Catch Me If You Can (1989) Poster

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Rev up! (spoilers)
vertigo_142 January 2005
If you can get past some of that good old fashioned 80s cheesiness (and there's plenty of it, thanks to a 'PG' rating), then you're left with what actually wasn't a bad drama. It is more like an 80s version of some of those old rebel teen speedway junkies movies complete with leather jackets and fast cars that you see in the 50s. You know, 'Rebel Without a Cause,' and all of that.

In this movie, a rather pristine high school girl tries to raise $200,000 to save her school, Cathedral High, from being shut down by the county because of lack of funds. If they get the cash, the school board will match them for the rest. Enter Dylan, a bad ass with a bad haircut who is going to help save the day. In place of detention, he is sentenced to help out with the 'fund-drive' (fundraiser for us modern Yankee blokes). Knowing that without the help of the rest of the student body, the girl isn't going to make that kind of cash from selling prom tickets or hosting bake sales. So, he convinces her to do what anyone in her situation should do: bet it all on him in a drag race. And though reluctant at first, it doesn't take but one win to get her hyped on gambling.

Only, when the duo manages to make $100,000 in a bet for double or nothing, Dylan loses the race and, consequently all of the money. Now, desperate to make it all back in a pretty serious bet with a somewhat harmless bookie called The Fat Man (Emmett Walsh), he has to try to win it all back. You should know how the story goes and what to expect. But, if you like fast cherry cars, then it's a good one to catch. I might think it better than it actually is since I saw it after immediately after watching two lame movies (The Allnighter and Ski School). So, what have you got to lose besides a hundred and six minutes (if you watch all the credits)?
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Dated and Terrible
Tiger_Mark9 March 2004
Wow! I remember so many awful films that loosely revolved around high school from the early 1980s. They usually had someincredibly strained plot and lots of 27 year old actors pretending to be students. As I watched this film I felt a little of the nostalgia of growing up in the 1980s. However, then I find out that this film was made in 1989? Say what! Well, the nostalgia factor ends right there, this is just bad. The plot has the city preparing to close a high school and threatening to bus all of the students to inner city high schools. Which is odd, in that the students at this school are both wealthy and abundant. In fact, the main character lives in a mansion. Makes you wonder how they cannot find money to keep this school alive, have they never heard of property taxes. Oh, but here is the kicker. The school board says that they will keep the school alive, if the students can raise $200,000. So the seniors go about doing this. Hmmm, you raise $200,000 but instead of saving that for college, you put it towards saving the high school that you are a Senior in? And why exactly would they close an overpopulated school before the year is out? And...ahh forget it, this film was stupid and made in 1989!?
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Not bad at all early Sommers effort
bannonanthony9 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I had wanted to see this film for years after seeing a video trailer for it. Now I have finally seen it. Yes, it is undeniably cheesy in parts, but I accept that fact and watch it for the fun. And this movie is nothing short of great. The plot is slim, but it works. The drag race scenes are all done brilliantly, set to a perfect synth score by the wonderful Tangerine Dream and the two main performances by Matt Lattanzi and Loryn Locklin as the reluctant lovers are very good. It's been a while since I've seen Locklin's later movie 'Fortress' so I had forgotten just how attractive she was. Her character, Melissa, starts out as a typical concerned high school kid, but blossoms into a hot mama by the end of the picture. This is the only thing I've seen Lattanzi in, but he handles the hero role very well.

Veteran performers Geoffrey Lewis and M. Emmet Walsh are great as the kindly school principal and the evil loan shark respectively, and the rest of the villains, such as the sneering Dirk and Manney and evil racing driver the Widowmaker are all very colourful characters. It surprised me that Stephen Sommers, later known for the first two 'Mummy' films and 'Van Helsing' would start his career with this kind of film. We all have to start somewhere I guess, and 'Catch Me If You Can' was a good place to start for him, especially as he never even had to leave his hometown to film it.

The high school kids seem like a bunch of jerks, but at least they later on admit they were and decide to actually do something about the impending school closure that Melissa and Principal Johnson are trying to prevent.

Like another favourite film of mine, Charlie Sheen flick 'The Wraith', parents seem to be non-existent in this town. But the authority figure role is filled excellently by Lewis as Mr. Johnson. It is he who turns out to have been a high-school hero back in the 50s who steps in to help when all hope seems lost.

