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Bams' review of
Catch Me If You Can


Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Rated PG-13; running time 151 minutes
Studio: DreamWorks Pictures
Genre: Crime/Comedy
Seen at: Celebration Cinema (Lansing, Michigan)
Official site:
IMDB site:
Music by: John Williams
Written by: Jeff Nathanson (based on the true story of Frank Abagnale)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Nathalie Baye, Amy Adams, Martin Sheen, Jennifer Garner

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003

(click here to skip to this movie's rating)

I love me some Andy Seiler (of USA Today); but I really have to stop reading his True Story Exposés - at least until I finish writing my own review. Gosh darn you, Andy!

THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
Catch Me If You Can tells the [ahem] "true" story of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), who from 1964 to 1966 - from 16 to 19 years old - ran one successful con after another. During this period, Abagnale impersonated a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, and even an airline pilot, amassing millions of dollars from forged checks, along the way.

Catch Me begins with Abagnale's appearance on the To Tell The Truth TV show some time after he was captured by FBI Bank Fraud agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). It then flashes back to Abagnale's beginnings with his mother (Nathalie Baye) and father (Christopher Walken), who, persecuted by the IRS, unwittingly teaches Frank Jr. the ins and outs of the con game. Junior perfects his con game over the next few years, in conning a cunning prostitute (Jennifer Garner), the lawyer father (Martin Sheen) of a candy-striper (Amy Adams) some years his senior, and even bigger scams to come.

oops...he did it again: Andy Seiler of USA Today, the "he" in question. This time, with his December 23, 2002 article titled Here's The Catch: True Tale Isn't, in which Seiler details just how tenuous the connection Catch Me If You Can has to the truth of Frank Abagnale Jr.'s real-life con man story.

The difference for me between last year's exposé (of A Beautiful Mind) and this one, though, is that I never really fully believed Catch Me If You Can as told, anyway. Sure, it's "Inspired By A True Story" - which sounds as if the truth was barely sprinkled over this movie, like so much pixie dust. But even without having the benefit of Seiler's article before I went to the theater, this flick somehow smelled of director Steven Spielberg's imagination, run amuck. Maybe it's just me, having too much faith in human nature; but it's hard for me to believe that that many people were that dumb, for such a long time - or that neither of Abagnale's parents would so much as lift a finger to take a more active role in searching for their missing son. And that's just for starters.

My Issues with the tale (as the movie tells it) go beyond its rampant unbelievability. Even more important than that, I found the movie lacking in humor, as if it were taking a cue from the dry-as-white-bread Carl Hanratty. Opportunity after opportunity for real honest to goodness lightness, if not outright comedy, went by without so much as a second glance. Not that this flick needed to be a laff-riot to succeed; but middling between not-so-serious and not-very-funny, ain't a good place for a movie like this to be.

But if the story in Catch Me failed to grab me by the short hairs, the same couldn't be said for the performances - especially that of Christopher Walken, taking a sane turn in this movie instead of his customary Nutcase role. My only problem with Walken, was that he didn't have nearly enough time on screen. Tom Hanks was also enjoyable, and had the best deadpan line in the movie; good thing I was only drinking water and not some stain-capable pop when the humorless Hanratty told the only joke he knows. And wonder of wonders: I even enjoyed Leo "DeCapitated" DiCaprio, mostly when he played Abagnale as a charmer. He (and Spielberg) lost me during his later scenes, but by then, the damage had already been done anyway. Unfortunately, it didn't help that Mr. A.I. himself once again dragged this movie well past its useful shelf life. Fortunately, John Williams' fantastic musical score helped to negate some of the low points of this decent movie.

To be fair, none of the principles, even Steven "still haven't figured out how to end a movie" Spielberg, did a bad job; and Spielberg is a master at capturing the bright side of life, as he did with the happy-peppy 60s here in Catch Me. So though this won't make my Best Of 2002 list, neither will it be one of the Worst. Bammer sez Catch it - during a matinee.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN:   fyellow

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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003
EMAIL:    ICQ: 7760005

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed through 12/31/02):
Bams' reviews:
Antwone Fisher | Catch Me If You Can | Far From Heaven

The Diva's reviews:
Antwone Fisher

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