CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Add To My Top 10

Content -2
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Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: December 25, 2002

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Nathalie Baye, Amy Adams, and James Brolin

Genre: Comic Thriller

Audience: Teenagers and adults REVIEWER:
Dr. Ted Baehr CATCH ME IF YOU
CAN is a well-made,
entertaining movie with one of
those warm fuzzy endings that
usually appeals to audiences.
In a way, it is reminiscent of
LES MISERABLES with a twist.
The FBI/law enforcement
character in this movie proves
to have a kind heart, as
opposed to the ruthless
Gendarme Javert in LES
MISERABLES who represented the
law without grace. Underneath
the entertaining veneer,
however, is a 1960s adolescent
sensibility that condones sex
and illegal activities. Thus,
it is not the movie parents
should show to impressionable
adolescents, who are among its
target audience. CATCH ME IF
YOU CAN is based on a true
story about a criminal forger,
con man and impersonator. In
recent articles, the real
Frank Abagnale, Jr. has said
that he has no financial stake
in the movie and that the
movie does not represent his
complete repentance and total
abhorrence of his adolescent
activities. In fact, according
to the Los Angeles Times
(12/06/02), "before he saw a
cut of the film, he was so
worried studio promotion would
glorify his crimes James
Bond-style that he disavowed
young Frank on his business
Web site. ('I consider my past
immoral, unethical and
illegal. It is something I am
not proud of.')" He says he is
now dedicated to teaching
moral principles and repulsed
by his immoral behavior during
his adolescent years. The
movie opens giving away part
of its ending, with FBI agent
Carl Hanratty, played by Tom
Hanks in a superb dramatic
performance, traveling to
France to extradite Abagnale
back to the United States.
Frank is in prison in
Marseilles in 1969 for forging
checks. When Carl visits Frank
in the prison, Frank is so
sick that he collapses. Carl
calls for a doctor, and, while
Carl is talking to the French
police, Frank starts to
escape. Flashback to New
Rochelle, New York in 1963.
Frank's father, also named
Frank, is receiving an award
from the Rotary Club.
Christopher Walken, in one of
his best roles as Frank's
father, tells a very stupid
story in receiving his award,
and young Frank jumps to his
feet and wildly applauds.
Clearly, Frank loves his
father. When they get home,
his father reminds him that he
met Frank's mother in France,
that every eye in the platoon
was on her that night in the
small bistro in Montrichard,
France, but he was the one who
won the heart of this French
beauty. This pleasant family
life quickly comes to an end,
however. Frank, Sr. is under
investigation for tax evasion.
The family's assets are
seized, and they have to move
into a small apartment. Frank
is ribbed when he transfers
from an elite private school
to public school. To get back
at the student who belittles
him, Frank pretends to be a
substitute French teacher and
carries it off for a whole
week, showing that he has
talent in assuming other
identities. One day Frank
comes home to find his mother
leaving her bedroom with the
head of the Rotary Club. Next,
he comes home to find his
parents in the midst of
divorce proceedings. The
lawyer tells him to choose
which parent he wants to live
with. Instead, he runs
away. Frank's father had just
given him a checkbook for his
16th birthday, so he starts
bouncing checks at flophouses
in New York. With his good
looks and brilliant mind,
Frank seduces the prettiest
bank tellers and finds out the
information he needs to start
forging checks. Soon, he finds
out that airline checks are
the easiest to pass.
Therefore, he pretends to be a
student reporter and
interviews the manager of Pan
Am Airlines. Then, he calls up
Pan Am and gets himself a
uniform and starts forging and
passing Pan Am checks. At the
same time, he has another girl
every night and attracts the
most beautiful women with his
good looks and suave
uniforms. Before long, FBI
agent Carl Hanratty is on his
tail, but Frank is a brilliant
paperhanger, as Carl calls
him, always staying a few
steps ahead of the law. When
Carl does catch him one day in
an apartment, Frank pretends
to be a National Security
agent who has just arrested
Frank and leaves Carl holding
an empty wallet. The FBI is
embarrassed. Frank decides to
impersonate a doctor in
Atlanta and watches DR.
KILDARE shows on TV to learn
everything he can about
medicine. When his cover is
blown, he travels with a nurse
to her home in Louisiana. He
studies for two weeks and
passes the Louisiana State
bar, forges an identity and
gets hired as an assistant
prosecutor. Eventually, of
course, as we know from the
beginning of the movie, he is
caught. By this time, however,
Hanratty has taken a paternal
interest in Frank and, after
several years, has him
released from jail under his
care so Frank can help the FBI
investigate check
fraud. Steven Spielberg is a
master storyteller. Even
though the ending is known
from the beginning, the movie
keeps you on the edge of your
seat. The sex scenes, though
discreet, are powerfully
emotive. Leonard DiCaprio is
perfect as an adolescent, and
Tom Hanks has a wonderful
character arc from the
seemingly dull, focused FBI
agent to the surrogate father
of this wayward young man. One
aspect of Spielberg's genius
shows through in the visual
design of the movie. From the
1960s PINK PANTHER
cartoon-type opening to the
garish colors of the set of TO
TELL THE TRUTH to the bold
settings throughout the movie,
Spielberg has indelibly
established this movie as a
1960s artifact. His attention
to detail here is much like
his work on the
under-appreciated MINORITY
REPORT. It is a sense of time
and space that few directors
have. Although in real life,
Frank says he repented of his
sinful ways, the soft ending
to the movie almost seems to
condone Frank's adolescent
behavior, which involved, by
the way, $4 million worth of
forgery and no doubt left a
few people destitute. The real
Frank does claim that his
illegal behavior was motivated
in part by his mother
abandoning his father, which
left his father shattered.
Thus, the movie does show the
havoc that divorce can inflict
on a child. Clearly, Frank
eventually found the love of
the father manifested in the
hard-hearted FBI agent. There
is no doubt that Christians
believe in compassion and
love. The scene of Frank being
captured in the small French
town where his mother grew up
contains a small Christmas
service going on in the
background. This scene
highlights the grace of God,
who so loved the world the He
gave His only begotten Son to
pay the price for each and
every man and woman's sin. In
spite of the Gospel's call for
us to love our enemies, and
the forgiveness that can be
found alone in Jesus Christ,
God's Law is still part and
parcel of God's will for
mankind. Thus, even Paul
submitted to the Roman
authorities, as did the other
apostles, except in the rare
case where Roman law
conflicted with God's Law. The
movie, therefore, lifts up
love, compassion and
indulgence above repentance
and responsibility. Law and
Grace are always united in
God's Kingdom; it is not one
or the other. Although
everyone who calls on Jesus to
save them is redeemed,
justified and saved, they
still must submit to secular
authorities. In the movie, not
only does Frank not call out
to Jesus Christ to save him,
but also his punishment for
serious criminal activity
seems like a slap on the wrist
which makes it appear as if
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is
presenting a cheap form of
grace. The movie does,
however, show Frank making
restitution for his crimes by
helping the authorities
capture other forgers. Please
address your comments
to: David Geffen, Jeffrey
Katzenberg & Steven
Spielberg DreamWorks SKG 1000
Flower Street Glendale, CA
91201 Phone: (818) 695-5000