The main attraction for me was the cars, of course. The star car role is filled by two vehicles: a lovely black '68 Chevelle driven by Lattanzi for most of the movie, and 'Fast Freddie' Johnson's '57 Chevy, which is brought out of retirement for the final race against the clock after the Chevelle is laid low by Walsh's thugs. There's also a wonderful quotient of American muscle cars present throughout. I also like in the movie how some depth is injected into the character of Dylan Malone, Lattanzi's character. He at first seems like your typical anti-authority James Dean type. It is, however, revealed that he drag races to try and earn himself college tuition money to get out of his currently dead end life. This makes the final battle against Walsh more poignant, as Malone basically agrees to become a slave to Walsh if he loses the final race.

All in all, the film is by no means ever going to win any awards. But if you just want a great, fun, popcorn movie, this is one of the best of them. Please Stephen Sommers, dust this one off and give it a DVD release!
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Nothing but a fun movie
steeleronaldr24 February 2020
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was intended to be a fun movie and achieved that goal. The acting was poor, the plot was at most dumb and the only thing this movie had going for it was the car's. It's nothing but a fun movie and really doesn't try it's best to be nothing more. A high school boy drags to win money to pay for college and gets conned by a race which he loses. Then a big race to win money to help keep the high school opened. Again not the best but totally watchable.
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Skip It If You Can.
xavrush895 December 2003
This film has been receiving a lot of play lately during the day on either HBO or Cinemax. The reason is that they are assuming people would be interested in comparing it to the Leonardo DiCaprio/Tom Hanks caper of the same name. The only reason to see it is for the attractive Matt Lattanzi. Yum! Although I must say Matt was more than a little long in the tooth to be playing a high schooler. If he were a woman, they'd have had him playing the MOTHER of a high schooler! (Is is just me, or is his daughter starting to look like Shelley Duvall?) Oh yeah, the plot--who cares? Typical teen highjinx played by adults.
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Drag Racer, High School, and the Gambing Syndicate
H5O20 January 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Unlike Fresh (1994), where a young, 12 year old African American male pushes drugs in the Brooklyn community, this film has another reference to the innovator, a typology coined by sociologist Robert Merton, where an individual would like to have a share of culturally defined goals, but reject the legitimate means to achieve success. In this film, the local high school is on the verge of being closed, and the student council president (Loryn Locklin) and the principal (Geoffrey Lewis) must come up with $200,000 to save the school from its demise. When Matt Lattanzi steps in, this is where the plot twist occurs.

