Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can is the true story of Frank W. Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), a cunning con man who poses as a doctor, lawyer, and pilot — all before turning 21. The son of an unsuccessful con man, Frank flees home when his parents’ marriage breaks up and starts on a spree of check forging and impersonations of respected professionals. He becomes a deft forger to the tune of over $2.5 million, but this attracts the attention of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), who makes it his mission to put him behind bars. But Frank not only eludes capture, he revels in the pursuit, even taking time to taunt Carl by phone. Steven Spielberg directs this comic caper based on a true story, a docudramedy about a real-life criminal mastermind before he was even old enough to drink. This movie takes us on a non-stop journey of this teenager who is conning his way around the world posing as others. This is a fascinating character study, and the fact that it is all based on a real person makes it all the more astounding. Frank Abagnale, Jr, was 16 in 1963, when he ran away from home after his parents divorced. Before he reached the age of 19, he had successfully posed as an airline pilot, a medical doctor, and an attorney after actually studying for and passing the Louisiana bar exam. I especially appreciated the fact that he was shown as he learned to be good at what he did rather than automatically being great right away. He successfully scammed financial institutions and the companies he was working for (under false identities) out of millions of dollars. Once the FBI learned his identity, they were hot on his trail. He is able to stay just ahead of the FBI agent, so it took them several years to catch him. His cleverness in escaping is fun to watch. This is not the usual cat and mouse kind of movie where the mouse is always one step ahead by design. It is pure luck that Abagnale is not caught on several occasions. I have never seen a film where one minute I was rooting for one character – but the next minute I was rooting for his enemy! No matter who you find yourself rooting for, this is a fun ride. While this is a crime drama, there is plenty of comic relief; and though a bit on the long side, the humor helps give it a seemingly faster pace — truly there are no wasted scenes. The FBI man is keen to his duty but knows that he is not chasing a hard boiled killer but rather and ingenious kid from a broken home trying to survive on his own by becoming a con man — or should I say a con boy! Tom Hanks puts all the right touches on his FBI role. A great pseudo-bond develops between the boy criminal and the FBI man pursuing him. He eludes the FBI for three years, but they finally catch up with him in Paris, put him in prison, and not much later take him out of prison and give a choice job helping the FBI track down forgers. It’s hard to believe someone could get away with as much as this character did. I was very much surprised to find out that the movie is based on a true story! It’s extremely helpful that the words “inspired by true events” occur before the film rather than at the end, because otherwise it would seem improbable that someone could get away with all of this. I guess it’s one of those examples of “truth is stranger than fiction.” Screenwriters of fiction could not have imagined a more unique plot. It is fascinating to realize that this is based on a true story. Not sure how faithful it is to the original story, but it’s highly entertaining. This movie is based on a book, based on a true story. This film is a very good adaptation of the book. The movie may be better than the book in that the film skipped minor details that are not crucial to the story. Quite a tale and well told. A real good romp. Entertaining, light-hearted, and funny. A fast moving story that is fun to watch. There isn’t a dull moment to be found in it — no slow spots. You will not be bored watching this movie, I guarantee that. Something in us wants to watch a con man at work (when we are not the victims). I am a huge Spielberg fan and must say this is one of his best. This is a quiet Spielberg hit, often overlooked in the excess of War of the Worlds and bigger films on his resume. I recommend this movie to everyone, especially anyone looking for non-violent movie. Wish there were more movies like this. On the bonus disc the real Frank Abagnale is interviewed, and his natural charm shines in a way that makes the whole story more believable. After seeing this film, I was inspired to read up about the actual Frank Abagnale. Quite an interesting and brilliant fellow! Great film. Docudrama 2002 PG-13 141 minutes.

SEE ALSO:

The Panama Deception

Uncovered: The War on Iraq

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