Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Marty Demarest


As the man responsible for a good number of the top-grossing films of all time, Steven Spielberg doesn't have to try very hard. He merely needs to come up with an idea, mention it to a few people and suddenly he has resources at his disposal that would sustain an entire nation. It's refreshing, then, to see that even with budgets that would make a Republican blush, he manages to fail regularly (see A.I. and Amistad for some bloated-yet-humdrum filmmaking). It's even more interesting, however, when he succeeds.


That's not to say that Catch Me If You Can is of the same caliber as E.T. or even The Color Purple -- because it's not -- but rather that it's good filmmaking, and undeniably Spielbergian. Gone are Minority Report's cookie-cutter scenes that made Spielberg seem like some talented film school graduate on a spending spree. Instead, we get something that Spielberg does better than any other director in Hollywood: a fractured, 20th-century middle-class American family.


In telling the story of thief and thrill-seeker Frank Abagnale Jr., Spielberg gets two things he knows how to work with. The first is a broken home -- Frank's parents, including a great turn by Christopher Walken, split early in the film. The second is an eager young hero -- played gracefully by Leonardo DiCaprio -- who retreats from this reality into his own realm of fantasy. For Abagnale, this means posing as people he's not, and taking money that isn't his. Mirroring the giddy exploits of DiCaprio's Abagnale is the stalwart determination of Tom Hank's FBI agent Carl Hanratty, who eventually tracks Abagnale down. The parallel structure of two obsessed individuals, one dynamic and the other determined, gives Spielberg plenty of directing room without leading him into the realm of spectacle.


The bad news is that Spielberg still hasn't figured out how to end his films. There are several points when the film would have been better served by just stopping. The only other flaw with Catch Me If You Can is Spielberg's reticence to personally contribute to his DVD releases. Even boring filmmakers sound interesting when talking about their work, and yet Spielberg refuses to grace us with any commentary tracks. There are a few mini-documentaries, but Catch Me If You Can is a pretty skimpy release unless you count the expensive-looking, entertaining film.





Publication date: 05/15/03

  • Pin It

Latest in

  • The Council Whisperers
  • The Council Whisperers

    As the influence and activism of some city council assistants has grown, they've become a new target for conservative critics
    • Apr 28, 2016
  • Left Out
  • Left Out

    Two Spokane Valley city councilmen have resigned because of their differences with the four-person council majority
    • Apr 28, 2016
  • What Happened to John Marshall?
  • What Happened to John Marshall?

    The wife of a man found dead in the Spokane River is searching for answers three months after his death
    • Apr 28, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Treasure!

Treasure! @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 29

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Marty Demarest

  • The Cowboy's Cowboy
  • The Cowboy's Cowboy

    A Canadian sings about the life —  not just the lifestyle — of the new West
    • May 15, 2013
  • Completing the Trilogy
  • Completing the Trilogy

    Mass Effect has finally arrived
    • May 23, 2012
  • Minecraft
  • Minecraft

    Adventure and survival too often give way to mindless crafts in this building-block simulator.
    • Feb 8, 2012
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Gentrification's Downside

    Displacement and the loss of an imperfect but honest neighborhood
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Nothing But the Truth?

    Some police caught lying or committing crimes remain on the job. What that means for the integrity of the criminal justice system
    • Mar 31, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Comment


Election 2016


green zone


marijuana


Trail Mix


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • A "Pro-Woman" Candidate?
  • A "Pro-Woman" Candidate?

    A closer look at Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' voting record on issues affecting women and families
    • Oct 22, 2014

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation