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Professor Fealy Essay # 3: Evaluation of Criteria

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James Hopson

Eng 1A

Professor Fealy

Essay # 3: Evaluation of Criteria

Due: May 3, 2011

Catch Me if You Can: An Entertaining Roller Coaster Ride

Imagine having the ability to become an airline co-pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer all before turning the age of twenty-one. Well believe it or not; this became a reality for Frank Abagnale Jr. as he infiltrated the system in the 1960’s. The Steven Spielberg directed movie “Catch Me if You Can” brings out this true story, in which a sixteen year old runaway Frank Abagnale Jr. (played by Leonardo Dicaprio) began his “brilliant three year run as a master of deception” ( In this three year stint, he also forges over a million dollars of fake checks across the country, creates several aliases for himself, and manages to become the youngest person on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Carl Hanratty, an FBI Bank Fraud Agent (played by Tom Hanks) engages with Abagnale Jr. in what calls a “a highly enjoyable cat-and–mouse escapade.” After Frank Abagnale Jr. was eventually caught, Carl Hanratty realized that Abagnale’s check-savviness could be a benefit to his department in the FBI. He later went on to have a successful career as an FBI Agent in Check Fraud, instead of facing a timely prison sentence. The movie flows well due to a plethora of acting skills, well-written dialogue, and an entertaining back and forth battle that Abagnale Jr. encounters with Hanratty and also within himself.

“Catch Me’s acting shines,” raves. The movie contains a respectable and veteran class of Hollywood talent with Leonardo Dicaprio, Christopher Walken, and Tom Hanks leading the way. The intriguing mixtures of the actors’ personalities go very well together. Leonardo Dicaprio’s portrayal of Frank Abagnale Jr. is said to be “all at once charismatic, childish, vulnerable, and deadly intelligent” ( His character’s main influence in all of his escapades is that of his father Frank Abagnale Sr, who is a military veteran that has hankering problems with the IRS; played by Christopher Walken. Christopher Walken’s easy going and at times jokingly and sarcastic personality, along with his intriguing story telling ability, go extremely well with the enthusiasm and curiosity played by Leonardo Dicaprio. Tom Hanks also never fails to take an acting role and become it, as he does a wonderful job at effectively utilizing the character of an uptight workaholic with a strong Boston accent (Carl Hanratty) to oppose Leonardo Dicaprio’s character Frank Abagnale Jr.

“Two mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse, wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he chummed that cream into butter and crawled out” ( It is clever little anecdotes such as this one that Frank Abagnale Sr. passed on to act as a reminder to Abagnale Jr. throughout the movie, to keep moving forward through any obstacles that he faces. Even though Abagnale Jr. is living a fantasy as a criminal the whole way through, he is facing it as if it is meant to be his reality. This ignorance is best depicted in part of a letter in which he writes to his father, “You always told me that an honest man has nothing to fear, so I’m trying my best not to be afraid” ( He did not understand the seriousness of the situation, but in all reality his opponent (Carl Hanratty) was nothing but business. A great example of Hanratty’s uptightness was when a couple of other FBI agents ask him to tell a joke. Hanratty answers by saying “Knock, knock” and with an anything but humorous tone, he mutters “Go fuck yourselves.” Dialogue can be vitally important in keeping the viewers’ attention and making it a memorable movie experience, and in “Catch Me if You Can” it does just that.

A review from suggests that the movie “begs to be told in 100 minutes. Instead, the introspective storyteller drags the film out to a bloated 140 minutes with a distracting subplot surrounding Frank’s incessant desire to reunite his divorced parents.” The problem with this review is that the subplot was more than necessary; after all, his parent’s divorce was a direct result of Frank Abagnale Jr’s escape from home into a life of forgery and deception. Although he was extremely intelligent, his immaturity starts to show throughout the movie. The so called “distracting subplot” shows how in all reality that he was not a co-pilot, a doctor, or a lawyer, but that he was a crafty teenager that just needed a temporary escape from reality. Not being able to grasp his parents’ divorce within, he went crazy and tried to pursue more fulfilling and prestiges roles in society. But when the high started to ware off and he turned into the homesick teen that had always been deep down inside of him, he was in too deep and had to stay on the run. Abagnale often called Hanratty, mainly because he had no one else to talk to “Stop chasing me!” Abagnale Jr. angrily begged in a phone conversation with Hanratty. “I can’t stop it’s my job” (, their back and forth “cat and mouse” games throughout the movies show a great deal of determination and intelligence of both sides, but expose Abagnale Jr’s emptiness and need for fulfillment at a hard time in his young life. The Chess match between the two makes for an exhilarating, but also meaningful plot.

In closing, the movie “Catch Me if you Can” is a superb depiction of a real life phenomenon in which an average teenager turns into one of the greatest Con men that the U.S. has ever seen and later used his intelligence of deception for good. In order to make this possible, Steven Spielberg brought in an excellent group of actors and writers to make a movie that many people have raved about. Joel Siegel of Good Morning America declared that “Movies don’t get much more fun than this.”

Word Count: 1,001

Works Cited

"Catch Me If You Can (2002) - Memorable Quotes." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 25 Apr. 2011. .

"Catch Me If You Can News, Reviews, Summary, Great Film Moments, Cast and Crew, Videos." Entertainment News | Entertainment Photos | Entertainment Video | Web. 25 Apr. 2011. .

"Catch Me If You Can - Movie Review." - The Latest Movie Reviews and DVD Reviews. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. .

Bowen, Kit. "Catch Me If You Can Reviews |" Movies | Reviews | Movie Times | Hollywood News | Web. 25 Apr. 2011. .

"Catch Me If You Can." DreamWorks Animation. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. .

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