Tuesday, January 18, 2011
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
(December 2002, U.S.)
Coincidences are a funny thing, aren't they? Two Tom Hanks' films in a row, I mean (wow). It's also nice to be returning to a Steven Spielberg film; the first one since AMISTAD (1997). I feel like I've gone through Spielberg withdrawel lately (it happens!).
Spielberg himself has said in interviews that he doesn't consider himself a funny person. Perhaps he's not. I mean, I don't exactly laugh at the guy every time I see him on TV. Despite his best effort with 1941 (1979), CATCH ME IF YOU CAN actually proves to be the funnist film he's ever made. Some may argue that THE TERMINAL (2004) would justify that status, but I consider that to be one of Spielberg's few and far between film duds. In fact, I'll go even one step further to say that this film is not only funny, but is also one of the best "success stories" I've ever seen. I say "success" because as you watch young Frank Abagnale Jr. (played wonderfully by Leo DeCaprio) begin his crafty con jobs at the tender age of 16 and progress both in his crimes and his lifestyle, you can't help but cheer him on and feel a large degree of happiness when you see how his life turned out in the end.
You've heard the expression (paraphrashing), "It's so unbelievable, it has to be true.", right? This is just all TOO unbelievable. Imagine a kid who manages to deceive all those around him into thinking he's a high school substitute teacher, an airline pilot for Pan American World Airways, a secret service man, a Georgia doctor and a Louisiana prosecutor. Imagine a kid with the underhanded skills and technicques to be able to create and forge checks all over the world. Imagine a kid who can con a high-priced hotel hooker into giving HIM cash (that's my favorite one!). Finally, imagine a kid who becomes so skillful that the FBI eventually turns to him for help in catching other check forgers. Imagine all of this before he reaches his 19th birthday! Only in America, my friends!
Like some other Spielberg film projects, the themes of a broken home and a troubled childhood are heavily present here (Spielberg's parents divorced when he was a teenager, similar to Frank Abagnale's situation). More than anything else, as I mentioned before, Spielberg creates a film that sympathizes with a con-artist and a crook. Abagnale is a 21st Century genius working within the innocence of the mid 1960s, when people were a lot more trusting than they are today. In terms of casting, Tom Hanks as relentlless FBI agent Carl Hanratty is about as dry and lifeless as DRAGNET's Captain Joe Friday. But that's the whole point of his character and Hanks pulls it off perfectly. Christopher Walken as Frank's father is more-or-less exactly what you'd expect just about ANY Christopher Walken character to be; quirky and just a little bizarre
Favorite line or dialogue:
Agent Amdursky: "Mind if I ask you a question, Agent Hanratty? How come you're so serious all the time?"
Carl Hanratty: "Does it bother your, Mr. Amdursky?"
Amdursky: "Yeah. Yeah, it does bother me."
Hanratty: "Does it bother you, Mr. Fox?"
Agent Fox: "A little, I guess."
hanratty: "Well, would you like to hear me tell a joke?"
Amdursky: "Yeah. Yeah, we'd love to hear a joke from you."
Hanratty: "Knock knock."
Amdursky: "Who's there?"
Hanratty: "Go fuck yourselves."