The Malone character engages in illegitimate sub rosa activity, by illegal street racing for money, and when all legitimate efforts fail during the fundraiser, the last resort is illegal street racing, when $3000 of the fundrainser money is betted on a street race. Unknowingly to the high school students, they are dealing with the gambling syndicate, and the loan sharks that run the illegal street racing. Lots of classic cars in this film, which includes a 1968 Chevelle and a 1957 Chevrolet, and watch for the ultimate plot twist where the principal used to be a legendary drag racer! Why does he hide his car on the schoolgrounds? Because his home used to be located there.
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First Big-Screen Effort by Stephen Sommers
Demon-1414 May 1999
A funky little film that was the first effort by "Mummy" director Stephen Sommers. Cliched, unbelievable plot is played in a light-hearted manner by leads Matt Lattanzi (My Tutor) and Loryn Locklin. Co-star Grant Heslov later had a major role in "Congo", while veteran character actors M. Emmett Walsh and Geoffrey Lewis are recognizable from various roles in other films. Somewhat of an ode to director Sommers' hometown of St. Cloud, MN, the film's plot involves high-school kids trying to raise money for their school through illegal road races. Yeah, right. The film is helped by a great soundtrack of 50's & 60's teenybopper staples, and by the fact that none of the major players take themselves too seriously. Trivia alert: Matt Lattanzi is the ex-husband of Australian songstress Olivia Newton-John. Oh, and by the way, being that this was filmed in St. Cloud, yours truly has a "blink and you'll miss it" cameo in one of the football scenes' crowd shots. (As if anybody CARES, I'm wearing a red winter jacket and ski mask.)
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Good Car Fun
royiscool8612 June 2007
Catch Me...if You Can's story doesn't make a lot of sense, the class president of a high school gets the local race king to race to save the school that's going to close down. But they loose all the money and get into a timed race across town like a local legend "Fast Freddie" did back in the day. Yeah. But the movie has a fun, goofy tone and is sort of a send up of 50's Hot Rod pictures, like "The Wild Ride," none of the young actors are particularly good, and everything about them screams the 80's but Geoffrey Lewis is always fun to watch, not to mention M. Emmet Walsh. It's directed by Stephen Summers of "The Mummy" and "Van Helsing" fame, which is interesting since pretty much all of his films hark back to a different old genre, "The Mummy" was classic movie serials and horror, "Van Helsing" was Hammer films, and Catch Me if You Can did Hot Rod flicks. But The Cars are the stars, the main guy drives a sweet '68 Chevelle takes the main role for much of the racing scenes, as it faces a beautiful orange and white '69 Camaro, a '68 Shelby Mustang, '71 Dart Sport, a Grand Prix SJ, and a pretty goofy '79 Camaro with a big spider graphic on the hood, and after the dastardly M. Emmet Walsh destroys the motor in his Chevelle, Geoffrey Lewis turns out to be "Fast Freddie" and he lets him borrow his amazing '57 Chevy that was buried under the football field to run the race. Can you guess what happens? Not going to win any awards, but it's a good example of some automotive thrills.
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Some Great Cars!!!!!!!
batman10275021 January 2003
Not Bad Really, a lot of great Hot Rods and some fast Drag Racing as well. The Sound Track was good and the drag racing was excellent. I liked the way they brought back Fast Eddie from hiding from under the High School Football Field from years ago and dispelled the myth.
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One of the greatest car movies of its time
dhcjh21 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Its a great lil town vs big city flick. If one present day racer that is as fast as the fastest man ever from twin cities fast Freddy who is present day principal of said young man. After better the fat man he could do the twin city race in 20 mins he falls for the president of the class and you'll just have to watch it!! Killer car movie.
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Cult Classic
leemybay27 July 2007
The plot of this film is not strong at all, lots of holes. If you approach it as a car movie its not bad, lots of great cars in this one. The reason I like it is because I am from the area where this was filmed. I get the most enjoyment looking at the recognizable places in St. Cloud MN and seeing how the town has changed since 89. Its an interesting historical piece for us locals. Seems like whenever a film is made here everyone wants some relationship to it. It is impossible to find a copy in any of the local video stores as they were all stolen once it came out on VHS. Had to get a copy from Japan on Ebay I find it interesting how the path of the drag race is all over town. I didn't know the director was from St.Cloud.
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Catch It For What It's Worth
TreyRyan329 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Your typical 1980's High School comedy starring a 30 year old actor and a 21 year old actress playing a mismatched pair of high school students. Dylan, your stereotypical Lone-wolf rebel "Bad Boy" and Melissa, the prissy, Class President "Good Girl" must work together to save their school.

Dylan convinces Melissa to fund his underground street race endeavors in exchange for a profit sharing plan. In typical character arc, Dylan has secret plans for his future which will remain unknown to Melissa until the crucial moment that will inevitably throw them together.

Everything goes according to plan with constant success seen in musical montage of car races coupled with a growing attraction between the pair. As the pressure mounts from their impending deadline, Dylan grows more cautious as Melissa pushes in greater risk taking. Against Dylan's advice, Melissa wagers all their winnings in a winner take all race, which of course they lose.

Melissa takes the blame in front of the school, but of course Dylan can't just standby and see her throw her life away. Dylan makes a final attempt to redeem himself and save Melissa by wagering his virtual enslavement in a "Winner Take All" race, and this time, the indifferent student body finally comes together to insure their success.

Coupled with a fantastic score by Tangerine Dream, peppered with great Character Actors, a "Retro-50's Dance", the Straight-Arrow Principal who has been hiding his secret "Rebel Teen" identity for years and the 80's kitsch feel good ending.

Latanzi does a fair job in the "Bad Boy with secret dreams" and Locklin fills the role of the "pretty girl next door hidden under the prissy exterior".

Does the movie deserve accolades? Not really. But as a somewhat cheesy, rainy day movie, it is well worth the time, and far more entertaining than most of the other garbage that came out during the same time period.
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