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Overall Rating
3.98

Awesome: 31.29%
Worth A Look45.4%
Just Average: 14.72%
Pretty Crappy: 6.75%
Sucks: 1.84%

9 reviews, 109 user ratings


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Catch Me If You Can
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by EricDSnider

"Spielberg kicks back and enjoys himself."
4 stars

"An honest man has nothing to fear," Frank Abagnale Jr. tells his father in a letter. "So I'm trying my best not to be afraid."

The problem is that Frank is not an honest man and therefore has every reason to be afraid. The FBI is on his tail, and his web of lies is spreading more every day, reaching into every single aspect of his life. Surely all of this will come crashing down. Surely fear is something Frank ought to feel a lot of.

Steven Spielberg's thoroughly enjoyable new film "Catch Me If You Can" does not focus on the fear that pervades the life of a con artist, though, choosing to dwell instead on the entertainment value of Frank's story. And that element is considerable. We honest folk enjoy hearing tales of cleverness and thievery, from "The Sting" to "Ocean's Eleven," particularly when the bad guys don't hurt or kill anyone. "Catch Me If You Can" is Spielberg's most agenda-free, just-for-kicks story since "The Lost World," and the boyish love of a good romp that made his films of the 1980s so enjoyable is evident in every corner.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Frank Abagnale Jr. in this slightly fictionalized account of the real-life Abagnale, who posed as an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer for six years in the 1960s, evading the FBI and passing bad checks the entire time before finally being captured.

As depicted in the film, Frank comes by his talents for lying naturally, his father (Christopher Walken) being a small-time con man himself occasionally, when it suits him. Dad has a stationery store in upstate New York with a lot of IRS troubles, and he sweet-talks his way out of problems whenever possible. It is worth noting that he is not nearly as successful at fooling people as his much handsomer, more charming son is.

Frank Jr., devastated by his parents' sudden divorce, leaves home at age 16. He winds up in New York City, where he observes that airline pilots are treated like celebrities and are always surrounded by gorgeous stewardesses. Soon, he is passing himself off as a pilot and manufacturing (and cashing) fake payroll checks from PanAm at hotels that cater to pilots.

It snowballs from there, though the film's major flaw is that we're not shown how or why. One minute Frank is cashing checks for $300; next thing we know, he has bilked a total of $1.5 million. How did he go from penny-ante stuff to large-scale embezzlement? What motivated him to stop making a living and start making a fortune? His motives are not evil: The only individual (rather than billionaire corporation) he's ever shown defrauding is a prostitute.

But again, the film's focus is the adventure of it all, not the psychology behind it. To that end, we spend a lot of time with Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), the humorless FBI agent who is doggedly pursuing Frank. Armed with a businesslike attitude, a harsh New England accent and a no-nonsense G-man hat, Hanks is a slightly cartoonish version of the classic government agent, a cross between "Dragnet's" Joe Friday and, well, Tom Hanks. Not since "The Fugitive" have both sides of the law been so charismatic and worthy of being rooted for.

DiCaprio's performance is impressive, better than "Gangs of New York" and certainly better than "Titanic." The role is perfect for him: Both he and Frank can play kids as well as grown-ups, and here he often has to play both in the same scene. DiCaprio more than adequately conveys the kid-in-a-candy-store mentality of a teenager who has stumbled onto a great scheme. In the rare moments when Frank is dragged back into reality, the disappointment on his face is almost heartbreaking, like a little kid who's been busted for doing something really fun that happens to be against the rules.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6492&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/01/03 01:45:43
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User Comments

