Steven Spielberg’s big, serious movies get all the attention and acclaim, but truth be told, they’re not his finest films. Spielberg is at his best when he focuses on entertaining his audience.
Steven Spielberg’s big, serious movies get all the attention and acclaim. He won his first Oscar for “Schindler’s List” and his second for “Saving Private Ryan,” but truth be told, they’re not his finest films. Spielberg is at his best when he focuses on entertaining his audience, rather than telling The Big Human Story. And for that reason, I’d say 2002’s “Catch Me If You Can” is one of his best movies.
Telling the strange-but-true tale of impostor extraordinaire Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), “Catch Me If You Can” strikes the right note from the first frame’s retro-style opening credits and zings and zips straight through to the end. It’s a lot of fun watching Abagnale outwit hapless FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) at every turn, but it’s also satisfying when, at the end, Abagnale realizes that, after years of being a fake, he doesn’t really know who he is.
DiCaprio and Hanks have a real cat-and-mouse energy, but they’re also strong enough actors to convey the underlying gravity of the situation.
Besides those two superstars, “Catch Me” has an unusually strong cast. Christopher Walken gives one of his most nuanced performances as Frank’s father, and Amy Adams has one of her earliest roles as a nurse Frank sort of falls in love with when he’s pretending to be a doctor.
“Catch Me If You Can” is an almost perfect blend of comedy and drama, with pitch-perfect period detail as a bonus.
Will Pfeifer writes about new DVDs on Tuesdays and older ones on Fridays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-987-1244. Read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/movie man/.