More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 31.29%
Worth A Look45.4%
Average: 14.72%
Pretty Bad: 6.75%
Total Crap: 1.84%

9 reviews, 109 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy by Jay Seaver

Death of Dick Long, The by Jay Seaver

Blinded By the Light by Lybarger

Blinded By the Light by Peter Sobczynski

Good Boys by Peter Sobczynski

Divine Fury, The by Jay Seaver

Them That Follow by Jay Seaver

Bravest, The by Jay Seaver

Abyss, The by Rob Gonsalves

Bodies at Rest by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Catch Me If You Can
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Other Directors Try. They Just Can't!"
4 stars

How does he do it? How does one man wear so many hats, live so many identities, without anyone really catching on? Those are legitimate questions about the hero of this film, but an even more accurate assessment of its director, Steven Spielberg. It’s no secret that I wear my love for his work on my sleeve, cuff, shoulder and anywhere else you can think of. No film lover can sit there with a straight face and argue that Spielberg has created some of the greatest works ever to grace the cinema and those that can’t will either face my punch to wipe the smirk of hipness off their face or are just taking a contrary position to be in that minority group that believe smaller numbers equal true cinephiles. Spielberg has done it again. What “it” is will constantly be redefined, like the hero of this film; just another mirrored caricature assessment of the director’s career.

The hero in question is Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is described in an amusing “To Tell the Truth” bit as the greatest impostor the world has ever seen, going so far as to cash nearly four million dollars in fraudulent checks all before his 19th birthday. Hardly the model for hero worship, but in his audacity do we take notice and smile as his crimes reflect a playful innocence of the time and one not found in some of the film criminals we’ve rooted for in the past. (Spielberg used to sneak onto the Universal lot in a suit and tie when he was 16.)

Frank Jr. looked up to his father (Christopher Walken) a great deal. Honored by his peers, running his own business and living the American dream with a romanticized mindset, Junior saw Senior as a life worth living. The IRS didn’t see it that way and always lingered over his father like a cold he could just never shake. The love of his father’s life (Nathalie Baye) loses the spark in her heart the minute the money begins running out and in the midst of choosing between his parents, Frank takes off running to almost never look back. (Spielberg’s parents also divorced when he was very young.)

Finding out that an honest face won’t get you as far as a sharp-looking uniform, Frank manipulates the system by forging checks, hopping free plane rides and flashing his handsome exterior for the ladies. Dad would be so proud, wouldn’t he? One person who’s not impressed is FBI agent, Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), whose obsessiveness in getting his man doesn’t make him the life of the bureau, as evidenced in his sole Knock-Knock joke. The cat-and-mouse/cut-from-the-same-cloth cop/criminal relationship that develops between Frank and Carl doesn’t stem from admiration or the compulsion for mindgames as we’re used to seeing, but in a mutual bond missing from both their lives. Why else would Frank call Carl every Christmas?

Catch Me If You Can also reinvents itself from time-to-time from whimsical caper to a truly heartfelt drama without missing a step, punctuated in large part by John Williams’ beautiful jazzy score. To say DiCaprio hasn’t been this good in years would be senseless considering he’s spent most of his time over the past five years involved in overdelayed epics, but it’s the truth. The breezy charm he displays as Frank reminds us what a solid talent he is beyond the bland characters he’s taken since Titanic-fever swept the world. We believe that he can fool all these people while he still shows off the side that’s still just a boy in a man’s universe; one that would rather have a father by his side to guide him than to take on the world by himself.

Hanks is also having fun with his role; a somewhat trickier achievement as the second banana to the far more showier roles of the piece. With a thick New England accent and the standard issue look of the 60s intellectual, Hanks somehow manages to scale back his screen presence playing the repressed naivete to perfection making his scenes with DiCaprio prove all the more special, particularly when he’s being outwitted. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Christopher Walken play this kind of role as well. Either typecast as the resident psychotic or comedically playing off that typecast, it’s easy to disavow Walken as just a novelty that brings a smile to our face rather than long-term respect. Walken gets it all back here as Frank Sr. with a performance so wonderfully mannered from success to shame that it grounds the film away from our wondrous appreciation of Jr’s scams and back to the reality of what’s right and wrong and why. He is about one big scene from winning the Oscar this year.

