Friday, October 2, 2020

Dear Frankie (2004) - Thoughts & Spoilers


All right, time to dwell on the nuances of a 16-year-old movie, here.

So I've written about Dear Frankie a few times previously on this blog. It earned a spot on my Top 14 Film Scores and Top 14 Gerard Butler Movies lists. In 2010 I added it to my list of favorite films from the previous decade, and summarized it as follows:

Lizzie, a single mom, is on the run from her ex-husband. She lives with her mother and her young son Frankie, who is deaf. She's never told her son what a jerk his father is, and because her son is curious about his dad, Lizzie writes the boy letters, pretending to be the father. She has done so for years. She also does this because it's the only way she can truly "hear" her son. But one day, it looks like she may be busted when circumstances force her to produce The Real Thing, an in-the-flesh dad. So she goes looking for a man to pose as Frankie's father. What happens next is bittersweet and charming.

Now, here's the part where I say: If you haven't watched the movie, go watch it. You can get it on Youtube Movies in the U.S. It's also available to rent or buy on Amazon.

So what I want to talk about today is The Ending.










My mom and I recently watched this movie. I've seen it multiple times before, she's seen it once before but didn't seem to remember.

Anyway, we were talking about How Frankie Knew.

My mom thinks Frankie figured it out when he read his dad's obituary and the words "a long illness." She thinks that clued Frankie in to the fact that the man Frankie hung out with that weekend (The Stranger), who seemed perfectly healthy, must be a separate entity from the dad whose obituary he is reading.

But I don't agree with that at all. I think Frankie figured it out a lot sooner. In fact, I think he knew all along that The Stranger wasn't his biological father.

One major clue is Frankie's reaction to seeing The Stranger when they meet for the first time. Lizzie (the mom) tells Frankie that he has a visitor and that it's his dad. But Frankie, who knew his dad's boat would be in port and was hoping his dad would visit, just stares at The Stranger kind of untrustingly. It is only after The Stranger says that he's read Frankie's letters that Frankie goes to him and gives him a hug.

Another clue that Frankie had already figured it out is the fact that Frankie doesn't seem particularly devastated when Lizzie tells him that his dad is very sick. Frankie draws his dad a picture, but it really doesn't seem like his best work or that he's giving it his all. And the note he writes to accompany the picture is uncharacteristically short in comparison to Frankie's other letters.

But how, and when, did Frankie figure out the truth?

I think the movie actually answers the question in a subtle, blink-and-you-miss 'em, semi-ambiguous collection of moments....

Moment #1: We see Frankie looking at a torn photograph of his mother. Evidently the father's face has been removed from the photo, torn off.

Moment #2: Soon after, we see Lizzie looking at pictures in the suitcase in her wardrobe (closet). One of the pictures she looks at is the torn-off portion of the picture Frankie has. We see the face of Frankie's bio dad.

Moment #3: Frankie and his friend Catriona are having a discussion, and Catriona goes on for several lines (heightening the significance) about how if there's a secret Frankie's mom is keeping, the answers are probably in her wardrobe. 

Moment #4: The kids sneak into Lizzie's bedroom and manage to unlock the wardrobe. We see one of the kids touching the suitcase but we don't see them pursuing it further. Then we see Catriona admiring Lizzie's wedding dress. Lizzie enters the room, gets upset, asks the kids what else they touched, and gets no verbal answers. However, Frankie seems a bit upset afterward. Is he upset because he got caught snooping (guilt)? Is he upset because he's sorry he hurt his mother's feelings? Or is there more to it...?

THEORY: I think the kids DID get into the suitcase -- the audience just doesn't get to see it. The fact that the kids got all the way in the wardrobe and even touched the suitcase makes me think there has to be something more to it. Otherwise, why include this entire scene at all?

My mom thinks this scene was included to add suspense to the movie, ie, "Oh no, what if Frankie finds out?" 

But, I think, at the very least, one of the kids DID open the suitcase, and Frankie -- even if he saw nothing else -- got to see the photo of his father. And because the photo was ripped, and therefore was clearly the other half of the photo Frankie already possessed, Frankie would have realized the guy in the photo must be his bio father.

I'm picturing Frankie looking in one box in the closet, and Catriona looking in the suitcase. The photo being the only interesting (to her) thing she finds, it's the only thing she shows to Frankie.

But it's enough. And now he knows what his bio father looks like.

Which explains why, when he meets The Stranger, he looks unsure/confused. "Huh? You're not my dad."

But when he learns that The Stranger has, in fact, read his letters, Frankie becomes more open. Now, I don't know if Frankie then thinks The Stranger has been writing the letters all along (ie Lizzie "hired" this guy ages ago), or if he has ALSO figured out his mom was writing the letters all along. But I kind of think its the former... mainly because of what Frankie writes in his final letter in the film. In this letter, he's still writing to "Da'" (no "hey mom!" or anything) and he includes the photo he took of himself and The Stranger. He's clearly writing to That Guy, rather than writing to his mom. 

That said, it's possible that Frankie knows he's really writing to his mom, but has chosen to lean into the fantasy, kind of the way some kids continue to leave their teeth for the Tooth Fairy long after they know it's just their parents leaving the money... it may be a farce, but playing into the myth still gets you a financial reward and a bit of excitement. For Frankie, even if he has realized he's been writing to his mom this whole time and she's the one who's been writing back, The Stranger was a real, flesh-and-blood guy who had evidently ALSO read the letters. The Stranger was kind and fun and sweet and... why shouldn't Frankie want to continue to write letters to "him"?

So maybe Frankie is leaning into the fantasy with the hopes of getting to spend time with The Stranger again someday.

Does he know his mom wrote the letters? It's possible, but I think either he doesn't know, or he has chosen not to care.

Does he know The Stranger isn't his real dad? YES. This is made absolutely clear in his final letter.

I tried to search the internet to see what other theories people had. One blogger surmised that Frankie figured out the truth by reading Marie's lips at the dance hall when Marie accidentally makes a comment that implies she's known The Stranger a long time. (Well, she has... but Frankie's not supposed to know that). But I don't think this theory can stand. I think if Frankie had suddenly realized, there in the dance hall, that'd been "tricked," it would have elicited a reaction from him. A big reaction, a small one, anything. But there isn't a reaction. I honestly don't think he was looking at Marie's lips at all.

If you've seen the film and have your own theories, leave a comment!

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Sims "100 Baby Challenge": Epilogue!

I posted this seconds after I posted Part 12. If you haven't read Part 12 yet, READ THAT FIRST!

* * *

(Missed a part? Here are the links! Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9, & Part 10, Part 11, Part 12)

 WE DID IT! We had 100 babies in The Sims 4!

We only lost 4 matriarchs to old age, and one potential baby daddy to a deadly kitchen fire.

Not bad.

Here's a rundown of our 100 kids, grouped by Common Mom.

(Mom - Adelaide) 1. Emmett 2. August 3. Emma 4. Norman 5. Alysia 
6. Clarissa 7. Clementine 8. Anabelle 9. Bradford 10. Candice 
11.  Leonardo 12. Serena 13. Cierra 

14. Irving 15. Robyn 
16. Harley 17. Gloria 18. Blaze 19. Pearl 20. Allan 
21. Heaven 22. Thorson 23. Bobby 24. Johnny 25. Hunter 
26. Corbin 27. Amber 28. Frankie 

29. Eleanor 30. 
Barbara 31. Miles 32. Rocco 33. Shelly 34. Emilio 35. 
Geoffrey 36. Nicolette 37. Skylar 38. Jane 39. Xavier 40. Bonnie 
41. Imani 42. Owen 43. Quinn 

44. Raven 45. Waldemar 
46. Knox 47. Audra 48. Roger 49. Cannon 50. Jackie 
51. Amanda 52. Toby 53. Sonny 54. Diamond 55. Clara 
56. Esmeralda 57. Rosemary 58. Nylah 59. Catalina 

60. Sydney 
61. Frances .62. Arielle 63. Marielle 64. Zoey 65. Easton
66. Maeve 67. Aldo 68. Rainn 69. Zion 70. Martin
71. Jake 72. Elvis 73. Aubree 74. Lauryn 75. Naomi 
76. Quentin 77. Cedric 

78. Talia 79. Moses 80. Nico
81. Marcelo 82. Kason 83. Nolan 84. Diana 85. Gregory

86. Marty IV 87. Calvin 88. Isaac 89. Maverick 90. Cody
91. Brodie 92. September 93. Jacques 94. Amelie 95. Cecile
96. Stephanie 97. Brittany 98. Michael 99. Boston 100. Austin

So... uh... now what?

It can't just end, can it?

Not as long as I'm in charge! (And I so totally am.)


Well, Diana... you did it. You finished what your great-great-great-great (??) grandmother started many weeks years ago. All the matriarchs contributed to the challenge, but you took it home. Congratulations!

So, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?

First order of business: rescue toddler Boston, who's a bit stuck...

Watch as your children grow up...





And, of course, Austin...

Yes, go ahead and adopt a poodle!

You deserve it!

YES, rekindle your romance with your high school sweetheart (and father of your first baby), Marty McFly III.

YES, you can accept his proposal now!

Rock that wedding dress!

Say "I do!" front of a mere 10% of your immediate relatives...

Have some cake!

Look on with pride as your two youngest kids become teens...

Give them encouragement when they return from school looking like this...

Diana, you and Marty III can do whatever you want now!

You can make new friends...

Throw parties...

Have another baby...

Look... old habits die hard, okay!?

Diana's first baby (Marty (IV) was with Marty III, so she figures her last baby ought to be with him as well. 

Welcome Diana II!

Marty III is going to be a hands-on dad this time around...

Watch with pride as your twin boys become young adults...

Boston is a computer whiz, a quick learner, an art lover, cheerful, and lazy.

Austin is a renaissance sim and a quick learner. He is a bookworm, creative, and also cheerful. (I can handpick their traits now. No more kleptos in this family!)

Before the twins strike out on their own, we get a family portrait...

We gotta have one with the pets!

Diana spends lots of time with Diana II...

Except when she's advancing her new culinary career...

That's when Fernadine the poodle watches over the little one...

Diana plans to teach her youngest daughter everything she knows...

Marty III might have a thing or two to teach her, too...

Life is good for the Embody family...

And, as far as I know, they'll all live happily ever after.

* * * 


We had 7 matriarchs: 

Adelaide (12 pregnancies, 13 babies)

Cierra (13 pregnancies, 15 babies)

Amber (13 pregnancies, 15 babies)

Quinn (13 pregnancies, 16 babies)

Catalina (15 pregnancies, 18 babies)

Naomi (8 pregnancies, 8 babies)

Diana (12 pregnancies, 15 babies during the challenge; another baby afterward)

Out of the 100 babies, 26 of the kids were "multiples"...

We had 10 sets of twins...

Serena/Cierra (g/g)
Heaven/Thorson (g/b)
Bobby/Johnny (b/b)
Waldemar/Knox (b/b)
Clara/Esmeralda (g/g)
Nylah/Catalina (g/g)
Arielle/Marielle (g/g)
Rainn/Zion (g/b)
Naomi/Quentin (g/b)
Boston/Austin (b/b)

Fun fact: 3 of our matriarchs came from these twin sets!

and we had 2 sets of triplets...

Emilio/Geoffrey/Nicolette (b/b/g)
Jacques/Amelie/Cecile (b/g/g)

No kids were taken away, and none died.

Four matriarchs passed away of old age before their youngest child became an adult.

Naomi and Cierra are still wandering around the neighborhood somewhere.

Pixel is on her 22nd life... at least.

(P.S.: Pixel had four offspring: Peanut, Lemonade, Shiloh, and Turtle. They all live with other Embody kids. Two of them have her bobbed tail.)

Molly Attempts The "100 Baby Challenge" In The Sims: Part 12

I think I can, I think I can...

 We are SO CLOSE to the end of the Sims 4 100 Baby Challenge! We have 92 children...

Emmett, August, Emma, Norman, Alysia, Clarissa, Clementine, Anabelle, Bradford, Candice, Leonardo, Serena & Cierra, Irving, Robyn, Harley, Gloria, Blaze, Pearl, Allan, Heaven & Thorson, Bobby & Johnny, Hunter, Corbin, Amber, Frankie, Eleanor, Barbara, Miles, Rocco, Shelly, Emilio & Geoffrey & Nicolette, Skylar, Jane, Xavier, Bonnie, Imani, Owen, Quinn, Raven, Waldemar & Knox, Audra, Roger, Cannon, Jackie, Amanda, Toby, Sonny, Diamond, Clara & Esmeralda, Rosemary, Nylah, & Catalina, Sydney, Frances, Arielle & Marielle, Zoey, Easton, Maeve, Aldo, Rainn & Zion, Martin, Jake, Elvis, Aubree, Lauryn, Naomi & Quentin, Cedric, Talia, Moses, Nico, Marcelo, Kason, Nolan, Diana, Gregory, Marty IV, Calvin, Isaac, Maverick, Cody, Brodie, September, and...???

In our last episode, matriarch Diana hooked up with Frenchman Emanuel Leuname, and during this pregnancy she was looking a bit wider than usual, I thought...

