Catch Me If You Can
December 25, 2002
Catch Me If You Can rivals Confessions of a Dangerous Mind for the title of most intriguing premise of the second-half schedule. This would be reason enough to be interested in the production, but it also has some other things going for it. Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio star in this film which Steven Spielberg directs.
The wonderful premise of this story is the true life adventure of con-man extraordinaire Frank Abagnale, Jr. He was a shyster of epic proportions who, at the tender age of 16, ran away from home and somehow managed to pass himself as a pilot for Pan-Am. This allowed him to travel the world to the tune of two million miles logged without even paying for a plane ticket. As he went from town to town, he wasn't satisfied to be just an underage pilot, so he pretended to be several other professions as well, such as a professor, a doctor and, amazingly, the assistant attorney general of Louisiana.
During this period of travel, Abagnale, Jr. would intentionally write bad checks in order to pocket spending money for his journey. By the time he was finally captured, the total amount of rubber checks written was assessed in the millions. Even more impressively, he had bounced a check in all 50 states, plus 26 countries. And he did all this before his 21st birthday.
In later years, he has become a successful speaker on the tour circuit, due to his talent for explaining the criminal mind and the effectiveness of various methods of fraud prevention. He has made an amazing second career for himself using the lessons learned from his days as a crook on the run.
Clearly, the life story of Mr. Abagnale will make for a fascinating tale, but the talent involved makes the film even more tantalizing. Leonardo DiCaprio will portray the talented felon, and Hanks will play the role of Joe Shaye, the dedicated FBI agent who finally brought Frank to justice. This role is a fascinating complement to his summer effort in Road To Perdition, a film that sees him cast as a hit-man nicknamed The Angel of Death. The role of Shaye will be much more similar in tone to Hanks's effort as Paul Edgecomb in The Green Mile. This is, of course, his second time working with Spielberg, following in the footsteps of their incredible team effort on Saving Private Ryan.
Spielberg will be switching off from his recent sci-fi slant with the Kubrick-ian AI and the Phillip K. Dick-ian Minority Report. With Catch Me If You Can, the greatest director of the current generation will be making a film that is unlike any he has done in the last three decades. In stark contrast to the morality plays, tender family stories and whip-ass action flicks he has made quite a career out of doing, Spielberg is now directing what may only be described as a straightforward crime drama. It's strange to think in such a manner, but the reality is that a man who has directed dozens of movies has never done one of the most basic genres in cinema. Of course, that is grossly reducing the content of Catch Me If You Can, but I still find the realization quite interesting.
Other notables in the film include rising TV actress Jennifer Garner, West Wing's imaginary president Martin Sheen, and the always-fascinating Christopher Walken in the key role of Frank Abagnale, Sr.
With regards to the box office potential of the movie, you don't need a doctorate (or to con someone into thinking you have a doctorate) to see that a Hanks/DiCaprio/Spielberg film is going to be huge. The only question is how huge and, in this instance, there's the added intrigue of end-of-the-year awards consideration. This is the story we will track for the bulk of 2002. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Comparison films for Catch Me If You Can
|Lost World, The
|Toy Story 2
|Saving Private Ryan
|A.I. Artificial Intelligence
|Road to Perdition
|You've Got Mail
|Green Mile, The