Catch Me If You Can (2002)
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Review Date: December 25, 2002
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Jeff Nathanson
Producers: Steven Spielberg, Nathan Parkes
Leonardo DiCaprio
Tom Hanks
Christopher Walken
Based on the real-life adventures of a 16-year old boy who fooled a whole lotta people into believing that he was an actual airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer over a period of many years, this film focuses on his many swindles, as well as his cat-and-mouse game with the FBI. Easy-going entertainment ensues.
A fun, fluffy, harmless, good-time movie ideal for the X-Mas holidays with a groovy story, a retro look & feel, a snappity-snap-snap score and plenty of entertainment all around. I don't see this film bowling anyone over with its humor, its story or its acting, but all three elements are well presented here with enough chuckles to keep things light, a true story to keep all intrigued and actors like DiCaprio, Hanks and Walken, doing what they do best. DiCaprio is as charming as always (loved his scene as a substitute teacher), Walken, a little different in a role that actually gives him more levels to play other than "creepy", and Hanks is okay as the FBI agent, although not particularly consistent with his New England accent, which seemed to come and go at the drop of a hat. And speaking of hats, you also gotta give it up to this film's wonderful cinematography (from Spielberg's right-hand man Janusz Kaminski, once again), the set designs, the costumes and everything from the 60s, all of which looked and felt like it came right out of that era. The directing, on the other hand, wasn't particularly colorful, although I did love that one shot of DiCaprio's character sitting in a movie theater as the camera swooshed right over the crowd and right up into his face. Nice! The opening credit sequence was also standout with the film's light-hearted, infectious score setting things up just right. Some of the stuff that didn't work for me included the reasoning behind Frank's chicaneries, which seemed a little "forced" in respect to his father, still not entirely sure what the hell Jennifer Garner was doing in a two-minute cameo, nor did I think that the character of the mother was developed enough.

Small quirks in an otherwise risk-free movie which features a number of fun capers as one very charming, sexy and seemingly irresistible character fleeces folks out of millions of dollars and plenty of free goodies (kinda reminded me of myself, although without the charm, the sexiness, the irresistible factor or the ability to fleece anyone out of even a dollar and ten cents). Some of the cons did seem a little unbelievable though (like when an entire airport full of FBI agents and cops were goofed up by a half dozen pretty stewardesses-yeah, they were called "stewardesses" back then!), but seeing as the film kept its tone "light" throughout, I didn't have too much trouble going along with it all. It's also to note that the picture is actually "inspired" by the real Frank Abagnale's story (who makes a cameo appearance as a "French Policeman" here and apparently has an IQ of 136 in real life), so I suppose a couple of bits were altered for entertainment purposes as well. Spielberg also seems to be making a habit out of "ending" his films about 20 minutes before they're really over, and then elongating them out. I didn't particularly mind the final sequences in his last two films (although admittedly, I think A.I. would have been even stronger had it ended underwater), and the same can be said here, with a certain Spielberg-esque, happy-go-lucky feel to the finale. And yes, as per most "true stories", we also get the obligatory update on the real Abagnale's life right before the end credits, a tactic that has always been appreciated by yours truly. In the end, I can't see anyone either loving or hating this movie entirely, but then again...that's just my two beans. Overall, it's an easy watch, a fun story with a few laughs, a couple of tense moments, a little action, a little romance, cool music and a great look. PS: I also loved the "knock, knock" joke...I gotta use that one myself.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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