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 140 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(PaPa, C, B, LL, SS, N, A, DD, MM) Pagan "anything goes" adolescent worldview mitigated by a Christmas service, a lead character exhibiting selflessness and man doing some moral restitution for criminal activity; eight obscenities and four profanities; man dying in isolation cell, police point gun at man's head, police rough up young man, doctor gets sick after seeing boy's injured leg, and daring escapes; scene of depicted fornication, scenes of implied fornicated, woman climbs on fake doctor sitting on chair, sexual talk, prostitution, abortion discussed as having ruined a woman's life, implied adultery, mother runs away from family and marries father's best friend; upper female side nudity; alcohol use; smoking and reference to drugs; and, tax evasion, check kiting, forgery, deception, impersonation, fraud, and misrepresentation.

GENRE: Comic Thriller

PaPa

C

B

LL

SS

N

A

DD

MM

Summary:

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, is an entertaining comic thriller about a con man named Frank Abagnale, Jr., who impersonates an airline pilot, doctor and a lawyer and who is pursued by a relentless FBI agent. Containing some foul language and sexual situations, the soft ending to the movie seems to condone Frank's adolescent, illegal behavior, but it does have some moral, redemptive elements.

Review:

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is a well-made, entertaining movie with one of those warm fuzzy endings that usually appeals to audiences. In a way, it is reminiscent of LES MISERABLES with a twist. The FBI/law enforcement character in this movie proves to have a kind heart, as opposed to the ruthless Gendarme Javert in LES MISERABLES who represented the law without grace.

Underneath the entertaining veneer, however, is a 1960s adolescent sensibility that condones sex and illegal activities. Thus, it is not the movie parents should show to impressionable adolescents, who are among its target audience.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is based on a true story about a criminal forger, con man and impersonator. In recent articles, the real Frank Abagnale, Jr. has said that he has no financial stake in the movie and that the movie does not represent his complete repentance and total abhorrence of his adolescent activities. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times (12/06/02), "before he saw a cut of the film, he was so worried studio promotion would glorify his crimes James Bond-style that he disavowed young Frank on his business Web site. ('I consider my past immoral, unethical and illegal. It is something I am not proud of.')" He says he is now dedicated to teaching moral principles and repulsed by his immoral behavior during his adolescent years.

The movie opens giving away part of its ending, with FBI agent Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks in a superb dramatic performance, traveling to France to extradite Abagnale back to the United States. Frank is in prison in Marseilles in 1969 for forging checks. When Carl visits Frank in the prison, Frank is so sick that he collapses. Carl calls for a doctor, and, while Carl is talking to the French police, Frank starts to escape.

