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Catch Me if You Can

Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. flew for Pan Am, was a practicing pediatrician in Georgia, a sociology professor at BYU, and an assistant state attorney in Louisiana for years, without graduating from high school. he was a con man, a check forger, and went by several names (Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams, Robert Monjo, etc.). The FBI collared him after listing him on their Most Wanted list (the youngest person to be so listed), threw him in jail, then hired him to help combat check fraud and other white collar crimes.

The movie's previews portray this flick as a comedy/caper while hinting only slightly at the "heavier" side. Unfortunately, the movie suffers a bit from Spielberg's "heaviness." The movie wasn't nearly as funny as it should have or could have been. If Speilberg had wanted to do a serious film, he failed. If he wanted to do a comedy, he failed. This movie sat between "I Love Trouble/Three Fugitives" (not to pick two Nick Nolte movies on purpose...) and something far more serious like "Shawhank Redemption".

Spielberg seemed unwilling to just have fun with the movie. To let the hijinks pile up. To treat the movie with a witty irreverance that makes a movie, well, fun. Instead, he had to throw in all this stuff - which may have happened in real life, I understand - about his parents' divorce, his dad's tax problems, and so on. I can't think of a movie in which Spielberg brings comedy and any level of seriousness together in a same movie well. It's just not one of his talents. "Evolution" was funny, "Shrek" was funny, "Saving Private Ryan" was serious, "Artificial Intelligence: AI" was good, and "The Mask of Zorro" was well done also...

That having been said, the film was entertaining. It was worth the five fifty I paid to see it at matinee pricing. Is it worth more than that? Will I be buying it on DVD? No, can't say it is or I will. However, the movie did spark my interest in Frank himself, and I have since purchased both of his existing books. I'm a fan of historical events portrayed in movies (Titanic, Erin Brockovich, Patch Adams, etc.). Call me a sucker... but I'm sure I'll enjoy the books - the actual history - a bit more than the movie itself.

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