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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 Chris Parry

"If it hadn't said 'directed by Steven Spielberg', I wouldn't have known."
4 stars

Some directors are easy to identify just by their style. Show me the first five minutes of a David Lynch movie and I'll know who directed it. Show me the first five of a Spike Lee Joint, and you ain't fooling nobody. Well Steven Spielberg too has his own customary style - generally that first five minutes will introduce the 'little boy lost', smack us about the head with an orchestra and feature a nice big wide shot of a sprawling vista. Not so in Catch Me If You Can, a flick so un-Spielberg that it could have been directed by top drawer director. The 'Berg has given the cast room to move, the story room to develop and the emotions a chance to find their own way out, rather than be extracted by sugary music. I dug this movie. I dug it a lot. It'd be a hard flick not to enjoy.

Frank Abagnale Jr (Leonardo DiCaprio) just watched his family disintegrate. Mom's doing the head Rotarian, dad's being permanently harassed by the IRS, nothing seems to be going the way it's supposed to. So Frank, rather than pick a parent to spend his remaining teenage years with, decides to hop a train and hit the city.

While he's there, he finds that making ends meet legally isn't easy, but taking the illegal option certainly is. He starts passing off bad checks, figuring out that airline pilots are instantly trusted and respected, no matter where they go or what they ask for. A uniform later, our boy Frank is flying free cross-county, writing bad checks and moving on the the next city, ammasing well over a million bucks.

But all is not well when the FBI starts sniffing around and before long Agent Handratty (Tom Hanks) is right on his tail. Or at least, where his tail has just been.

Based on the true story of Abagnale and his adventures, it seems that Spileberg knows the story and the cast are all that this film needs to get over on the public, so rather than stitch it all up and tie a nice pink bow around it, Spileberg steps back and let's the big men do their thang. And yeah, Leo DiCaprio, when he's not being a royal pain in the arse of all around him, is a big man in the acting world. Kid can play.

Hanks, for mine, just gets better with every role he's snared in the last eighteen months. Be it in front of the camera (Road to Perdition) or behind it (Band of Brothers, My Big Fat Greek Wedding), he's just proving again and again that he's not the other half of the Hanks/Ryan duo, that he's got the cajones to pull off the impossible and the desire to use them.

And perhaps only someone with the pulling power of Spielberg could run shotgun with him and actually make him better at what he does. Sure, Saving Private Ryan had a few misfires - even some big ones - but Hanks learns and I get the impression Spielberg listens to him. When Band of Brothers came along, gone were the Spielberg formulas and Hanks tears and in their place was simply the best of Saving Private Ryan - the gritty reality. With Catch Me If You Can, they've gone the same route. There's a minimum of padding, a minimum of tearjerking. It's just fun to watch and amazing to try to comprehend this story of a teenage conman that didn't just get everything he wanted, he almost transcended the stigma of being a thief to be a legend.

And that's where perhaps my only bitch with this film lays - that the film truly celebrates this guy and his actions. When $1.3m is stolen from anyone, someone else pays for it and in a big way. Where are the insights into what happened to a bank teller that cashes a dud $1400 check? What do we know about what occurs next day to the hotel clerk that loans a fake airline pilot $300? These people may have lost jobs, maybe they had to repay the loss out of their own pocket, but we never see them once they've been duped. We never see the other side, we're simply asked to gape in awe at what this smart little dude tried, succeeded in and got away with. And even when he gets to prison, he's not really suffering... not really.

This beef aside, Catch Me If You Can, if taken without social context, is a fun movie to sink into. DiCaprio doesn't miss a step, Hanks hasn't missed one since 1983, and when it comes right down to it this is a flick that anyone and everyone should really have a good time with.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6492&reviewer=1
originally posted: 12/28/02 08:53:05
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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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