Jul 252004

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a successful con artist who managed to pass himself off as several identities and the FBI agent hot on his trail.

Directed by
Steven Spielberg

Crime, Drama, Thriller

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Nathalie Baye, Amy Adams, James Brolin, Brian Howe, Frank John Hughes, Steve Eastin, Chris Ellis, John Finn, Jennifer Garner, Nancy Lenehan, Ellen Pompeo


“Catch Me If You Can” is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, the most successful conman in history. By the age of 19, Frank had already posed as a pilot for Pan Am, paraded around as a medical doctor, and fooled everyone by taking an on-the-side-job as a lawyer. (By the way, he faked a Harvard-graduate diploma to become one.) During this time he cashed fraudulent checks at various banks around the country, and eventually around various places in the world. His is an amazing story, and this film is based on it.

There’s no real plot to go into, as I have already given it to you. Other than telling you that the film opens when Frank is sixteen and runs away from home after his parents (Christopher Walken and Nathalie Baye) have a messy divorce, you pretty much have the setup for a light, fluffy, and altogether fun film.

Frank is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and the man hot on his trail, agent Carl Hanratty, is played by Tom Hanks. There isn’t really a Carl Hanratty in real life, but it adds to the story. Frank, on the run, actually starts to become friends with Hanratty, who realizes Frank is just an adolescent and does not realize the eventual outcomes of what he is doing. Hanratty sort of adopts Frank, even after he is caught and thrown in a French prison. He helps him get transferred to an American prison, and then even gets him a job in the FBI for spotting fraudulent checks.

The film is entirely watchable, and doesn’t try to become an epic. Steven Spielberg creates a real dazzler here; it is effortlessly watchable and even at two and a half hours long, it doesn’t become overbearing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and, unlike most critics, I thought Tom Hanks did a great job in his role.

I especially like how Spielberg captured the image of the ’60s so well here, and John Williams’ score fits the part of the film very well. And as for the cast, they are all matched perfectly to their characters. I especially liked Christopher Walken as Frank Abagnale, Sr., who steals every scene he is in. His performance was worthy of its Oscar nom.

If you just want to sit back and relax, “Catch Me If You Can” is the perfect film for you. There’s nothing all that special in the film, but the film kind of becomes special because it is so easy to watch. I recommend “Catch Me If You Can” to anyone who can enjoy a movie for what it is.

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