Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, Jr.
Tom Hanks as Carl Hanratty
Christopher Walken as Frank Abagnale, Sr.
Jennifer Garner as Prostitute
Amy Adams as Brenda
Martin Sheen as Brenda’s Father
Frank John Hughes as Tom Fox
Brian Howe as Earl Amdursky
In the late 1950’s, Frank Abagnale, Jr. grew up as an only child. His father, though in trouble with the IRS, always loved him and taught him the finer points of getting ahead in the world. With a little con here and there, his father had no idea how Frank Jr. was taking the lessons to heart. In high school Frank showed up and began pretending to the his French class’s substitute teacher .for a week.
However, Frank’s ideal world begins to fall apart when his mother files for divorce from his father. As a teenager, Frank runs away from home to New York. He begins to use his con artists skills to make money. He begins with some bad check writing, and then graduates to forging checks. His scam escalates when he decides to begin impersonating a Pan Am co-pilot. Not only does he start forging Pan Am paychecks, he starts hitching rides on other airlines for free. The cons and deceptions continue to get more elaborate with him impersonating a doctor, a lawyer, and writing fake checks for millions of dollars.
It doesn’t take the FBI long to get wise to him. Catching him, though, is another matter entirely. Carl Hanratty makes it his personal mission to bring Frank to justice. However, Frank’s uncanny ability to talk his way out of any situation allows to him slip away from trap after trap. Can Frank ever be caught? And does he secretly want to be caught?
“Catch Me If You Can” is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and brief language.
This story is so outrageous that if I didn’t know it was based on a true story I would have thought it was just bogus Hollywood garbage. Frank Abagnale, Jr. pulled off so many impossible scams before he was 19 that you can hardly believe he was able to do it. By simply flashing a bogus diploma, wearing a stolen uniform, or laying on the charm thickly he could get in anywhere and do anything. I’ve seen people sneak into restricted areas and events before on nothing more than boldness, but Frank Abagnale, Jr. takes it to such an incredible level. The fact that he doesn’t hurt anyone while doing it and he’s a likable guy makes it a really fun story. It was a great story to tell for Spielberg and it ends up being his best comedy.
A lot of people hate Leonardo DiCaprio simply because he is a pretty-boy with a lot of press who starred in the most successful movie of all time. However, the guy can really act. You have no trouble believing that he’s a teenager in high school in “Catch Me If You Can”. You immediately buy him as a doctor, a lawyer, or airline pilot despite the fact that he just got his driver’s license. Like Abagnale himself, he’s able to sell himself in no matter what role you see him playing in this movie.
Tom Hanks is also fantastic as FBI agent Carl Hanratty. The guy is obsessed, driven, and totally devoted to his work. Hanks plays him as a humorless fellow who on the one hand despises Abagnale, yet on the other hand admires him and is sympathetic to him. Hanks and DiCaprio do a good job of transforming Hanratty from a soulless FBI agent to a type of father figure for Frank. It’s a performance unlike any of Hank’s other roles. From mannerisms to accent to personality, Hanks really becomes this character when on screen.
The rest of the cast is well rounded out in a number of great supporting roles. Christopher Walken is wonderful as Frank’s father. You really believe these guys have a strong bond as father and son. Martin Sheen appears as a potential father-in-law for Frank. His reactions to Frank’s tall tales are priceless. Jennifer Garner even turns up in a brief role as a prostitute. She draws one of the bigger laughs in the movie when she attempts to pull a con on the con man.
Overall the movie is a fun ride and an interesting tale about the life of one of America’s greatest con men. This story was really entertaining and is a unique addition to Spielberg’s filmography. This movie really made me want to pick up Abagnale’s book and read more about his life’s story.
What Didn’t Work: