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Catch Me If You Can (2002)

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A seasoned FBI agent pursues Frank Abagnale Jr. who, before his 19th birthday, successfully forged millions of dollars' worth of checks while posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a legal prosecutor.

Director:

Steven Spielberg

Writers:

Jeff Nathanson (screenplay), Frank Abagnale Jr. (book) (as Frank W. Abagnale) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
645 ( 85)
Top Rated Movies #214 | Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 44 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leonardo DiCaprio ... Frank Abagnale Jr.
Tom Hanks ... Carl Hanratty
Christopher Walken ... Frank Abagnale
Martin Sheen ... Roger Strong
Nathalie Baye ... Paula Abagnale
Amy Adams ... Brenda Strong
James Brolin ... Jack Barnes
Brian Howe ... Earl Amdursky
Frank John Hughes ... Tom Fox
Steve Eastin ... Paul Morgan
Chris Ellis ... Special Agent Witkins
John Finn ... Assistant Director Marsh
Jennifer Garner ... Cheryl Ann
Nancy Lenehan ... Carol Strong
Ellen Pompeo ... Marci
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Storyline

New Rochelle, the 1960s. High schooler Frank Abagnale Jr. idolizes his father, who's in trouble with the IRS. When his parents separate, Frank runs away to Manhattan with $25 in his checking account, vowing to regain dad's losses and get his parents back together. Just a few years later, the FBI tracks him down in France; he's extradited, tried, and jailed for passing more than $4,000,000 in bad checks. Along the way, he's posed as a Pan Am pilot, a pediatrician, and an attorney. And, from nearly the beginning of this life of crime, he's been pursued by a dour FBI agent, Carl Hanratty. What starts as cat and mouse becomes something akin to father and son. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Die wahre Story einer genialen Täschung. (The true story of an ingenious deception.) See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA | Canada

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

25 December 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Atrápame si puedes See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$52,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$30,082,000, 29 December 2002, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$164,615,351

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$352,114,312
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Comparing Frank Abagnale's autobiography to the movie, the events related about Brenda Strong appear to make her a composite of three women, a nurse and two flight attendants. Of course, it being Frank Abagnale, who knows what should be believed. See more »

Goofs

When Frank impersonates the substitute French teacher in order to take revenge on the bullies who bumped into him in the hallway, he shouts for order in the classroom then asks which chapter the previous teacher left off on. Frank Jr then opens his book up to the correct page, and after embarrassing one of the bullies by making him read out loud, he begins to walk to the front of the room. When he is in the aisle in the classroom, he holds the book open as he walks. After the shot changes angle and distance, he completes his walk to the front of the room, but the book is now closed. See more »

Quotes

Carl Hanratty: Well, would you like to hear me tell a joke?
Earl Amdursky: Yeah. Yeah, we'd love to hear a joke from you.
Carl Hanratty: Knock knock.
Earl Amdursky: Who's there?
Carl Hanratty: Go fuck yourselves.
See more »

Crazy Credits

For Bruce Paltrow See more »

Alternate Versions

In the French language version of the film, Frank teaches his high school Spanish class instead of French. See more »


Soundtracks

The Way You Look Tonight
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Performed by The Lettermen
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI Film and Television Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Going Places
17 March 2006 | by slokesSee all my reviews

Steven Spielberg has what you might call D.W. Griffith disease. If he can't make a monumental film, he makes an insignificant one. I thought that, anyway, until a second viewing of "Catch Me If You Can" convinced me I was wrong. Like many great artists, Spielberg doesn't have to swing for the fences to make an indelible impression every time out.

Indelible impressions are the sort of thing Frank Abagnale Jr. is good at, especially on the kind of phony checks that fool bank security. After his parents' divorce, Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) sets off in the Big Apple, making his way as an airline pilot, a doctor, and an assistant district attorney, all by means of fraudulent credentials and irresistible charm, not to mention the ability to stay one step ahead of the law, as represented by FBI Special Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks).

A film that owes a debt to Alfred Hitchcock by way of Henry Mancini, "Catch Me If You Can" zips along on its own kind of sneaky charm, making us root for a character who would probably steal our life savings if given half a chance. At the same time, Spielberg avoids the pitfall of relativism by making sure Hanks as Hanratty keeps some amount of our rooting interest, however much we feel for this crazy kid with his naive belief that, like the mouse stuck in a bucket of cream, he can churn his bucket into butter and crawl out. It's a trick every bit worthy of the subject of this engaging tale.

From the opening moments of this film, featuring the best-ever Spielberg titles sequence (courtesy of Kuntzel-Deggas) and a very unusual but entrancing John Williams score that uses shushing sounds and finger snaps in place of his normal bombast, we realize we are in unusual territory for a Spielberg film. Right away, the theme of mistaken identity is introduced courtesy of a "To Tell The Truth" clip with host Joe Garagiola giving us three Frank Abagnales to choose from. We think we know which one he is, but we don't know as much as we think.

"You know why the Yankees always win?" asks Frank's father, Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken). "It's because the other team can't stop staring at those damn pinstripes." Walken, like Spielberg, works against audience expectations. Sure, he's a criminal, much what we expect from Walken, but he's got a good heart and a beguiling innocence. He believes in the American dream, even if he cons innocent ladies with phony jewelry to get what he wants. Ultimately he's a victim, and a lesson to his son about why the straight and narrow isn't the way to go.

DeCaprio gives a solid, impressive performance, the best I've seen from him, playing a consummate conman who succeeds because he believes his cons as much as his victims. He finds the drama in his character, but also the comedy, in a film that shows Spielberg can be funny even when he involves us in a dramatic story. As we watch him fake his way aboard a cockpit, in an operating room, and even in a bedroom with an expensive callgirl played by Jennifer Garner, we shake our heads at what he gets away with but smile because he's succeeding.

The film also benefits from an immersive sense of the period in which it is set. Williams' score, along with the costumes and set design, present us with a view of the 1960s in its more sophisticated adult form, with Dusty Springfield and Frank Sinatra providing the music rather than the pop and rock acts we think of when we think of the time.

Does "Catch Me If You Can" go on longer than it should? Yes, I think tougher editing would have made it better. But I don't miss the mawkish attempts at uplift that pock Spielberg's lesser work, and the few poignant moments Spielberg throws in amid Abagnale's ruses ring true, especially a moment involving Frank and a little girl at a window near the end of the film that only Spielberg would try to get away with, because he can and does.

No, this is not a great film, just a very good one that might have slipped past a few people on its first release, as it did me. But give "Catch Me If You Can" a chance, and you may find this as a con you not only enjoy being taken by, but wish to experience again just to see how the masters, Abagnale and Spielberg, make their plays.


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