Catch Me If You Can  (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

IMPORTANT SIDEBAR AND ALERT: For years, my Russian-educated wife has been telling me that Leo DiCaprio looks like Lenin. I had never seen any pictures of Lenin, except those taken when he was a mature man, during a period when he looked more like Nixon's aide, John Erlichman.

I thought Elya was off her rocker.

Of course, she was familiar with Lenin's appearance throughout his life, and Lenin's baby-faced youth was often discussed among Russians. Well guess what? She was right. DiCaprio is still in his 20s, and he has all his hair, but now that he has a man's face rather than a boy's, he is really starting to resemble Lenin.

Furthermore, I have been able to find some pictures of Lenin as a student (right) that validate Elya's argument as well as her memory.

On the other hand, based on the two rightmost photos, Lenin may actually look a little more like Booger in "Revenge of the Nerds" (aka Curtis Armstrong)

Here's the real DiCaprio. Baby-faced superstar - or the future of international communism?

You be the judge, Komrade.


What the hell was I supposed to be talking about?

Oh, yeah. Catch Me if You Can

This film may be the all-time record holder for "most complete consensus", if we could find an objective way to define the record. All three of the major critics whom we always cite (Ebert, Berardinelli, Gliebermann) awarded three stars or a B. When I looked through the Yahoo summary, every score was a B except for a lone C+ and a single A. In short, everyone said it was good (97% of all reviews were positive, according to Rotten Tomatoes), and just about everyone recommended it, but nobody thought it was exceptional. It was the perfect B student.

I guess the reason for that consensus can be summed up in four sentences:

1. It didn't try to do very much.

2. But what it did do, it did exceptionally well.

3. It is inoffensive.

4. It bridges all gender and age groups.

Leo DiCaprio plays the part of Frank Abagnale, a real-life wunderkind of crime, who managed to pass more than two million dollars worth of bad checks before his 21st birthday, in 26 countries across the world. And that was back in the sixties, when two million dollars was a spit-pot full of money. There were two secrets to Abagnale's success. First, he was intelligent. Second, he was charming.



The perfect grifter!

He passed himself off as a doctor, an airline pilot, and a lawyer. His scams were so sweet that in Louisiana he actually passed the bar exam, despite the fact that he had only two years of high school, no legal training at all, and was still about high school age when he took the test.

Abagnale's story was pretty good to begin with, but the film spiced it up with a humorous cat and mouse chase in which Abagnale took pride in doing things under the nose of the FBI. For example, at one point the Feds know that Abagnale is going to fly out of Miami International Airport, and Abagnale knows they know. Instead of getting in his car and driving to Atlanta, he pulls off an elaborate misdirection scheme which allows him to walk on a plane in Miami while the feds are watching. The scam ends when the Feds surround a man whom they believe to be Abagnale, only to find that he's only a decoy who's been paid to dress like Abagnale, and is actually a limo driver whose main job is to pick up a passenger in Miami, using one of those little signs that the drivers use. The name on the sign? The head of the FBI team assigned to catch Abagnale!

In other words, they took a great yarn and made it even more fun by turning it into a McGarrett/WoFat chase. Leo DiCaprio is swaggering and seductive as the dapper, cocky Abagnale. Tom Hanks is suitably frumpy and determinedly single-minded as the agent obsessed with Abagnale's capture. It is to Hanks's credit that he subsumed his well known superstar persona into a nameless, personality-free lump of an agent, yet was also able to convey the character's intelligence and decency.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Two disks

  • "Catch Me if You Can": Behind the Camera

  • Cast Me if You Can: The Casting of the Film

  • Scoring "Catch Me if You Can"

  • Frank Abagnale: Between Reality and Fiction

  • The FBI Perspective

  • "Catch Me if You Can": In Closing

  • Photo galleries

  • Widescreen anamorphic format, 1.85:1

SIDEBAR: The real Frank Abagnale is now a millionaire consultant. He got rich using his ability to think like a criminal, by offering consulting services to banks and government agencies.

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Entertainment Weekly B.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. Voting results: IMDb voters score it 7.9/10,  Yahoo voters appraise it at 4.2/5, and Metacritic users average 7.1/10
  • Box Office Mojo. It was budgeted at $52 million for production, and the distribution/advertising costs are estimated around $35 million. It did a solid $30 million its first weekend, second only to LOTR, then finished up as a big hit ($164 million)
  • Exit interviews: Cinema Score. A solid, consistent A-. No demographic group rated it higher than A or lower than B+.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, B-. Beautifully constructed entertainment picture. Sure, it has no substance. Who cares?

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