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  Film Reviews: Yes, He Really Is That Charming: Catch Me If You Can  

Sunday, February 2
Yes, He Really Is That Charming: Catch Me If You Can
Catchmeif youcan
“Catch Me If You Can” has all those elements that you’re supposed to hate if you’re of the jaded, worldly type. It’s got Leonardo “Boat Boy” DiCaprio, Tom “I’m Too Good” Hanks and is directed by Steven “Could I Get Any Bigger” Spielberg. This is a movie based on the true story of the youngest con-man in the United States. It had hype, it had an all-star cast, it had style and it was 2 hours and 20 minutes. By all accounts, the sophisticated should have been denouncing this film as “dribble for the masses” by the end of the opening credits.

But there was a problem. You see, the movie was really, really good. This was no mix n’ match put-a-bunch-of-big-time-people together and know that the film will sell tickets anyway. No, this was one of those rare instances where the really big and the really talented get together and actually use their combined talents for good.

DiCaprio plays Frank Abignale Jr., the son of an American GI and small-town French girl living the picturesque life of the early 1960’s – Rotary Club meetings, post-WWII affluence and suburban bliss. As with anything seemingly perfect, we know that things are severely cracked underneath the surface. That crack comes when Frank Sr.’s money problems began to eat away at the family’s financial security. When he learns that his parents are about to divorce, young Frank Jr. runs away with a checkbook in hand.

In addition to the checkbook, Frank Jr. also possesses an amazing ability to charm people. He is able, with a few minor props, to convince people that he’s anything. This includes an airline pilot, a student report, a French teacher, a physician and a lawyer. He does this well, and harkens us back to a time before we thought to hire men like Abignale to teach companies how not to be taken for millions by men like Abignale.

The film calls itself “based on” the story of Frank Abignale Jr. What this means in movie speak is this – there was a Frank Abignale Jr. and he was a con artist, but we’ve taken so many events, characters and motives in the story as to make it only slightly recognizable by those that actually participated in the actual events. I must give Speilberg credit, as I’ve read the book and lesser directors could very well have called this a true story and left the audience with a brief “some characters and situations were compressed for time’s sake” blurb at the end of the film.

The real Frank Abignale, Jr. really was that good. The wheres and whys are slightly different, but Spielberg takes a long run from the law and makes some necessary changes to tighten the story and make some of Franks, uh, “motivations” seem a little bit more geared towards the PG-13 crowd (you see this and tell yourself that it wasn’t just a tad bit more about girls in real life).

Hanks is the FBI agent that works in the ultimate-geek squad of the FBI – check fraud. He’s seemingly alone and disregarded until Abignale comes along. Suddenly, he’s chasing the uncatchable and you find both cop and criminal relishing the chase. This is the trick of the entire film – you actually root for both the good guy and the bad guy at the same time. You want everyone to somehow win in what should be a winless game.

If you can’t tell by now, from the opening credits, to the acting, to the set design, to the costume design, to the craftiness of the whole thing, this movie is the way that you wish every half-baked lie you’d ever tried on your parents or classmates would have worked. Better yet, imagine Ferris Beuller using his talents for something more productive than singing “Twist and Shout” in a contrived parade.

The Usual:

What It’s Worth: This is a full-fare film. Get some popcorn, cherry coke and candy. You’ll be able to remember a time that all of that wasn’t bad for you.

Annoying Theater Goer: When you see this on a random Tuesday night, it turns out you’re one of 8 people seeing the film. Normal theater etiquette applies and you all have so much space between you that it is impossible to offend.

Main Reason To See This Film: Because it really is as fun as they imply in the trailers (and just how often do you get to say that?).

Main Reason Not To See This Film: You will become wistful for that time when airport security wasn’t, well, airport security.

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Nudity: No.

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