Turns out, there was a reason for that...

Meet the second-ever set of Embody triplets... Jacques, Amelie, and Cecile!

(I was not super excited about this... raising twins or triplets in this game is nuts, especially when you aren't allowed to use cheats. But... at least we were suddenly at 95 kids! Only 5 to go!)

While Diana is busy with triple baby care, Brodie gets ready to age up...

Love that hair, Brodie!

Diana manages to get away for her traditional most-baby makeover. This time, she's going blue...

September plays Chopsticks... or something...

The triplets become toddlers...

Cecile (left) and Amelie (right) bond...

The three chill together...

A few days years later, Amelie and Cecile have a chat on the couch while Pixel looks on...

Brodie becomes a young adult!

Brodie is business-savvy and wants to be fabulously wealthy. He is romantic, active, and a klepto.

September, Cecile, Jacques, and Amelie hang out in the hot tub...

Then September becomes a teen...

Diana and Colby James (the Kansas farm lad, who we met in our last episode) have gotten together...

 and soon it's time for baby #96...

It's a girl -- Stephanie!

Diana goes back to being a blonde just in time to seduce blue-haired Phil Starling...

Stephanie becomes a toddler...

Baby #97 comes along...

It's another girl, Brittany!

And on it goes... another new look for our matriarch...

A houseful of new neighbors has moved in down the street. (Isn't it funny how this keeps happening? And how they're always all young, eligible, and flirty? Amazing.) 

Diana meets the anachronistic yet alluring Denny Harrowford...

Who later shows up at her house wearing that one outfit Talia designed that so many male Sims have donned...

Talia, wherever you are, please design a new trend!

Back at home, September becomes a young adult...

September wants to be a mixologist. She is a goofball, non-committal, and a lover of art.

Brittany is a stylish blonde toddler...

It's time for the triplets to become teens!

First Jacques...

It kind of looks like Diana is about to hit him with a hammer, but I think that's just a celebratory noisemaker.

Then Amelie...

And finally Cecile!

Denny and Diana's child, Baby #98, is on its way! 

It's a boy, Michael!

Stephanie becomes a happy kid...

And big sister September comes for a visit...

Cecile hangs out with Michael and Brittany...

Brittany enters childhood looking like Karen Brewer...

The five school-aged Embody kids come home from school looking like this pretty much every day...

I feel ya, kids.

Jacques is the first of the triplets to strike out on his own!

Jacques is domestic, wants a big happy family, loves music, and is a mean geek.

Cecile and Amelie still need to get their grades up.

Diana only needs to have two more babies, and the challenge will be complete!

It won't be easy, though.

Diana first goes after this guy, Ozzie Franklin. They get super flirty with each other in Diana's bedroom, but before anything can happen, Ozzie abruptly leaves.

Diana then goes over to Ozzie's house, but since it's after midnight, she can't go inside -- she can only chat with him outdoors. 

And to her surprise, Ozzie is cold to her! She tries making jokes, and he doesn't laugh. She tries to flirt, and he rebuffs her. Diana can't believe it!

Around 3am, Diana gets hungry, and runs to a neighboring lot to cook something on a grill.

Meanwhile, back at Ozzie's house, the alarm goes off -- there's a fire!

Try as she might, Diana can't tell where the fire is, nor can she help anyone inside. Some of the residents are outside, now, freaking out.

And then Diana sees the Grim Reaper wafting into the house. 

Morning comes, and at last Diana is permitted to enter the abode.

And that's when she sees this...

Ozzie Franklin, you were supposed to father Baby #99!

And now you're dead. 


Fortunately for Diana, she has no compulsion to mourn Ozzie whatsoever, and quickly moves on to his roommate, Grady Sherell...

Cecile then becomes a young adult...

Cecile, like Jacques, is also domestic, wants a successful lineage, and loves music. But instead of being a mean geek, she is a gloomy bro.

Amelie wants to be a best-selling author. She is a muser, good, active, and a loner.

Michael becomes a kid...

And then it is time for baby #99...

The second-to-last baby!

Who will it be??

It's a boy, Boston!

Oh... wait a minute....


IT'S BABY #100!


Which means, just like that, our 100 Baby Challenge is complete...

But I just don't feel right about ending things there. I want to see Austin and Boston grow up! I want Diana to be able to get married to her true love! And adopt some animals! And maybe start a career! Or at least one or two of those things...

So, stay tuned for the 100 Baby Epilogue... coming up... NOW.