Breezy Fun, and Surprisingly Touching
JLFM - wrote on 03/05/13
It's certainly been a while since I've seen a film so easy to like and purely entertaining as Catch Me If You Can. Fun and well paced, though not lacking in intelligence, Catch Me If You Can is ideal film. It doesn't reach the masterpiece status many proclaim it has, but it's a confident and enjoyable ride, that even boasts some surprising emotional depth.
Inspired by actual events, Catch Me If You Can follows the story of Frank Abagnale Jr., who runs away after his parent's divorce at the age of 16. Following in his dad's footsteps, Frank becomes a masterful conman, stealing millions of dollars. However, Carl Hanratty, an FBI agent, is hot on Frank's heels. As Frank continues to successfully evade the law, he also faces difficulties of his own, such as old wounds from his parent's divorce.
While not as fast paced as one might expect from such a film, Catch Me If You Can never feels long or boring, despite the lengthy run time; nearly two and a half hours. The film's consistent cleverness, and intriguing plot keeps the audience completely captivated for the entire duration.
The film works as a number of things. It makes for an excellent comedy. Frank Abagnale Jr. is fiendishly clever, and gets into some interesting (and humorous) situations by faking his identity. Catch Me If You Can also works as an action film, due to it's "chase" premise.
Perhaps most surprisingly, Catch Me If You Can also works as a drama. While providing breezy fun, this is also a surprisingly touching film. All of Frank's schemes and cons are done to make his father proud. For despite the devastating divorce, Frank really loves his dad, and this adds an emotional element of the film. Catch Me If You Can would've been a pleasant and enjoyable film without this element. But this extra layer makes Catch Me If You Can memorable, and helps separate it from the dozens of other similar films out there today.
Leonardo DiCaprio is excellent in the leading role as Frank Abagnale Jr. His love for his father, and his easy confidence makes him a surprisingly likable character. Tom Hanks as the persistent FBI Agent, Carl Hanratty is also well done (the amusing Brooklyn accent helps). In a role that's similar to DiCaprio's, Christopher Walken portrays Frank's loving father, who's also a bit of a conman himself. Walken's performance really boosts the emotional umph in this film, making his role the standout in the film.
John William's score is very playful, and is also delightfully jazzy. The child-like main theme and heavy use of the saxophone are memorable staples of the score. The music truly enhances the film, and makes up one of William's most underrated scores.
Catch Me If You Can isn't your average action flick. It's emotional depth and intelligence distinguishes it from others of it's kin, while it's cleverness and humor ensures that it's a fun ride for all. While there are brief moments of genius, Catch Me If You Can isn't a masterpiece, or even close. But it's extremely memorable, and well made, and a lot different than most films of the same nature.