Catch Me If You Can

"Very Good"

Catch Me If You Can Review


By 1967, Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo Dicaprio) had become the youngest con man to make the FBI's "Most Wanted List." He'd cashed millions of dollars in forged checks, posed as a co-pilot for a major airline, landed a job as a surgeon in Atlanta, and passed the bar exam in New Orleans. At the time, he was barely old enough to drive.

So goes Catch Me If You Can, Steven Spielberg's second film of the year after the darker, more imaginative Minority Report. The director's cat-and-mouse game draws from Abagnale's autobiography and begins with the criminal's capture at the hands of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). The film then slowly backtracks six years to explain both how and why these two men wound up at this point. Part of it has to do with Frank's father (Christopher Walken), a smooth-as-silk seller with tax troubles. But most of it has to do with Frank's need to test his wits against inferior playmates.

Catch Me can be giddy, as Spielberg and screenwriter Jeff Nathanson easily sweep us up in Frank's tapestry of lies. DiCaprio - fully developed in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York - actually immatures for the Abagnale role, and it works. The younger Frank appears, the better the film works. His character is perceptive, quick on his feet, and unafraid to test his courage. He has confidence, know-how and - apparently - all the time in the world. It makes for a dangerous combination.

Hanks, on the other hand, isn't sure whether to play Hanratty as a faceless pursuer or a buttoned-down Joe Friday. Catch Me gives us little information about the G-Man, while Frank's history is explored in depth - a device that helps us side with the hunted, not the hunter.

With its inventive story, eclectic cast, and authentic period feel, Catch Me should fly by but doesn't. Spielberg's been handed a unique life story that bounces around so quickly on its own power, it begs to be told in 100 minutes. Instead, the introspective storyteller drags the film out to a bloated 140 minutes with a distracting subplot surrounding Frank's incessant desire to reunite his divorced parents. As part of said subplot, Walken does his finest Walken, which always brings a smile. It's just not enough to keep us engaged, and these asides become the least believable element of an already far-fetched tale. When tripped up by Frank's familial issues, Catch Me allows the playful spirit of the chase to slip away, much like Frank slips through Carl's fingers.

A second DVD on this gem of a two-disc set offers a number of behind-the-scenes vignettes, notably including several interviews with the real Frank Abagnale. (Abagnale notes a fourth career he had -- sociology professor at Brigham Young University, after his work as a New Orleans attorney -- and that he served full prison sentences in France and Sweden.)

Caught.



Catch Me If You Can

Facts and Figures

Run time: 141 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 25th December 2002

Box Office USA: $164.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $351.1M

Budget: $52M

Distributed by: DreamWorks SKG

Production compaines: DreamWorks SKG

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 186 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Walter F. Parkes

Starring: as Frank Abagnale Jr., as Carl Hanratty, as Frank Abagnale, Sr., as Roger Strong, as Brenda Strong, as Jack Barnes, as Earl Amdursky, as Tom Fox, as Paul Morgan, as Special Agent Witkins, John Finn as Assistant Director Marsh, as Cheryl Ann, Nancy Lenehan as Carol Strong, as Marci, as Lucy, Guy Thauvette as Warden Garren, Candice Azzara as Darcy, Thomas Kopache as Principal Evans, as Paula Abagnale, Max Kerstein as Penner Brother, as Peggy

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