Flashback to New Rochelle, New York in 1963. Frank's father, also named Frank, is receiving an award from the Rotary Club. Christopher Walken, in one of his best roles as Frank's father, tells a very stupid story in receiving his award, and young Frank jumps to his feet and wildly applauds. Clearly, Frank loves his father. When they get home, his father reminds him that he met Frank's mother in France, that every eye in the platoon was on her that night in the small bistro in Montrichard, France, but he was the one who won the heart of this French beauty.

This pleasant family life quickly comes to an end, however. Frank, Sr. is under investigation for tax evasion. The family's assets are seized, and they have to move into a small apartment. Frank is ribbed when he transfers from an elite private school to public school. To get back at the student who belittles him, Frank pretends to be a substitute French teacher and carries it off for a whole week, showing that he has talent in assuming other identities.

One day Frank comes home to find his mother leaving her bedroom with the head of the Rotary Club. Next, he comes home to find his parents in the midst of divorce proceedings. The lawyer tells him to choose which parent he wants to live with. Instead, he runs away.

Frank's father had just given him a checkbook for his 16th birthday, so he starts bouncing checks at flophouses in New York. With his good looks and brilliant mind, Frank seduces the prettiest bank tellers and finds out the information he needs to start forging checks.

Soon, he finds out that airline checks are the easiest to pass. Therefore, he pretends to be a student reporter and interviews the manager of Pan Am Airlines. Then, he calls up Pan Am and gets himself a uniform and starts forging and passing Pan Am checks. At the same time, he has another girl every night and attracts the most beautiful women with his good looks and suave uniforms.

Before long, FBI agent Carl Hanratty is on his tail, but Frank is a brilliant paperhanger, as Carl calls him, always staying a few steps ahead of the law. When Carl does catch him one day in an apartment, Frank pretends to be a National Security agent who has just arrested Frank and leaves Carl holding an empty wallet. The FBI is embarrassed.

Frank decides to impersonate a doctor in Atlanta and watches DR. KILDARE shows on TV to learn everything he can about medicine. When his cover is blown, he travels with a nurse to her home in Louisiana. He studies for two weeks and passes the Louisiana State bar, forges an identity and gets hired as an assistant prosecutor.

Eventually, of course, as we know from the beginning of the movie, he is caught. By this time, however, Hanratty has taken a paternal interest in Frank and, after several years, has him released from jail under his care so Frank can help the FBI investigate check fraud.

Steven Spielberg is a master storyteller. Even though the ending is known from the beginning, the movie keeps you on the edge of your seat. The sex scenes, though discreet, are powerfully emotive. Leonard DiCaprio is perfect as an adolescent, and Tom Hanks has a wonderful character arc from the seemingly dull, focused FBI agent to the surrogate father of this wayward young man.

One aspect of Spielberg's genius shows through in the visual design of the movie. From the 1960s PINK PANTHER cartoon-type opening to the garish colors of the set of TO TELL THE TRUTH to the bold settings throughout the movie, Spielberg has indelibly established this movie as a 1960s artifact. His attention to detail here is much like his work on the under-appreciated MINORITY REPORT. It is a sense of time and space that few directors have.

Although in real life, Frank says he repented of his sinful ways, the soft ending to the movie almost seems to condone Frank's adolescent behavior, which involved, by the way, $4 million worth of forgery and no doubt left a few people destitute. The real Frank does claim that his illegal behavior was motivated in part by his mother abandoning his father, which left his father shattered. Thus, the movie does show the havoc that divorce can inflict on a child. Clearly, Frank eventually found the love of the father manifested in the hard-hearted FBI agent.

There is no doubt that Christians believe in compassion and love. The scene of Frank being captured in the small French town where his mother grew up contains a small Christmas service going on in the background. This scene highlights the grace of God, who so loved the world the He gave His only begotten Son to pay the price for each and every man and woman's sin. In spite of the Gospel's call for us to love our enemies, and the forgiveness that can be found alone in Jesus Christ, God's Law is still part and parcel of God's will for mankind. Thus, even Paul submitted to the Roman authorities, as did the other apostles, except in the rare case where Roman law conflicted with God's Law.

The movie, therefore, lifts up love, compassion and indulgence above repentance and responsibility. Law and Grace are always united in God's Kingdom; it is not one or the other. Although everyone who calls on Jesus to save them is redeemed, justified and saved, they still must submit to secular authorities. In the movie, not only does Frank not call out to Jesus Christ to save him, but also his punishment for serious criminal activity seems like a slap on the wrist which makes it appear as if CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is presenting a cheap form of grace. The movie does, however, show Frank making restitution for his crimes by helping the authorities capture other forgers.

Please address your comments to:

David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg & Steven Spielberg

DreamWorks SKG

1000 Flower Street

Glendale, CA 91201

Phone: (818) 695-5000

In Brief: