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 May 27, 2004

-- Movie review --

Catch it if you can

By Teague Neal

Director Steven Spielberg’s "Catch Me If You Can" is a good movie that is based on the largest fraud ever committed in the United States , as well as one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Based on the 1980 book "Catch Me If You Can," an autobiography and novel written by Frank Abagnale, the story details his mammoth frauds that started when he was 16 in 1964.

First off, thumbs up for whoever worked on the opening credits. The movie opens for the first five or 10 minutes with a humorous and creative animation showing an FBI agent chasing Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s a fun way to open the film.

The story begins with Abagnale living in a dysfunctional family where he feels left out because his parents are centered on themselves. They become more and more upset with each other as the first half hour or so progresses and finally divorce.

Through this period, Abagnale opens a bank account and starts committing fraud.

Then the movie gets exciting.

Abagnale leaves home and has a nearly 3-year "adventure" using multiple names for himself and faking 5 different jobs including a high school teacher, the head doctor of a large city hospital, a lawyer and a "Pan Am" airline pilot.

The whole time, Abagnale is running away from the FBI as he quickly becomes one of the names on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list and the target of agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks).

The agent is constantly running after Abagnale, sometimes reaching him in person or getting very close, but his prey is always one step ahead.

Abagnale develops an ongoing game of "catch me if you can" as the agent becomes a sort of father figure. They hate each other, yet Hanratty becomes a sort of odd friend and actually does have regular conversation as he tries to find where Abagnale is and how he thinks.

An example of this is at Christmas when Abagnale phones the agent and they wish each other Merry Christmas.

The bulk of the movie entails Abagnale’s adventure with some humor and feel-good scenes, while also showing the seriousness and crime of this larger bank fraud.

The story progresses as Abagnale comes up with many schemes to get his money through fraud. Hopping from bank to bank, state to state and once country to country he continues his crime.

I don’t want to give away the ending of this movie as it is very interesting and fast paced, including Abagnale getting away by climbing out a plane’s bathroom.

It’s all fast paced, but not fast enough to get you confused.

It could be improved by maybe having a little less focus on the love relation that Abagnale develops about half way through the movie at the large city hospital when he fakes being a doctor. Abagnale falls deeply -- maybe too deeply as far as the storyline goes --with a young nurse.

Also maybe they could jump into the story a little later with less character development at the start.

But I recommend you see this movie, and if you’re interested, maybe you can catch the book, too.

 

 

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