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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
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Spielberg just having a lark."
5 stars

It maybe could've used some tightening, but 'Catch Me If You Can' is still the most purely fun Steven Spielberg film since his incredible decade-long streak as a master entertainer (from, say, 1975 to 1985, when he started yearning to sit at the grown-up table with 'The Color Purple').

There's nothing in particular riding on the movie, no stentorian tributes to historical courage; it's just Spielberg larking -- it's not important. (Even the enjoyable Minority Report unfurled Big Statements about privacy and the future of law enforcement.) And the movie's very lightness has freed up Spielberg, made him a looser and more generous director than we've witnessed in some time.

Based on Frank W. Abagnale's memoir, the film tracks young Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) from age sixteen as he flits around putting on and discarding identities with the casual breeziness and imperturbable suavity of a born con man. His antics, which include forging millions of dollars' worth of checks and posing as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, catch the eye of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), a grim, businesslike bear (Hanks makes him humorously humorless) who makes it his life's work to catch Frank. The movie, for all its location shifts and elaborate scams, is essentially a feature-length chase, which puts it in the league of early single-minded Spielberg entries like Duel and especially The Sugarland Express.

If you plan a double-feature rental of the two December 2002 Leo flicks, Gangs of New York and Catch Me If You Can, do yourself a favor and take in Gangs first; then settle in for Catch Me and rediscover Leonardo DiCaprio the actor. Disgruntled and one-note in Gangs, DiCaprio opens up wide in Catch Me, having obvious fun that he doesn't hesitate to share. He's basically playing an actor -- a kid bold enough to sell strangers on whichever persona he's trying on -- and DiCaprio glows with the sneaky joy of imposture. His scenes with Christopher Walken, gainfully cast against type as Frank's loving dad, flow with an affectionate intimacy that caught me by surprise. When Frank impersonates a substitute French teacher and his parents are called in, Walken's expressions -- when he finds out what the kid's been up to, and when he can't suppress a grin at his son -- speak volumes: Frank is a more successful chip off the old block.

This is a classic Spielberg film in spirit and theme, but not in style. With Schindler's List, Spielberg made two major changes in his familiar approach: He dropped his usual tics like dolly shots and Close Encounters backlighting, and he took on cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who's been with him for almost a decade now. Catch Me If You Can is Spielberg's most colorful film in years -- certainly not the monochromatic blue of Minority Report -- and it's shot with soft filters and relaxed compositions that recall the movies of the period (the mid- to late-'60s). The movie feels a little long here and there, particularly in the segment dealing with Frank's engagement to a fresh-faced Atlanta blonde (Amy Adams), but it still goes like a shot without seeming rushed. Making a movie about a wunderkind of deception, Spielberg must've tapped into his old self, the big-fibber and fantasist who told great lies like Jaws and Close Encounters and made us believe them.

The movie is a good time. It not only produces happiness, it is happy. It buzzes with the pleasure of people -- on camera and behind it, in and out of screen character -- who are damn good at what they do and love doing it. Even the stoic Carl Hanratty gets a contact high from Frank's sheer daring, and gets electrified by the possibility that he may finally have an adversary worth the chase. Hanratty moves heaven and earth to bring the kid to book but, on some level, can't help loving Frank's ingenuity and skill. Neither can Spielberg.

'Catch Me If You Can' is not an intensely personal film for Spielberg. That's what's so good about it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6492&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/10/07 12:43:22
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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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