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Wick's Review

Created Jul 07, 2021 08:30AM PST • Edited Jul 09, 2021 12:43AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Spielberg deploys DiCaprio, Walken & Hanks to great effect in the true-crime whopper Catch Me If You Can, the biopic of wunderkind conman Frank Abagnale. Spielberg’s film was a period-piece hoot when it premiered in 2002, depicting a 60s & 70s America that felt distant even then and is downright foreign now.

    A still young Leo DiCaprio was a natural as second-gen grifter Frank Abagnale Jr., with his father his hero, ideally played by the great Christopher Walken. Their father-son pas de deux forms an acting masterclass.

    The rest of the outstanding cast starts with Tom Hanks and includes Martin Sheen, Nathalie Baye, Amy Adams, James Brolin & Jennifer Garner. Not surprisingly, Spielberg makes great use of all that star power.

    The teenage Abagnale hacked the paper-check system of American banks, back when machine readable numbers were just coming into use. Abagnale went on to other grifts, before turning his life around as an ally of law enforcement. So add in Happy Ending to Spielberg, great film, a young Leo and prime Walken.

    We’re talking Great Movie, worth rescreening every few years. Like the young Leo, it never gets old.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Leonardo DiCaprio is preternaturally charming as the teenaged Frank Abagnale, a smooth criminal and precursor to his demented Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street 11 years later. DiCaprio’s career would soon careen into a series of forced marches in movies like Shutter Island, Body of Lies & Blood Diamond. He’s great at suffering, granted. But he’s most appealing when he’s appealing. Come back Leo. Come back.

    • Christopher Walken has his oddball charm turned up to 11 as Frank Abagnale Sr.
    • Tom Hanks plays a Boston G-Man like a duck to water.
    • Martin Sheen also needn’t stretch to play an eminent District Attorney.
    • The great French actress Nathalie Baye carries a brittle elegance as DiCaprio’s war-bride mother.
    • Amy Adams underwhelms as a dim girl who jumps on DiCaprio’s doctor character. The great Adams rarely disappoints, but does here.
    • James Brolin never needs to do much to play a powerful man.
    • Jennifer Garner delivers one delicious scene as a classy call girl.
    • Ellen Pompeo & Elizabeth Banks cameo in before-they-were-famous roles.
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Great 4.0

    Spielberg’s film has a lightness of being that suits the genteel criminality of a charming teenage con artist.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Great 4.0

    Jeff Nathanson wrote the screenplay, giving it several (phony) Hollywood touches.

    The book’s the thing, however. Catch Me If You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit is by Frank Abagnale Jr. (himself) & Stan Redding.

  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.7
  15. Sex Titillating 1.9
  16. Violence Fierce 1.6
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.6
  18. Glib 1.4

    The real Frank Abagnale recounts his real life in the nearby video, noting several of the movie’s falsehoods. Chief among those is that he sought out his dad while on the lam, i.e., the tableau on which DiCaprio & Walken play their masterful scenes together. In fact, young Frank didn’t see his father even once while on the lam all those years. Hence, I award the movie a CircoReality score of 2.3x normal reality, i.e., Surreal.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.3
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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