Catch Me If You Can is not exactly the flashiest of films from Spielberg and that’s just fine because this guy is a born storyteller and has been throughout his entire career. Every time someone brings up a list of the greatest living directors, it’s almost as if they go out of their way not to mention Spielberg. Martin Scorsese makes a film every 2-3 years and he’s considered genius before the product hits the street, overlooking any inherent flaws because of the name on the director’s credit. Robert Altman gets 400 actors in his films and he’s branded a legendary auteur because every one of them gets a scene and he can squeeze them all into the same frame.

In 1993, Spielberg released both Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List. In two 18-month periods between 1997-98 and 2001-02, he created The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, A.I., Minority Report and now, Catch Me If You Can. Find me a director who has worked as often, has created such a vast array of acclaimed stories and made at least three that will go down in history as some of the finest works ever to grace cinema (all 15-25 years after Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. just to mention a few) and I’ll brand you a liar and a moron faster than you can say A-BAG-NALE.

Spielberg has worked in nearly every genre, inspired many would-be filmmakers not repentant against the hipsters and has consistently woven a new yarn with the passing of every popcorn kernel. Yes, he’s the most successful film director in history (and there’s a reason for that) so why should he receive any less praise than any of the old-school or new generation filmmakers whom I guarantee have seen a Spielberg film and gone “Wow!” As Richard Dreyfuss represented him in his early work to Elliott’s stargazing to Indiana Jones’ manchild adventurer, Frank Abagnale Jr. IS Steven Spielberg; jumping from one identity to the next, perpetually on the move, daring everyone to catch him…if you can. But you can’t.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 12/25/02 16:35:33
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

