11/18/07 Catch Me If You Can
An unfortunate truth for an overwhelming number of modern films is that they lack theme, or at least a consistent, working theme. While some just seem to focus on something scene by scene, which can work when done properly, others aren’t really given the amount of attention shown in Catch Me If You Can. Simply put: the entire movie shares the same feeling, the same mood and tone, and the same faint, but easily noticed, hint of magic that Spielberg effortlessly adds into the majority of his movies. Complimented by very fitting score by John Williams, the movie drifts by without any slow points, and cleans up very nicely, leaving you with a warm feeling reminding you that movies can be so good without containing a lot of, what I call, “stuff”.
This was the second movie that people did a double take at the casting decisions, namely Leonardo DeCaprio. But, like Gangs Of New York, his performance was outstanding, totally demolishing his image of a pretty face for the teenage female demographic. As a seventeen year old kid attending a new high school, or as a twenty-one year old inmate, scraggily, haggard, and sickly, his performance is shockingly convincing. Despite the fact that what he is doing throughout the entire movie is taking advantage of people’s inability to distrust a charming smile, or choose to not listen to smooth talk, you end up loving the character more and more. You root for him, wishing he’d rip you off just so you can say you met the guy. Because of this, any hardships he goes through, which mainly deal with his parents, are very touching, and Leo really knows how to pull on the heartstrings. But, of course, when your father is played by Christopher Walken, it’s easy to look good.
Tom Hanks also delivers one of my favorite performances, as well as a chance to hear him say “go fuck yourselves”. His accent, while mildly annoying (intended), is always spot on, and never drops. Tom Hanks is given a rare chance to be a jerk, and he does it well, and I don’t think it would have worked with anybody else, simply because there isn’t another male actor so university liked as Tom Hanks. This bizarre chance to see Hanks be a jerk next to Leo adds to the sympathy you’ll eventually feel for Leo’s character. I would say make an effort to watch out for this, but I’m willing to bet that it’s intentional, another hint to how much Spielberg knows about directing a film.
While the movie is great, there is a double edge sword with the way it’s filmed. The entire film has a “Golden American Dream” feel to it, making the working man look like a sucker, and the government look like heartless and nameless problems. The magic of the movie relies on the fact that what you’re seeing is a very exaggerated and idealistic portrayal of America, the downfall is that it looks like the fifties, when it actually takes place in the late sixties. I can understand why they chose to film it with the lively, dream-realizing glow that the fifties are remembered for (whether or not it’s accurate is irrelevant), and because of this you’ll end up forgiving Spielberg for what was surely an intentional choice.
The constant idea of the American dream all throughout the film comes off as a very bittersweet, unreachable goal, and while the movie does carry a very negative undertone, it’s extremely fun and quick, but never hard to follow. It isn’t a movie that’s a strain to watch multiple times, mostly due to it’s humor, and simply how impressive Frank Abignale was as a con artist. Not to spoil anything, but it ends on a high note, which is very fitting, and I can almost promise you’ll laugh at the last second of the movie. I found this movie, overall, to be very underrated in what some might consider the new line of Spielberg films.