5/13/14 Nina Freund I have read the book and the movie does not live up to the book. Hanks did a splendid job. 2 stars
12/23/13 Michelle O another Hanks winner, he makes Leo look good 4 stars
9/14/12 roscoe excellent leads, but does not sustain interest over the long haul. becomes redundant. 4 stars
3/13/11 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
2/24/08 SamanthaP it's a really great movie, tom hanks is really great in it, the story is great! 4 stars
1/26/08 Pamela White Leo is wonderful and the chase is great 5 stars
7/13/06 Roy It was okay 5 stars
6/13/06 MP Bartley Sheer, blissful entertainment. Spielberg's funniest film yet and Di Caprio is superb. 5 stars
5/25/06 William Goss Not particularly satisfying, but keeps your interest nonetheless. 3 stars
5/07/06 Thomas Semesky I liked it a lot better, after viewing it a second time. 4 stars
2/22/06 Frank Rountree Good movie, very entertaining 4 stars
11/15/05 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
8/29/05 LS Galvin Incredible film - DiCaprio is superb! 5 stars
8/11/05 Bloop Me Stoop Solid and interesting despite a slow first 1/2 hour 4 stars
7/23/05 C Vega A surprisingly great film......di caprio also surprisingly works well with hanks 5 stars
6/06/05 Anthony G Not bad, not bad... 4 stars
3/26/05 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
9/25/04 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
6/20/04 Rock Hound I liked it so much, I bought the DVD! A good how-to for wannabe grifters. And TRUE! 5 stars
6/17/04 T. Maj Tom Hanks accent made my ears bleed ("knawwk, knawwk"!?!) 3 stars
4/17/04 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
4/05/04 jonatan wuj was ok 3 stars
3/26/04 bbb woo 5 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva great cast 5 stars
2/13/04 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
1/02/04 A F Just put Leo on screen for an hour and the ladies will come a runnin'. Nothing 2 stars
12/15/03 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
12/06/03 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
10/09/03 Erik Van Sant That's a good Spielberg...You're two for two. Don't fuck it up. 5 stars
9/26/03 Honolulu Tur I couldn't believe I liked a movie Hanks was in; Leo is always fantastic 5 stars
9/05/03 Dimitri Aubert Very original movie, good break from hollywood special effect nightmare movies. 4 stars
8/24/03 R.W. Welch Everybody loves a great con man. Entertaining (& educational). 4 stars
7/29/03 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
5/28/03 Maalstrom Great Acting and a Intriguing Story told 5 stars
5/14/03 jada a little too long & slow, DiCaprio is well cast 4 stars
5/13/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!!!) 100% entertaining, Spielberg hasn't lost his touch, and lots of hot chicks. 5 stars
5/10/03 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
4/19/03 Dillon Who knew, Stevo? He lets Leo, Tommy & Walken do some great work. A lot of fun. 5 stars
4/16/03 Shadaan Felfeli I enjoyed the film except the ending when melodrama retards this otherwise fast paced film. 4 stars
4/14/03 reptilesni I forgot that DiCaprio could act! Fun fluffy movie. 4 stars
3/23/03 Winthrop J Applesmythe III damn good flick. 5 stars
3/05/03 Eschenennock Manville Riveting story. Presence of much underrated Amy Adams an extra bonus. 5 stars
2/25/03 Aiken Drum Tripe. Plot holes, Hanks is wooden. DiCaprio injects some charm. 3 stars
2/25/03 Blabity blah Good solid movie. Good plot, solid acting. Entertaining. 4 stars
2/23/03 dave its great, so cool. 5 stars
2/19/03 tom comer it is good 1 stars
2/18/03 Mike B Hearing Hanks say "Go fuck yourself" is always worth the price of admission. 5 stars
2/16/03 Simon N I have a new idle 5 stars
2/14/03 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
2/04/03 Lord of the Flames Hank, Walken and mostly DiCaprio make this film a solid movie, good, not great 4 stars
2/03/03 Jake Wow, what a great film! 5 stars
2/02/03 Sophie Wallace Great Movie! DiCaprio at his best... Hanks is a natural on this movie & very Un-Spielberg!! 5 stars
2/02/03 Michael B. Unrealistic, concept old and already done better, Hanks' role weak, crappy end, too long 2 stars
2/02/03 Angie R Go see it. It's a fun ride 4 stars
2/02/03 LYNDON I like the story alot. I love it. 5 stars
2/01/03 Shaun loved it 5 stars
1/31/03 anglesey man Da iawn wir!! 4 stars
1/27/03 pipeman better than I thought it would be 4 stars
1/26/03 Edler Fortunately, it is not as cutsie as the ads implied. It was fairly serious and pretty good 4 stars
1/26/03 I Can't Swim Leo is back in a big way; movie is not ruined by Hanks, miracle of miracles 5 stars
1/20/03 .Choadushouse. Great development. Good humor and emotional value. Highly entertaining. Leo rules as always 5 stars
1/19/03 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
1/07/03 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
1/06/03 kisuts ok, but below par for hanks and Spielberg. DiCaprio has improved. 3 stars
1/06/03 Vicious DiCaprio proves his ability, and the story is very intruiging. 5 stars
1/06/03 cpbjr Very well done. 4 stars
1/06/03 Rebo Valence DiCaprio is really underrated. He was great, and I was only expecting to like Tom Hanks! 5 stars
1/06/03 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
1/02/03 Yo Mama! Very good movie.....fun, funny, enjoyable. Best knock-knock joke ever! 5 stars
1/02/03 Monday Morning Fun. No more, no less, just fun. But not worth $7. 4 stars
1/01/03 Bobadier Me knock knock, who's there, (pause) go fuck yourself 5 stars
12/31/02 bob one of the best I've seen in the last two years 4 stars
12/31/02 Jesse the Movie Ventura Good quality fun. Great acting. Not great but good. 4 stars
12/30/02 ownerofdajoint whataphenomanalmoviefromstarttofinsh 5 stars
12/30/02 Leon Trotsky It was hella fun, OK? Nothing wrong with that. 4 stars
12/29/02 Obi Wan Great Flick!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/29/02 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
12/28/02 Flick Chick entertaining 4 stars
12/26/02 davis field erik is NOT the best critic on the web. he's 2 busy suckin spielberg's cock! cheesy shite 1 stars
12/26/02 Mason Great!!!! 5 stars
12/26/02 jeff in montco "A good year," Terry M? Moron. Once more, Spielberg does it right 4 stars
12/25/02 Greg Edmiston You won't be disappointed. 5 stars
12/25/02 jefftucson Awesome film. Erik remains the best film critic on the web. 5 stars
12/25/02 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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