A lively caper inspired by true events, Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can never takes itself too seriously. Though classified a drama, the story contains enough comedy to keep viewers giggling at every turn. It also helps that the two leads, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, are capable of easily switching between drama and comedy, sometimes within the same scene.
Catch Me if You Can is a fictionalized account of Frank Abagnale, Jr. (DiCaprio) who wrote over $2.5 million in bad checks under various identities. Between the ages of 16 and 21, Abagnale successfully posed as an airplane pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. However, Abagnale’s scams capture the attention of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), an expert in the field of bank fraud prevention. The two engage in a lengthy cat-and mouse game, where Carl always seems to be a step behind Frank. Despite just missing Frank countless times, Carl never gives up. Meanwhile, Frank constantly reinvents himself, sometimes to avoid getting caught and sometimes because he feels like it. No matter how successful Frank becomes, at his core, Frank is a lonely person. His closest relationship is with his father, Frank, Sr., (Christopher Walken, in a surprisingly low-key performance) whom he deeply respects. He feels a deep sense of resentment toward his French-born mother (Nathalie Baye) who divorced his father to marry a successful businessman, Jack Barnes (James Brolin). During Frank’s time posing as a doctor at an Atlanta hospital, Frank falls in love with a sweet nurse named Brenda Strong (Amy Adams), but when Carl Hanratty begins closing in, Frank is forced to go on the run.
Catch Me If You Can makes the interesting case that both Abagnale, Sr. and agent Hanratty represent authority figures that to a point provoked Frank, Jr. to do the things he did. As Hanratty makes clear in the film’s final act, Abagnale’s initial decisions were driven by a need to resurrect his father’s dignity in the face of an IRS initiated business failure. And the void left when his wife left him. Later, he was intoxicated by the thrill of the chase itself.
As one might expect from a Spielberg production, the ’60s period detail is flawless. The attitudes of the characters fit the era perfectly. Today, it’s hard to remember a time when people were so easily hoodwinked. But this was before the Vietnam War protests and Watergate changed everything. Even John Williams’ jazzy score evokes ‘60s soundtrack staple, Henry Mancini.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Paramount has delivered a fine transfer. The print quality is solid, with fine looking blacks. Despite several shots with blown out whites, there’s clean and consistent contrast throughout. The film’s pastel laden color palette comes through with nice clarity. Detail is quite good, though shadow delineation suffers just a bit due to the high contrast effect. This is a definite step above the film’s standard definition version.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound mix spreads John Williams score nicely throughout the surrounds. Discrete effects pop up in the rears on occasion and Dialogue comes through nicely. While the .1 LFE track doesn’t have a lot to do here, it underscores the action nicely.
French, Spanish, and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mixes are included, as are English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.
The following special features are available:
All features are in SD, unless otherwise noted.
- Catch Me If You Can: Behind the Camera (17:09) a making-of piece featuring interviews with cast and crew, that covers production issues, production design and the Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography.
- CAST ME if You Can: The Casting of the Film Five shorts about actors in the film and the roles they play: “Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale Jr.” (6:07), “Tom Hanks as Carl Hanratty” (6:19), “Frank’s Parents: Christopher Walken and Nathalie Baye” (7:22), “The Strong Family: Martin Sheen and Amy Adams” (5:30), and “Jennifer Garner as Cheryl Ann” (3:15). These shorts flesh out the production, offer perspective and behind-the-scenes footage.
- Scoring: Catch Me If You Can (5:25) John Williams offers his thoughts on the process of scoring his 20th Steven Spielberg film. Spielberg also offers some thoughts on the pieces used in the film.
- Frank Abagnale: Between Reality and Fiction (14:29) Divided into four parts that can only be played separately, this is a informative discussion about the real Frank Abagnale, Jr. Frank himself, discusses his life and his exploits.
- The FBI Perspective (7:07) Technical advisor William J. Rehder, a former FBI agent, discusses the film sand its accuracy.
- Catch Me If You Can: In Closing (4:59) Some final thoughts from Abagnale, the cast and crew, as well as some more behind-the-scenes footage.
- Photo Gallery (SD) A collection of production stills and other photos broken into to three categories: “Cast,” “Behind the Scenes” and “Costume Gallery.”
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