I have great respect for Leonardo Dicaprio’s career choices. He’s one of the few actors who refused to stay the pretty poster-boy that Hollywood made him out to be in his youth. His movie choices have matured with each passing year. He seems to choose roles that stretch his talent and force him to act out of his element.
Match him with arguably one of the greatest actors to grace the screen – Tom Hanks – and the most eclectic directors of all time – Steven Spielberg – and you’ve got to wonder: How can Catch Me if You Can not be one of the best movies ever? (And I didn’t even mention that it’s got one of John Williams’s best scores.)
Generally, when it’s time to pull out the Christmas movies each November, Catch Me if You Can is the one we start off with. As Sarabeth says of me, “If there happens to be a small Christmas tree in the background of one scene, you think it’s a Christmas movie.”
That’s how it is with this movie. There’s maybe one or two scenes that take place on Christmas Eve, and they’re the most memorable of the whole film – and most tear-jerking.
So, why would a movie about a young convict being chased all around the world be one of my all-time favorites? Because it’s all wrapped up in the theme of redemption, like most of my favorite movies.
Catch Me if You Can tells the true story of a young boy who’s life is torn apart by his parents’ divorce, and he finds himself altering his life by pretending to be things other than himself – a teacher, a pilot, a lawyer, a doctor.
He becomes the world’s best – and youngest – con-artist and masters the art of forging checks. All the while, the FBI is on his trail, trying desperately to get him behind bars. The problem is, they can’t catch him!
I’ve also read the book by Frank W. Abagnale, which is just as good as – but very different from – the movie. (I happen to appreciate most changes from page to screen.) The book has also been made into a musical, which I would not be opposed to seeing if I knew it was playing in Louisville.
But back to that theme of redemption. The great thing about this movie is that the one who has fallen so far doesn’t help himself, but actually receives help from a very unlikely source. His help is very much undeserved (he stole 2.6 million dollars from 26 different countries), and very unexpected. But it goes to show you that no one has fallen so far that they’re not worth our helping hand.
Catch Me if You Can is PG-13 for brief sexual content, disturbing images, and some strong language.