Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Reviewed on 2012 January 30
This is the fact-based tale of Frank Abagnale Jr., a con man who led the FBI through a series of hoops to try to bring him to justice. There are a few deviations from Abagnale’s autobiography, which I’ve read, but it captures the feeling of the book and the essence of his story very well.
Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) is too smart for his own good, and his father (Christopher Walken) is a good mentor, showing his son how to charm his way through life. You see from the beginning he doesn’t have the best role models as parents; one of his stunts makes his father (and honestly, most of us watching) laugh. Frank decides to grab the brass ring, kiting checks right and left, passing himself off as a pilot or a doctor, and working his way up with increasing chutzpah. The catch is, the kid didn’t even finish high school.
No matter how skilled you are, someone, somewhere and somehow, is going to get wise to you. Frank attracts the attention of a very stubborn and methodical FBI agent named Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). Hanratty makes it his life’s mission to catch this guy, and gives no quarter when he learns this is just a kid doing all of this; it only makes him more bull-headed and more insistent upon bringing him to justice.
It’s hard to fail with a good script, good acting, and a crazy story based on actual events. This works because while it doesn’t condone what Abagnale did, you can’t help but marvel at the kid’s brilliance and nerve. Hanks does a good job suppressing his normal cheerful self here to be the determined Hanratty. I missed it, but there’s even a bit with the real Abagnale, who had a French mother, as a French police officer. Very entertaining.
Three chocolate morsels and something served in a glass for another kind of drink, just to keep people guessing.