The 2002 film, Catch Me if You Can, portrays Frank Abagnale Jr.'s coming of age. Introducing the film is an animated title sequence, not unlike that of Pink Panther, that allures and engages the audience with curiosity. Although the film opens with a 1977 episode of the game show To Tell the Truth, the movie's early scenes focus on the disintegration of the Abagnale family and its effects on Frank.
When he's faced with the choice of which parent will have custody of him upon their divorce, Frank runs away. Finding his way without any friends, without any money, and with the twin goals of redeeming his father's reputation and repaying his father's debt to the IRS, Frank becomes a shadow of his father with dishonest, deceptive, and manipulative behaviors. Just like his father, Frank Jr. became prone to living in a dream world, wanting to be powerful and admired by all. Gaining knowledge through manipulations, partly fueled by his lack of intimacy and connections with other people, Frank developed into a criminal mastermind. He successully wrote millions of dollars in fraud checks, all while personifying an airline pilot, doctor, and attorney. With FBI Agent Carl Hanratty close on his tail, Abagnale traversed the globe in hopes of not getting caught.
While suspense keeps the story moving briskly, it still allows the audience to be a fly on the wall. With John Williams' accompanying music compostions, Director Steven Spielberg's presentation allows the audience to truly imagine the being present, watching real life events occur. Special effects and scenery aren't present, being replaced by alternate camera angles, which permit the storyline to carry itself, especially at the most crucial of moments. This is assisted by the elements of the film being culturally in-sync with the time period. Furthermore, the film includes an all-star cast. Leonardo DiCaprio's portayal of Frank Abagnale Jr. is spot-on and believable, being quick-witted and extremely confident (though the character's loneliness and insecurity are later revealed). FBI Agent Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks, is determined and even-keeled, eventually becoming a father-figure to Frank. Other notable actors include Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, and Amy Adams.
The PG-13 film perfectly meets expectations, with superb acting and an extraordinary plot about a young man finding his way in the world. Although some brief online research reveals the discrepancies between the film and the real story, it is nevertheless satisyfing, poignant, enjoyable, and exciting, leaving this viewer wanting more. Catch Me if You Can is appropriate for high-school and adult audiences.