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Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Catch Me If You Can
"Here's a little move Walken tought me."


Leonardo DiCaprio
Christopher Walken
Tom Hanks

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Released In:




Reviewed By:

Adam Mast



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Just six months ago, Steven Spielberg dazzled us with one of the greatest science fiction films in recent memory, Minority Report (although I'd like to give a shout out to Solaris as well). For the holidays, the famed director has delivered us a wonderful Christmas present called Catch Me if You Can, a subtle, straight forward charmer, fueled by terrific performances and Spielberg's sharp storytelling skills.

Catch Me if You Can was inspired by the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., the youngest man ever put on the F.B.I.'s most wanted list. Abagnale was an expert forgeror and made away with over a million dollars all before the age of eighteen.

Following a fantastically creative opening credits sequence, The story picks up early on as we see what prompts Abagnale (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) to do what he does. After creatively impersonating a variety of characters and making off with quite a bundle of cash, the youngster is pursued by wise F.B.I. agent Carl Hanratty (played by Tom Hanks) who, despite botching Abagnale's capture on several occasions, begins to get a psychological grasp on the situation.

DiCaprio is fantastic here, and hopefully, people will see him for the talented force he is. This is probably his best work since What's Eating Gilbert Grape. He brings energy and a sense of lonliness to the role of Abagnale and his chemistry with an equally effective Hanks really lifts this movie to another level. Catch Me if You Can also features a stellar supporting cast, most notably the charismatic Christopher Walken, absolutely charming as Abagnale's father.

Catch Me if You Can is a smaller film for Spielberg who's last few pictures (Saving Private Ryan, A.I. and Minority Report) have been larger in scope. This doesn't make it any less impressive. Once again, this guy delivers the goods with a movie that is light, carefree, and an absolute beauty to look at. It's also punctuated by some classic tunes and a fantastic, jazzy score by John Williams.

While there may be moments in this picture where Abagnale's methods of theft might be a bit hard for audiences to swallow, keep in mind that this stuff all went down in the 60's (and this film feels as if it could have been made in the 60's). Obviously, we live in much more cynical times now.

What I like most about this light cat and mouse chase is the father/son dynamic that brews between Hanks and DiCaprio. These fine actors deftly play two individuals who fill the void in each other's sad hearts, and I really got sucked into that. Interestingly, Abagnale and Hanratty are both the protagonist and the antagonist, and Spielberg balances this story so effortlessly, that I watched most of Catch Me if You Can with a big grin on my face. I loved both these characters and wanted them both to win.

I'd also like to point out that Spielberg is often critisized for the way many of his films end (be it the so called happy ending of Minority Report or the drawn out sentimentality of A.I.). I don't know that I entirely agree with that, but I will say that Catch Me if You Can has a perfectly sublime ending. It is both realistic and satisfying for the audience.

With Catch Me if You Can and Minority Report, Spielberg has had a banner year that rivals 1993, when he released Jurassic Park and Schindler's List (my all time favorite film) within a twelve month period. I'm not implying that Catch Me if You Can is a better picture then Schindler's List, but walking out of this movie certainly left me all warm and fuzzy inside. You can't ask for anything more from a film during the holdiays.

:: zBoneman.com Reader Comments ::



I guess if ths film weren't based on a true story it would be to unbeleivable to enjoy, but the fact that it is, makes it one of my favorite films of all time - great understated performace by Hanks and a greatly overlooked performance by DiCapprio.



When Frank Abgnale Jr. turned 16 years old Dad who had always been quite well off got into trouble with the IRS and lost all the things his money had bought like the nice house and new cars. Now forced to move to an apartment his parents begin to have martial problems that lead them to a divorce. Frank who was already kind of a conman as he had impersonated a substitute teacher for a week at his new school cannot face his parents split up. So when he runs away from home he finds himself strapped for cash and a place to live. He has started passing bad checks but now they are not accepting them anymore and so when he sees an airline pilot and how respected they are he comes up with a bold scheme. Through a variety of scams he manages to get a pilot's uniform, ID card, and even a FAA license, which are all fake. So impersonating as a pilot he flies around the world from city to city-opening new accounts and passing even more worthless checks. But the checks are so small he decides to expand and begins to make his own airline paychecks in much larger amounts. But his check passing scams have not gone unnoticed and now an FBI agent Carl is hot on his trail so he abandons the air and settles down in Atlanta. But he cannot turn up the chance to impersonate another profession and makes himself and Doctor and works in a hospital for 11 months. In the meantime Carl is still-hunting him and again his scam is uncovered and he must run again. This time he runs to New Orleans and makes himself a Lawyer and even prosecutes in the State's Attorneys Office. But Carl will not give up chasing him so Frank runs to Europe where he begins to make his own checks again, in the end he will end up passing over four million dollars in counterfeits before he is caught.

This is the tale of probably the best conman and check frauder ever. The real Frank would serve 5 years in prison before being recruited by the FBI to help them catch other check kiters. The movie is absolutely stunning and amazing as the story is so rich and incredible you cannot help but be blown away with the scams Frank thought of pulling. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Frank and probably puts in his best acting performance since the days when he was unknown. He makes a dashing Frank and a great conman as he has the personality of Frank who used his charm and looks to pull off a lot of his crimes. Tom Hanks also puts in a stellar performance as Carl the FBI agent chasing him. Hanks just has the skills to pull of this dour and grumpy character to perfection as he chases endlessly after Frank. And while the acting is great it is the story that totally makes this movie worthwhile since most of it is true. Steven Spielberg weaves together a great masterpiece of action and adventure while at the same time making you laugh through much of the movie. This movie is a definite holiday treat and Christmas present as it is so enthralling and amazing you may want to see it a second time. And while the movie differs somewhat from the book Frank Abgnale has said the movie is probably closer to what happened than the book. Go see it.

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