Remember the good old days where you not only got excited for a Steven Spielberg film, but you could actually tell that he directed it? Like there was some unifying style that connected his movies together both thematically and visually? Well, last night I saw Catch Me If You Can. This film is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who in the late 1960s posed as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer and defrauded banks using a check scheme out of a few million dollars – all before he was 18 years old. Based on the book by Abagnale, the film starts off a little slow, but after the first twenty minutes, settles into a rather good pace, that maintains the momentum until the end. The acting is fine, but not excellent. The script is fine, but not excellent. The look of the film is fine, but not excellent (kudos to Janusz Kaminski for finally ditching the low-saturation look of his past 3 films with Spielberg). The music is fine, but not excellent (though I have a greater love of the album now, having seen the film). The visual effects are fine, but not excellent (at least try to match the stock footage of the Pan Am building, please). And finally, the direction was fine, but not excellent – and certainly not distinguishable. If anyone walked in after the (very slick retro) opening title sequence, and sat through this film, they could have easily thought it was a Ron Howard movie (a director with no discernable directing style). Actually, there is a bit of a relationship thing going on between Frank Jr. and his father, which is a theme Spielberg likes to play on (the father/son bit), so I suppose that’s his “touch”.
I really did enjoy the film, but it honestly didn’t seem like all that big a deal, in the end. It’s fun to see how the cons progress, and how Tom Hanks as the FBI agent starts to close in on Abagnale. If you’re not seeing anything Christmas Day (like, family or The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for the 34th time), feel free to check out this film. I’m still curious to see the other DiCaprio flick of the season, Martin Scorsese’s long-delayed and Bernstein-free Gangs of New York.