5/14/14 Nina Freund I have read the book and the movie does not live up to the book. Hanks did a splendid job. 2 stars
12/24/13 Michelle O another Hanks winner, he makes Leo look good 4 stars
9/15/12 roscoe excellent leads, but does not sustain interest over the long haul. becomes redundant. 4 stars
3/14/11 Pamela White Real Life makes good plots 4 stars
2/25/08 SamanthaP it's a really great movie, tom hanks is really great in it, the story is great! 4 stars
1/27/08 Pamela White Leo is wonderful and the chase is great 5 stars
7/14/06 Roy It was okay 5 stars
6/14/06 MP Bartley Sheer, blissful entertainment. Spielberg's funniest film yet and Di Caprio is superb. 5 stars
5/26/06 William Goss Not particularly satisfying, but keeps your interest nonetheless. 3 stars
5/08/06 Thomas Semesky I liked it a lot better, after viewing it a second time. 4 stars
2/23/06 Frank Rountree Good movie, very entertaining 4 stars
11/16/05 Quigley this movie was mass cool. Spielberg, you've done it again. 4 stars
9/09/05 Ric Never fully works as drama or comedy, but it's worth a look for Spielberg fans. 3 stars
8/30/05 LS Galvin Incredible film - DiCaprio is superb! 5 stars
8/12/05 Bloop Me Stoop Solid and interesting despite a slow first 1/2 hour 4 stars
7/24/05 C Vega A surprisingly great film......di caprio also surprisingly works well with hanks 5 stars
6/07/05 Anthony G Not bad, not bad... 4 stars
3/27/05 indrid cold OK, but we expect more from Spielberg. 3 stars
10/05/04 Steve Newman What a fantastic film - definately recommend it to all 5 stars
9/26/04 Tor Honolulu I hate Hanks AND Speilberg but Leo brought out the best in the both of them 5 stars
7/11/04 Daveman Fantastic camera wor, lighting and editing and a more than decent story. 4 stars
6/21/04 Rock Hound I liked it so much, I bought the DVD! A good how-to for wannabe grifters. And TRUE! 5 stars
6/18/04 T. Maj Tom Hanks accent made my ears bleed ("knawwk, knawwk"!?!) 3 stars
4/18/04 elizaveta surprisingly enjoyable, given the two leads and director. I actually managed to like DiCap 4 stars
4/12/04 gnarkill love it 5 stars
4/06/04 jonatan wuj was ok 3 stars
3/26/04 bbb woo 5 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva great cast 5 stars
2/14/04 joha I'm from Boston and Hanks' accent sucks. It distracted me from a pretty decent movie. 3 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Very very good, but also quite long. But I suppose they even each other out. 4 stars
1/03/04 A F Just put Leo on screen for an hour and the ladies will come a runnin'. Nothing 2 stars
12/16/03 Phil M. Aficionado Enjoyable, if a bit trite and "forced"; truth is stranger than fiction here, and more fun. 4 stars
12/07/03 john surprise - a good new Spielberg film 4 stars
12/07/03 Jenn everything from the opening credits to the very end(happy ending) was well done. Mad tight. 4 stars
10/20/03 Helen Bradley Great story and acting very above average 5 stars
10/10/03 shrikant s bhatkar it my imagination 5 stars
10/10/03 Erik Van Sant That's a good Spielberg...You're two for two. Don't fuck it up. 5 stars
9/27/03 Honolulu Tur I couldn't believe I liked a movie Hanks was in; Leo is always fantastic 5 stars
9/06/03 Dimitri Aubert Very original movie, good break from hollywood special effect nightmare movies. 4 stars
8/25/03 R.W. Welch Everybody loves a great con man. Entertaining (& educational). 4 stars
7/30/03 Taylor Fladgate Just Average! Big deal, he cashes fake checks. Don't believe the hype! 3 stars
6/19/03 ohla Leo deserved an Oscar nom.,Fun but also touching 5 stars
6/05/03 Erik Van Sant El-Spielbergo actually is back in his game. This movie is great from start to finish. 5 stars
5/29/03 Maalstrom Great Acting and a Intriguing Story told 5 stars
5/15/03 jada a little too long & slow, DiCaprio is well cast 4 stars
5/14/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!!!) 100% entertaining, Spielberg hasn't lost his touch, and lots of hot chicks. 5 stars
5/11/03 Blutarski Liked Leo (unusual), Loved Walken (as usual) enjoyable film 4 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink disappointing. Spielberg doesn't know exactly what story he wants to tell. Walken is great. 3 stars
4/20/03 Dillon Who knew, Stevo? He lets Leo, Tommy & Walken do some great work. A lot of fun. 5 stars
4/17/03 Shadaan Felfeli I enjoyed the film except the ending when melodrama retards this otherwise fast paced film. 4 stars
4/15/03 reptilesni I forgot that DiCaprio could act! Fun fluffy movie. 4 stars
3/24/03 Winthrop J Applesmythe III damn good flick. 5 stars
3/06/03 Eschenennock Manville Riveting story. Presence of much underrated Amy Adams an extra bonus. 5 stars
