Catch Me If You Can! That’s what Frank Abagnale Jr. challenges Carl Hanratty to do. A real cat and mouse plot that will leave you wondering when this “con man” will be brought to justice. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Jeff Nathanson.
Catch Me If You Can which was made in 2002 and nominated for two Oscars is based on a true story about Frank Abagnale Jr. a con man turned consultant that struck massive amounts of attention as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a legal prosecutor. Although the key word in this conversation so far is “con” you can sprinkle a dose of doubt on all those “professions” Abagnale Jr. participated in.
The story is simple yet complex. Frank Abagnale Jr. played brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio is a 16 year old high school student with a father who has gotten himself into trouble with the IRS. These problems have led to the family downsizing into a smaller apartment as the government continues to probe Abagnale Jr’s father. Frank Sr. is certainly slick in his own right, teaching the ropes to being a con artist to his son early in the film. You immediately see the cause and effect between the father and son, as Abagnale Jr. has a wonderful scene posing as a substitute teacher in his new school. His confidence and swagger instantly shows the viewer this kid has some serious “con man” talent.
The father, son relationship is clear, they have fun together and Abagnale Jr. genuinely cares for his father and mother. Unfortunately times become rough and Frank’s mother leaves his father and things slowly start to disintegrate. Frank comes back to the downsized apartment one day and is forced to make a decision between who gets “custody” of him. This scene is fantastic and not only does he show that he loves his parents equally, it shows his nervousness vividly.
Frank eventually makes his decision but realizes that he has the potential to be a great con man. This is where the adventure really starts. We see Frank start to forge checks, become an airline pilot, a doctor, and a legal consultant all through the art of conning. Now certainly it’s a very detailed journey that you have to see to beleive, but one logical question does come to mind right? How can he possibly get away with this?
Well que FBI agent Carl Hannity into the picture. Hannity played by the incredibly talented Tom Hanks has one goal and one goal only, CATCH FRANK ABAGNALE JR. Well that’s easier said than done, as you will see throughout the film. A con man is slick, sly, and slippery, the minute you think you have him in your sights….. you really don’t. Frank eludes Hannity throughout the journey but the story from start to finish is fantastic. A unique mixture of wit, determination, and family compassion.
Catch Me If You Can will take you on a whirlwind journey, with an unlikely conclusion.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Frank Abagnale Jr. a protege of his father, and a brilliantly commanding con man. Leo takes you on a journey filled with forgery, lies, and crafty methods of fooling hundreds of people into believing he is a Renaissance man. What keeps Leo’s character grounded in the film is his father, those constant scenes bring him back to reality.
Tom Hanks plays “Carl Hanratty” a committed FBI agent. Hanratty at first glance comes off as a goofy, and somewhat boneheaded agent but quickly turns into a incredibly well thought out human being. Hanks role brings the comedic, loveable, and determined attributes to the screen. No matter how many times Hanratty is fooled, he is determined to not only find Frank but also utilize his skills in the future.
Christopher Walken plays “Frank Abagnale” the lovable father who is being probed by the IRS. Walken’s role is absolutely incredible, and the onscreen chemistry between him and Leo makes the father, son storyline all the more real. Walken was nominated for “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” at the 2003 Oscars for Catch Me If You Can.
These three roles certainly stand out the most throughout the film, but some other shout-outs that grace the screen are Amy Adams who plays the bubbly “Brenda Strong” Abagnale Jr’s love interest, and her father Roger Strong played by the legendary Martin Sheen. Nathalie Baye also deserves credit for her strong performance as Paula Abagnale the wife and mother of the “Franks.”
The movie is based on a true story, and Frank Abagnale Jr. is still alive and thriving as you will learn after watching the film!
A fun fact according to imdb.com. The real Frank W. Abagnale Jr does make a cameo towards the end of the film, can you spot him?
My 1-10 scale = 9
Frank Abagnale Sr.: You know why the Yankees always win, Frank?
Frank Abagnale, Jr.: ‘Cause they have Mickey Mantle?
Frank Abagnale Sr.: No, it’s ’cause the other teams can’t stop staring at those damn pinstripes.