johnlink ranks CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (2002)

I try not to let these rankings get in the way of my normal movie selection. However, I am all too aware of a huge number of films that I have yet to rank. I’m trying to shrink that list while also experiencing as many films that are new to me as possible. This seems to be a year, so far, of mostly getting some previously seen films ranked. Of the nearly 30 movies I’ve watched this year, a good two-thirds are pieces I had watched before. This is all an unnecessarily long way of saying that last night’s watching decision was partly a desire to see a really good movie again, and partly born from a realization that CATCH ME IF YOU CAN had not yet appeared on these ranking pages. Thanks! I knew you’d care!

I watched CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (2002) on 2.25.12. It was my fourth viewing of the film.

I know that every year brings good and bad films. But it just boggles my mind that this was made the same year as the movie I most previously ranked, SWIMFAN. While SWIMFAN is already terribly dated and forgettable, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is timeless and supremely memorable. To watch some movies on a repeat viewing is to try and piece back together a foggy memory of what the movie was. Despite not seeing CATCH ME IF YOU CAN in over five years, and only a few times total, the viewing experience here is more akin to Thanksgiving dinner at home: You’ve had it all before, but there are some subtle things you may not have fully enjoyed before which really become your favorite contributions to the overall enjoyment of the meal.

This film is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., who spent his late teen years as a pilot, doctor, and lawyer despite never having any training in those areas. A self-taught conman (with some unintentional influence from his father), Frank learns that having the balls to do something will usually result in you getting what you want. It all spirals out of control as this kid begins to realize the consequences of what he has done. But the chase is fun. Oh, is it fun.

DiCaprio is certainly too old to be playing Abaganle. In fact, one thing that surprised me is being reminded at the film’s onset just how young the character is. Tom Hanks, playing FBI agent Carl Hanratty, may not have nailed the accent as much as you’d like. It becomes Hanks’ own thing, so I can’t call it bad. But if this were not ‘Tom Hanks’ playing the part, but some no-name guy, I’m sure there would have been much more criticism.

But Spielberg directs the heck out of this thing, giving us a nostalgic feel which he rarely has gone for in his career. Much of this is a love letter to late 60s culture. Abagnale lives the height of a free spirited life, even if he is too much caught in the weeds to always enjoy it. But the references to GOLDFINGER, the celebrity of pilots, and even the world’s inability to keep up with savvy criminals, they all hark back to a romanticized view of a previous era in our country.

The script is very smart, bouncing around from ‘present’ to past. Teasing something about a bar exam which gives a great pay off, letting us see the wear and tear Abagnale has endured in prison, allowing the past’s chase to be as much fun as possible. The dialogue is snappy and enjoyable. I only wish there was MORE. MORE chase, MORE crazy things Abagnale did. I can’t get enough of that stuff!

What was new for me this time? I fully appreciated just how young this kid was. It amazes me that he did all this before he was 20, and got away with so much of it. I noticed that the typewriter on his desk as a doctor is his check forging typer. I found Abagnale’s desperation by mid way through the second act landed with me much more this time. He really did realize just how unstoppable this train was. And, though this is not a surprise per se, I really loved watching Christopher Walken play. He’s just so, so good in this.

I recognize some imperfections within this film (surprisingly, much of it has to do with acting and character portrayal of minor characters), but they don’t take away from my enjoyment of it. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is the ultimate cat-and-mouse drama where we don’t really have a bad guy. We want both chaser and chasee to succeed. And ultimately, they both get to in there own way.





~ by johnlink00 on February 26, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (2002)”

  1. […] ARC, an old favorite CITY SLICKERS, vintage Cruise in A FEW GOOD MEN, a great cat-and-mouse story CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, the best of the series in HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, and an unexpectedly solid […]

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