141 Min | Biography – Crime – Drama | December 2002
IMDB Rating: 8.0
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken
Catch Me If You Can Review: Catch Me If You Can is the screen adaptation of the autobiography of Frank Abagnale Jr. (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), renowned as one of America’s youngest and most successful con men. The story tells how Frank Jr. steals over four million dollars by forging checks while impersonating an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, all before his nineteenth birthday. The film also stars Tom Hanks as Carl Hanratty, the FBI special agent assigned to track down Frank Jr. By telling this cat-and-mouse story from both the perspective of the cat and the mouse, director Steven Spielberg shows that hard work and honesty are more rewarding in the long run than any get rich quick scheme.
The theme of Catch Me If You Can is best illustrated in scenes involving Frank Abagnale Jr. and Frank Sr., played by Christopher Walken (nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor). In one scene Frank Jr. treats his father to dinner in a fancy restaurant, where he tries to make a gift to his father of a brand new Cadillac. Although Frank Jr. has been forging checks and only posing as an airline pilot, he lies to his father and tells him that he has become a co-pilot for Pan-American airlines. By lying to his father, Frank Jr. shows that he understands the values his father has tried to teach him, even if his actions don’t reflect those same values. Although he has stolen everything he has, Frank Jr. knows that he can only gain his father’s approval by posing as someone who is hard working and respectable.
Spielberg uses many film elements to illustrate the theme in Catch Me If You Can. For example, When Frank Sr. is accepting an award honoring his hard work, he is filmed from a low angle. In contrast Frank Jr. is filmed from a high angle in the same scene. The combined effect of these two angles is to place Frank Sr. on a pedestal in his son’s eyes. Catch Me If You Can is a twentieth century retelling of Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare. Frank Abagnale Jr. is a smooth-talking con man who stays several steps ahead of the plodding FBI agent who pursues him. But by the end of the film we see the tortoise’s deliberate effort pay off as he finally catches up to the exhausted hare.