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Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Rare opportunity to see an American feel-good flick that actually works .

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 140 minutes

UK Certificate: 12a

They'll steal your gran's pension, sell you a dodgy wristwatch and charge a small fortune for laying tarmac on your driveway – but who among us doesn't love a conman?

The general public's sometimes baffling affection for a confidence trickster is what Steven Spielberg taps into in this roller-coaster cat-and-mouse tale inspired by the autobiography of Frank Abagnale Jr. who, as a teenager in 60s America, swindled a cool $2.5million in bogus bank cheques.

Of course, the crux here is that he scams the bulk of his bounty out of America 's major banks, rather than some sweet old granny. So that makes it okay then.

Credit where it's due, Frank Jr. (played to perfection by baby-faced 28-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio) is a little more than just a glamorous version of Del Boy Trotter. Torn apart upon learning of his parents' plans for divorce, Frank Jr. runs away from home and swiftly discovers a penchant for high-class swindling. So begins five years of living the high-life in various guises including airline pilot, secret agent, doctor and lawyer.

On the case as Frank Jr. runs up the mother of all bills is dour-yet-likeable FBI bloodhound Carl Hanratty, the latest string to be added to the ever-flexible bow of Tom Hanks.

But it is the brilliant Christopher Walken, revelling in the tragi-comic role of Frank Sr., who predictably steals each of his all too rare scenes. Upon hearing his increasingly-desperate comparisons of himself with the mouse who fell into a bowl of cream only to walk to safety after churning it into butter, you won't know whether to laugh or cry. Then again, if a Spielberg-Walken combination can't find it in their abilities to touch an audience, who can?

This rare opportunity to see an American feel-good flick that actually works makes Catch Me If You Can well worth – erm – catching. Just try not to hold it against Spielberg, Hanks, DiCaprio and co if you've ever had a shifty-looking character on your doorstep trying to get rid of some cheap tarmac.

It's Got: 60s panache, a wonderful Pink Panther-esque animated opening sequence, and superb performances from some of Hollywood’s most reliable luminaries.

It Needs: A cameo role for the original Frank AbignaleJr. It’s only polite, after all.


An original tale bringing out the best in a stellar cast, more than making up for the ever-so-slight impression that there’s been a mad rush to squeeze as much of the book’s content onto the big screen as possible.