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Catch Me If You Can

On the heels of Steven Spielberg's surprisingly breezy Minority Report, the director spent a quick 52 days shooting Catch Me If You Can (2002), a slick period piece about real-life con man Frank Abagnale, Jr. (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). It may not be Spielberg's best movie, but it's his happiest, friendliest film in a long time. Based on Abagnale's autobiography, the movie tells his true-life story — as a teenager, he faked checks, diplomas, and birth certificates, and he also cashed forged checks for millions before his 21st birthday and flew around the world for free posing as a Pan Am pilot. He later went on to successfully impersonate a doctor and a lawyer. Then, after serving several international sentences for fraud, he was paroled at age 26 on the condition that he go to work for the FBI and teach agents how to catch guys just like himself. Catch Me If You Can follows five important years in Abagnale's life, from the point where he started kiting checks through his Pan Am adventures and, finally, to his capture and detainment in a French prison. To make the story more than just an admiring bit of fluff, we're given the Freudian background on the lad — an admiration for a larcenous father (Christopher Walken), deep pain over his parents' divorce, and a burning desire to shine in his parents' eyes. Fleshing out the themes is Abagnale's cat-and-mouse relationship with the FBI agent who's chasing him (Tom Hanks). All of this is presented as a witty, glossy fairy tale — truthfully, one may feel a twinge of guilt enjoying Abagnale's shenanigans without any concern for who he may have hurt in the process — with ever-so-slight subtext about fathers, sons, families and the personal need for validation. DiCaprio's impressive acting chops are notable, while Hanks makes his humorless agent both sympathetic and likable. But the real performance gem in the film is Walken as Abagnale, Sr.. It's a beautifully written role, and Walken makes the most of a charming loser — he well deserved the Oscar nomination he received for the role. DreamWorks' two-disc Catch Me If You Can offers the film in a pristine anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio options. Supplements include featurettes on the production, casting, score, the real-life Frank Abagnale, and the FBI's perspective on the case. Also on board are a still gallery, cast-and-crew notes, and production notes. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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