Los Angeles Times: REEL CRITICS


'Catch' this if you can; a sweet 'Two Weeks Notice'


Audience applauds 'Catch Me If You Can'

When I saw the previews for 'Catch Me If You Can', the advertisements in the paper and even the credits, I thought it was a comedy. It is not. It is drama, although it has some very funny parts.

'Catch Me If You Can' is a story set in the mid-1960s about 16-year-old Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), who was raised in a proper environment only to have it all fall apart. His father's (Christopher Walken) business is assaulted by the IRS and his mother (Nathalie Baye) is cheating on her husband, something that finally leads to divorce.

There is a scene where Frank is asked to pick between his parents, refuses to do so and runs away. It is at this point that Frank, needing the price of a train ticket, discovers what a small piece of paper called a check can do.

The FBI man pursuing Frank through the maze his life becomes is Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). In his single-minded pursuit, Carl has come close to dedicating his life to chasing down Frank.

Hanks is so proficient at portraying emotions that you feel exactly what he is feeling. At one point, he is in France to take Frank home and he doesn't know if he is being conned by Frank or if Frank really is sick. You go through it all with him. You do know that what he is showing you is utter frustration and not anger. In the FBI agent, you see a very simple man who must get his man.

There are some hilarious parts where spontaneous reaction is called for, and Frank comes through to the delight of the audience. Throughout this short time, Frank has been school teacher, a co-pilot, a lawyer, a doctor and a scam artist. One of his ploys to get out of an airport involves training stewardesses. This is a particularly funny segment.

Director Steven Spielberg also takes you down the dark side of life. Frank calls Carl on Christmas ostensibly to apologize for the airport fiasco, and Carl accuses him of having no one else to call.

That this is based on a true story is irrelevant. It is a good yarn told by the highest quality storytellers. I would include Spielberg, Hanks, Walken and DiCaprio in this category. I would say the film itself is neither Spielberg's nor Hank's best. It is an indicator of the sheer perfection of their craft.

This movie garnered that strange phenomenon at the end -- the audience applauded.

Thanks to Shaolin !