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Overall Rating
3.98

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

9 reviews, 109 user ratings


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Catch Me If You Can
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Brian McKay

"At least they didn't catch him ON the can"
4 stars

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is one of those films that tries to show how fun crime can be, introducing a criminal protagonist that an audience can't help but like - or envy. In this case, the part calls for a young man who is in reality 18 but passes himself off as a 28 year old. Who better for the role than Leonardo Dicaprio, who is 28 but is still in full command of those youthful good looks and the accompanying charm

De Caprio plays Frank Abagnale Jr., a young man whose world has just been turned upside down. His once all-American 1950's home life is disrupted by an IRS investigation of his father, Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken), a rotarion businessman who has been up to shady dealings and has a bit of con man in him. Frank Sr. is suddenly forced to sell their house and move Frank Jr. and his wife, Paula (Nathalie Bay), into a small 2-bedroom apartment. To make matters even more uncomfortable, Frank Jr. discovers that his mom is sleeping around with dad's best friend. What's a boy to do?

What he does is hit the road, with only the clothes on his back and a checkbook for an account that has 75 dollars in it, he uses his seemingly innate skills of deduction, persuasion, and sleight of hand to launch a major check kiting scheme. In addition, he begins to take on the persona of prestigious working professionals like doctors, lawyers, and airline pilots.

Meanwhile, Agent Carl Handratty (Tom Hanks) of the FBI has caught wise to Frank's schemes. Handratty is all business, a joyless and slavishly dedicated civil servant who embraces his work to get away from the pain of losing his wife and daughter to divorce. He's the kind of guy who works on Christmas Eve, and his character is pure Joe Friday - just the facts, Ma'am. On the other hand, he tells a mean "knock knock" joke.

The first time he catches Frank Jr. red handed in a motel room full of counterfeitting equipment, Handratty actually lets him get away because Frank convinces him that he is a Secret Service agent who got there before Handratty did. He even manages to walk out with his check counterfeiting machine on the pretext that he's just taking the evidence down to the car. With wounded professional pride and a bruised ego, Handratty makes it his mission in life to track Frank down. A few years and near misses later, he finally does - but not before Frank manages to cash millions of dollars in fraudulent checks, and sleep with some gorgeous women. He even convinces a stunning call girl with an asking price of $1000 to give him $400 in cash as change for a fraudulent $1400 cashier's check. He got paid 400 bucks to sleep with a smoking hot chick - isn't that the American dream?

While the fugitive and the agent share a rivalry, they also share a bond, as evidenced by their yearly Christmas Eve phone call. And while Frank seems to be getting away scott free at first, his actions reap obvious consequences down the road. His crimes end up costing him a fiancee', and all the money he pulls in can't keep his family life from unraveling after his mother leaves his father. While moments of this feel genuine, others feel a tad manipulative, as if to say "See, he's not such a bad kid" after all. Oh sure, you can send him away with a slap on the wrist and ruffled hair - until he empties YOUR bank account. Having recently had my account drained by debit card fraud, and after spending a hellish week rectifying the situation with an unhelpful banking institution, I have no qualms about locking up the Frank Abagnales of the world. However, DiCaprio still manages to put a sympathetic spin on Frank, and a role like this one is what he needs to put him back on respectable turf after turkeys like The Beach or The Man in the Iron Mask. As an actor, DiCaprio has moments of sheer brilliance, once someone gives him the tools to work with (Let's face it, The Beach couldn't have been saved if Jesus Christ himself had taken the lead).

By the same token, Hanks is quite enjoyable as the stodgy Handratty. In an odd turn of events, he becomes almost a second father to Frank, and manages to temper his character's unbending forthrightness with compassion. Walken also delivers a sympathetic Frank Sr., a man who's made some bad choices (including an overindulgent attitude toward his son's crimes) but who is still a loving father and husband.

The performances are great, and the direction (like most of Spielberg's work recently) is thoroughly competent, if falling short of greatness. What leaves us wanting more is the script. There are too many gaps between Frank Abagnale, the average high-school kid, and Frank Abagnale the multi-million dollar con artiste'. We are led to believe that he got most of his knowledge about check fraud and impersonation from questioning flirty bank tellers and watching reruns of Marcus Welby or Perry Mason. Surely it must have been a bit more inovolved than that, but the audience never really gets to see it. While he apparently picked up a few tricks from the old man, it's not like Frank Sr. was some full-blown carnie grifter either. Perhaps those blanks were left unfilled for a reason, lest someone actually pay attention to the film closely enough to try and pull off some of Frank's schemes. It seems a bit silly, though, since most of the check fraud schemes that he pulled off with pure charm in the 60's would probably not go over so well in the computer-dependent and paranoid new millenium. Still, it's a shame we didn't get to see more details about Frank's "education", because his display of knowledge about forgery tactics near the film's conclusion is by far the most fascinating scene.

In the end, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is just the kind of film that the title implies - a mostly lighthearted and playful look at the life of a criminal, with just enough dramatic backbone to keep it grounded in the reality of its source material. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is an enjoyable, but forgettable, two hours - although what could have been a great film is merely a good one by way of forsaking the gritty details for directorial sleight of hand.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6492&reviewer=258
originally posted: 01/20/03 15:06:26
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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
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT WHAT BEGINS BRIGHTLY GETS BOGGED DOWN OVER 140 MINUTES 2 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 movie.....fun, 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Dec-2002 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  09-Jan-2003




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