2/26/03 Aiken Drum Tripe. Plot holes, Hanks is wooden. DiCaprio injects some charm. 3 stars
2/26/03 Blabity blah Good solid movie. Good plot, solid acting. Entertaining. 4 stars
2/23/03 dave its great, so cool. 5 stars
2/20/03 tom comer it is good 1 stars
2/19/03 Mike B Hearing Hanks say "Go fuck yourself" is always worth the price of admission. 5 stars
2/17/03 Simon N I have a new idle 5 stars
2/15/03 Ramesh Muthusamy makes me wanna be a conman now! 5 stars
2/10/03 Suzz Smart and entertaining. Even Leo wasn't annoying. 4 stars
2/05/03 Lord of the Flames Hank, Walken and mostly DiCaprio make this film a solid movie, good, not great 4 stars
2/04/03 Jake Wow, what a great film! 5 stars
2/03/03 Sophie Wallace Great Movie! DiCaprio at his best... Hanks is a natural on this movie & very Un-Spielberg!! 5 stars
2/03/03 Michael B. Unrealistic, concept old and already done better, Hanks' role weak, crappy end, too long 2 stars
2/03/03 Angie R Go see it. It's a fun ride 4 stars
2/03/03 LYNDON I like the story alot. I love it. 5 stars
2/02/03 Shaun loved it 5 stars
2/01/03 anglesey man Da iawn wir!! 4 stars
1/28/03 pipeman better than I thought it would be 4 stars
1/27/03 Edler Fortunately, it is not as cutsie as the ads implied. It was fairly serious and pretty good 4 stars
1/27/03 I Can't Swim Leo is back in a big way; movie is not ruined by Hanks, miracle of miracles 5 stars
1/21/03 .Choadushouse. Great development. Good humor and emotional value. Highly entertaining. Leo rules as always 5 stars
1/20/03 james well worth a look...a very smart film. 4 stars
1/17/03 LF how can it be far fetched? Its a true story!! and an awesome one at that 5 stars
1/17/03 MoVeEeEeE!! great movie, seen it twice, leo was AWESUM!! very funny too!! 5 stars
1/11/03 thejames Not the best movie of all time. But it entertaining and touching. Deserves a Fucking Awesom 5 stars
1/10/03 Goofy Maxwell Coulda been Spielberg's "Straight Out of Bronxville". But this was more fun! 4 stars
1/08/03 JHef Entertaining, a good performance by Leo. But storyline is pretty far fetched. 4 stars
1/08/03 Snake OVERLONG! OVERRATED! 2 stars
1/07/03 Hugh Jass Based off a true story with a Hollywood edge, can't get too much better! 4 stars
1/07/03 kisuts ok, but below par for hanks and Spielberg. DiCaprio has improved. 3 stars
1/07/03 Vicious DiCaprio proves his ability, and the story is very intruiging. 5 stars
1/07/03 cpbjr Very well done. 4 stars
1/07/03 Rebo Valence DiCaprio is really underrated. He was great, and I was only expecting to like Tom Hanks! 5 stars
1/07/03 Leo Can't Act You mean DiCapprio didn't really drown at the end of Titanic? Damnit... 1 stars
1/06/03 Holstice I wanted to see so much more of Brenda, the girl he supposedly loved. That was a sweet arc 4 stars
1/05/03 ownerofdajoint it's all about the benjamins and show me the money this movie is a microcosm '60's U.S. 5 stars
1/05/03 Titus Just didn't do it for me. Needed to be edited a bit. Lots of pointless scenes. 3 stars
1/04/03 Jarrod_101 really good, but didn't know when to end. 4 stars
1/04/03 George Jung Starts off strong, gets weak, then finishes early-Like most of Spielberg's jerk-off movies. 4 stars
1/03/03 Yo Mama! Very good, funny, enjoyable. Best knock-knock joke ever! 5 stars
1/03/03 Monday Morning Fun. No more, no less, just fun. But not worth $7. 4 stars
1/02/03 Bobadier Me knock knock, who's there, (pause) go fuck yourself 5 stars
1/01/03 bob one of the best I've seen in the last two years 4 stars
1/01/03 Jesse the Movie Ventura Good quality fun. Great acting. Not great but good. 4 stars
12/31/02 ownerofdajoint whataphenomanalmoviefromstarttofinsh 5 stars
12/30/02 Leon Trotsky It was hella fun, OK? Nothing wrong with that. 4 stars
12/30/02 Obi Wan Great Flick!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/30/02 Angry Black Man Saw this while drunk. Leo still looks like a hot lesbian. Boring for a Speilberg movie. 3 stars
12/29/02 paul excellent 4 stars
12/29/02 Flick Chick entertaining 4 stars
12/27/02 davis field erik is NOT the best critic on the web. he's 2 busy suckin spielberg's cock! cheesy shite 1 stars
12/27/02 Mason Great!!!! 5 stars
12/26/02 jeff in montco "A good year," Terry M? Moron. Once more, Spielberg does it right 4 stars
12/26/02 Greg Edmiston You won't be disappointed. 5 stars
12/26/02 jefftucson Awesome film. Erik remains the best film critic on the web. 5 stars
12/26/02 Terry M. Spielberg is not God! He's overrated. Having a good year yes. What about 1941?! Amistad? 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  25-Dec-2002 (PG-13)



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast