his family. He briefly uses strong profanity while mad at her.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 "f" word, with only a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases also being uttered. Some non-explicit, sexually related dialogue is briefly present, while a boy has another boy stick his finger between his hands, making a related sexual reference about that, and an adult couple is briefly seen making out (from a distance).

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including many who lie to a boy about the truth regarding his absent father. That brings up various scenes dealing with tense family material, including talk of a father previously abusing (mentally and/or physically) his family, as well as that man then being on his death bed and wanting to make amends with his family. A later scene shows hospital staff frantically working on him.

    Various characters smoke and/or drink, a few to the point of appearing a little tipsy, while thematic elements include all of the parental/family issues as well as a boy being deaf. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People drink in a pub where Lizzie has a beer.
  • Miscellaneous people have wine or champagne.
  • Marie, Lizzie and her mom have wine.
  • Lizzie pours some liquor for her and her mom, saying she just needed a drink (and both drink it).
  • Lizzie, the Stranger, Marie and her date/boyfriend have beer. Later, Marie and her date/boyfriend appear a bit tipsy.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Ricky is a bit of a class jerk, writing "Def boy" on the desk (about Frankie) and betting Frankie that Frankie's father won't ever show up.
  • While some may view Lizzie as protecting Frankie from the truth about his abusive father, others will see her complex lies (including intercepting his mail and then writing back fictitious letters from his "father") as having a bad attitude.
  • Frankie's classmate, with his permission and involvement, picks the lock on Lizzie's locked closet (to snoop around and see what's inside).
  • Everyone, in one way or another, lies to Frankie about the Stranger being his father.
  • Lizzie tells the Stranger that Frankie wasn't born deaf, but that the condition was "a present" from Davey (suggesting that he beat the boy).
  • Lizzie reluctantly goes to see Davey, who's in the hospital on his deathbed. After a brief conversation, she tells her estranged husband that he doesn't deserved Frankie's forgiveness. Davey then gets mad and repeatedly yells that he wants to see his son. When Lizzie says she won't let Davey see Frankie, he gets mad and repeatedly calls her a "bitch."
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Lizzie returns to the hospital to see doctors and nurses frantically working on Davey.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "One stupid f*cking mistake," "Fags" (cigarettes), "Gi-normous," "Maggot," "Cheeky little devil," "Why don't you just lay down and die?" "Where's the bloody fire?" "Where the hell have you been?" "I don't know who the hell you are," "You must think I'm completely mad," "Who the hell do you think you are?" and "You bitch."
  • Ricky has Frankie stick his finger down into Ricky's closed hands and then jokingly asks, "Is that how your girlfriend feels?"
  • Frankie's classmate, with his permission and involvement, picks the lock on Lizzie's locked closet (to snoop around and see what's inside).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • Due to some thick accents, some of the dialogue (including possible profanities) could not be understood. That said, we did hear the following: At least 1 "f" word, 4 hells, 3 uses of "Jesus," 2 each of "For God's sakes," "God" and "Jesus Christ" and 1 use each of "Christ," "God Almighty" and "Oh God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Due to some thick accents, some of the dialogue (including possible sexual references) could not be understood. That said, we did hear the following:
  • Ricky has Frankie stick his finger down into Ricky's closed hands and then jokingly asks, "Is that how your girlfriend feels?"
  • Frankie's classmate, Catriona, tells him that she's found all sorts of things in her mom's wardrobe, including condoms (and possibly something else sexually related, but her accent is thick and it's hard to understand what else she says).
  • Various men eye Lizzie (in a lecherous fashion) when she comes into a bar that's filled mostly with men. The bartender then makes some sort of comment that makes it seem like she (the bartender) believes that Lizzie is a hooker (since she's there by herself).
  • From a distance, we briefly see a couple passionately kissing outside a bar.
  • SMOKING
  • Nell smokes more than 5 times, while the Stranger, Marie and her date/boyfriend each smoke once.
  • Nell gestures for Frankie to buy her some smokes at the local store, but Marie won't sell him any (Lizzie later returns and buys them).
  • The Stranger pulls out a pack of cigarettes, but doesn't smoke any.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Lizzie nervously moves her family to a new location whenever she thinks Davey might be near.
  • Lizzie states that her husband is dead, but Nell says he isn't since she reads the obituaries every day and has yet to see his name.
  • Nina calls Janet (Davey's sister) and tells her to leave their family alone.
  • Frankie tells his mom that he thinks his father doesn't want to see him, with Lizzie telling him his father doesn't want to see her, but does want to see Frankie.
  • Lizzie states that Davey left when Frankie was just a few months old, but we later learn that she's the one who fled with her boy and mother.
  • Lizzie is worried about Frankie when she can't find him in the morning (Marie later finds and returns him back home).
  • Janet (Lizzie's sister-in-law) tells Lizzie that Davey is dying and wants to see her and Frankie before he dies.
  • Lizzie tells the Stranger that Frankie wasn't born deaf, but that the condition was "a present" from Davey (suggesting that he beat the boy).
  • Frankie asks the Stranger if he's coming back, with his "dad" saying he doesn't know.
  • Lizzie reluctantly goes to see Davey, who's in the hospital on his deathbed. After a brief conversation, she tells her estranged husband that he doesn't deserved Frankie's forgiveness. Davey then gets mad and repeatedly yells that he wants to see his son. When Lizzie says she won't let Davey see Frankie, he gets mad and repeatedly calls her a "bitch."
  • Lizzie explains her actions to Janet, saying that Davey nearly killed them in the past.
  • Lizzie tells Frankie that his dad is very sick, causing Frankie to be sad. She later reads him an obituary notice in the paper reporting of his father's death (we believe he thinks it's the Stranger).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Lying and having to continue doing so to cover the initial lie.
  • Being deaf.
  • While some may view Lizzie as protecting Frankie from the truth about his abusive father, others will see her complex lies (including intercepting his mail and then writing back fictitious letters from his "father") as having a bad attitude.
  • The fact that Lizzie nervously moves her family to a new location whenever she thinks Davey might be near.
  • Nell tells Lizzie that she (Lizzie) is the one who's dead (meaning emotionally).
  • Frankie is a vegetarian.
  • The Stranger tells Lizzie that she has to trust somebody someday.
  • Lizzie tells the Stranger that Frankie wasn't born deaf, but that the condition was "a present" from Davey (suggesting that he beat the boy).
  • VIOLENCE
  • None.



  • Reviewed March 7, 2005 / Posted March 11, 2005

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