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Film Review: Catch Me If You Can

Posted on by sam

Catch Me If You Can

Director: Stephen Spielberg (2002)

If I were Leonardo DiCaprio, and I wrote awesome yet somehow craptastic film reviews like this one currently being read by you on the Happy Fingers Productions website, I’d sign off with the following;

Punch Me


Written by Leonardo ‘Has that face your girlfriend thinks of during sex’ DiCaprio


Mainly that’s because if I were Leonardo DiCaprio, there’s no way I’d be able to hold my ego in check, unless of course I also had Leonardo’s ego, which, now that I think about it, if I were Leonardo DiCaprio, I would, so actually the whole concept has turned out to be quite redundant. Huh, guess if I were Leonardo DiCaprio I wouldn’t think such a crap beginning was remotely clever………..

Moving on…………..Leonardo’s looks are the only factor I can attribute to the sight of so many of my friends, who exist, shaking their heads and making revolted facial expressions like a tory MP at a multiculturalism celebration, whenever I recommend a film with him in it. It can’t be his acting; he’s been consistently good since his childhood playing a kid with learning difficulties alongside a grape, nor can it be his lifestyle seeing as how he’s never had a drug/drink/domestic abuse/Charlie Sheen/giving prostitutes a ride home then denying you fucked a spice girl moment, probably could have just shortened that sentence to a Charlie Sheen moment. Moving on, it aint his attitude either, Mr DiCaprio has reliably given a shit about things like the environment, computers, poverty and human rights (without clumsily advertising himself in the process ala mister Clooney), he doesn’t ‘Swank’ (If you get the reference you’ll see what I did there) it up at war criminal’s birthday parties, and gives a boatload of his money away to ‘good’ charities. Oh, and he did the best South African ‘Yah Yah’, that will ever be heard on screen. If only he weren’t so easy on the eyes, then he’d be so much more watchable in films.

Even when the guy recklessly gambles, the net result is the audience getting to see Kate Winslet’s tits without having to sit through a Nazi holocaust themed film. I’m not complaining, Winslet generally makes amazing films and the Nazi holocaust is an important historical event, it’s just mass genocide makes a difficult bedfellow with which to enjoy boobs, not like piano playing, concentration camps and piano goes surprisingly well. It has to be his looks, he just looks like that pretty guy you want to punch.

Moving on for the second time…….. I used to be exactly the same, with the exception of The Departed, I shied away from the name DiCaprio like a Lib Dem MP shying away from a pre-election pledge. The rumour Mr DiCaprio was going to be involved in remaking Oldboy, one of the greatest films ever made didn’t help matters, which reminds me; fuck you Spike Lee, fuck you Josh Brolin, fuck you Mandate Pictures and fuck you Lionsgate, leave Oldboy alone, leave it alone! Please for the love of none-existent god LEAVE OLDBOY ALONE!

Third time moving on……….My aversion to Mr DiCaprio started to change with Gangs of New York, a film that impressed upon me two things; just how cool Daniel Day-Lewis looks with a moustache and just how good DiCaprio’s acting is. Encouraged, I began to re-evaluate my view of the pretty boy from Romeo and Juliet, a re-evaluation which, apart from an unfortunate stop over at The Beach, has proved to be worthwhile.

And so, after a long winded introduction, a joke sign off and several tangents, we reach the subject of this film review, Catch Me If You Can, a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Plot summary commences………. Directed by this little known Spielberg bloke, it stars Mr DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale JR, a confidence trickster/con artist who forges checks and deceives his way into living the lifestyles of a pilot, lawyer, surgeon and others. Forging checks is wrong though, so in opposition we get Tom Hanks as FBI agent Carl Hanratty, a tough talking fraud investigator who, as is so often the case within the testosterone institution that is cinema’s interpretation of the FBI, ridiculed by his less intelligent colleagues for his by the book approach, and pride in his work. Somehow, Hanratty manages to ignore the jibes from his colleagues, repeatedly not being taken seriously by his superiors and being continually outwitted by Abagnale to retain his determination to catch his man. Along the way, Abagnale’s past is explored and we get to meet a host of people that Abagnale grew up with, lies to, loves, or lies to while loving. Plot summary finishes.

Catch Me If You Can has one of those ‘based on a true story’ gimmicks going for it, where they’ve taken a book someone’s written (in this case Frank Abagnale), used a real name or two, then changed everything else in order to tell a Hollywood story, so if you’ve read the actual book, then fair play to you, I got half-way through and almost died from boredom induced rigor mortis, but also, don’t expect to actually find much of it here. At least don’t expect to find much of the first half of the book, the second half might have been closer to the source material, I’m doubtful but I wouldn’t know, I was too busy getting my muscle function back.

Happily, the film is nowhere near as, death by lack of stimulus, inducing. The acting is really rather good and I’m amazed at just how quickly DiCaprio can switch from a cheeky upbeat character into one of pathos with the weight of the world on his shoulders. The guy has massive range and he shows a lot of it here, likewise, Tom Hank’s makes for a charming and enjoyable foil. The two complement each other well, which  allows for a number of enjoyable scenes between them, one particular scene involving a meeting in a hotel room still has me laughing. There’s a pretty good support cast too, Christopher Walken, Michael ‘apple and tree reference’ Sheen, Amy Adams, James ‘stop my son doing Oldboy’ Brolin and for connoisseurs of French cinema, a nice turn by Nathalie Baye as Frank Jr’s mother.  There’s also has a score composed by some guy named John William’s, he did a pretty decent job of it, may even have a future in the business.

‘So is Catch Me If You Can worth watching’, I rhetorically ask in order to manoeuvre myself into position to write this paragraph. Yes, is the short version of my answer, yes Catch Me If You Can is worth your time, it’s well made and well-acted, with enough time spent on character development/logical plotting to be taken seriously. The flipside to that though, is, well, it’s just a bit of a boring story. I think it’s because even at the best of times, fraud is a fairly difficult crime to take seriously enough to invest emotion in. Unless of course it’s a global exercise by greedy bankers, or a labour prime minister lying in order to take the UK and Northern Ireland into an illegal, morally bankrupt war, and fraud certainly doesn’t make for the most interesting of film plots. Sure a few checks got cashed, but it’s not exactly the end of the world, and Abagnale is so young that even a lengthy jail sentence doesn’t seem like the end of his life.  The jeopardy just isn’t quite there, they do try and make up for this with plenty of gratuitous sex, but it just doesn’t hit the dramatic mark.

It’s a shame, because if the real Frank Abagnale had sold uranium to terrorists or maybe dealt with a previous experience in which he assassinated a group of young orphans, then this could be a truly deep film, instead, the only victim is the American government, and even they didn’t seem to fussed about catching the guy, least not until he went to Europe, no one likes anyone in Europe.

To surmise then, Catch Me If You Can is one of those films you should watch on netflix, or borrow from your friends DVD collection when you’re in the mood for something simple and fun. Oh and also you’ve decided you can stand the thought of watching Leonardo DiCaprio in a film where he isn’t emotionally disturbed, oh and there isn’t the lure of Kate Winslet’s tits.

Written by Sam ‘Has that face your boyfriend thinks of to stop himself climaxing’ McKinstrie

Unnecessarily on twitter as McKinstHFP

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