“Catch Me If You Can” Blu-ray review by Blogcritics
Back when I was in graduate school, I worked on an undergraduate class on Steven Spielberg. Part of the professor’s general take dealt with all of Spielberg’s movies having to do with lost fathers and the main character going on a search to find said lost father (or being one himself). Whether or not that thesis is true in general I don’t care to guess. It is, however, certainly correct for Catch me if You Can.
Based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Abagnale, a teenage con artist, and Tom Hanks as Carl Hanratty, the FBI man out to catch him. Spielberg’s direction of Jeff Nathanson’s BAFTA-nominated screenplay keeps the proceedings light even in the film’s darkest moments, and the two leads are simply outstanding.
The film begins with Frank Jr. living a nice quiet life in Westchester County with his father, Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken), and mother, Paula (Nathalie Baye). It is, as Frank soon learns, all a lie. His father owes money to the government and Sr.’s relationship with Paula isn’t terribly good. Things proceed on this downhill trajectory until Frank Jr. runs away… and pretends to be a Pan Am pilot.
It is all, actually, relatively ingenious and Spielberg keeps things moving so there’s no worries about how things actually might play out in the real world (based on a true story obviously not equaling a true story). Frank’s lies compound until Hanratty and the FBI begin circling him and Frank finds he has no way out.
Save for an incredibly false moment of actual capture where Frank has gone manic for some unclear reason, it’s a comedic caper movie. The film is an episodic bit of cat and mouse where we get glimpses into Frank’s life and only the barest hint at how these things might actually come to pass in the real world.
But, enough working around the margins, Catch me if You Can succeeds not just because it’s lighthearted, but because there’s actual heart behind it. As good as Frank Jr. might be at faking being a pilot or a doctor or a lawyer, the underpinning is the tale of his wanting to please his father, wanting his father to be happy, and to reestablish their family. It is a wish that can never be, but Jr. is a teen and can’t come to grips with that.
Read full review here