Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can

Enjoyable if feather-light dramatization of the life of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teenage con artist who, for four years in the 1960s, evaded the FBI while writing millions of dollars' worth of forged checks and posing as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. Abagnale's story practically screamed, "This would make a great movie!" In the end, it makes for a good movie.

It's nice to see Spielberg set aside his obsessions with computer graphics and World War II for once and just cut loose. Both he and his cast (Leonardo DiCaprio as Abagnale, Tom Hanks as the hapless FBI agent on his trail) are clearly having a lot of fun. That spirited attitude is infectious, too - you won't feel bored or insulted. But I do wish the film could have gone a little deeper. Apparently Abagnale's autobiography is just as flippant as the movie, but the real Frank must have gone through some paranoid, lonely times. The story only skims the surface, rather lamely suggesting that Frank's pathological need to keep running - and lying - was simply a reaction to his parents' divorce. It could have instead depicted Frank's anti-authoritarian actions as a harbinger of the national unrest that unfolded so soon after his arrest. So, some missed opportunities there.

I also didn't dig the cinematography by Spielberg's frequent DP Janusz Kaminski. He's a great talent, but this time he overlights everything. I think the early '60s should have been depicted as squeaky clean; it would have made a better backdrop for Abagnale's crimes. Instead it's all hazy and backlit. Oh well. Catch Me If You Can is still a fun little movie. It won't mean much in the long run, but it's a nice palate cleanser before Spielberg's next big epic.