Catch Me If You Can

Bomb Rating: 

There's nothing quite like a Steven Spielberg film to get a herd of fidgety film critics out in droves to suck some Hollywood wang. Let's face it, Spielberg has done more for sentimentality than Hallmark and he's the most overrated director in the history of cinema (unless you're judging strictly on box-office), yet the critics line up like children at a J.K. Rowling signing to sing his praises.

I wouldn't exactly call "Catch Me If You Can" much of a challenge either. After all, how many filmmakers could cast Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks and NOT make a film that everyone will go see regardless of what it's about? As long as the film doesn't involve partnering with a dog or a trip to some exotic island, a 100 million dollar take is virtually guaranteed unless Spielberg decides that his artistic muse suddenly inspires him to start operating the camera with his penis.

"Catch Me If You Can" is "inspired" by the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. (DiCaprio), a con-artist in the 1960s who wrote bad checks to the tune of four million bucks and got away with pretending to be an airline pilot, doctor and lawyer at various times. Frankly, I'm fed up with this whole "inspired by" thing that directors are now using. What this term really means is "we're lying about almost everything." It used to be that filmmakers said their movie was "based upon" something, but now directors use "inspired by" so they can just make up whatever facts they want and not be sued. My question: Why even bother? Why does it matter if "Catch Me If You Can" is "inspired" by the truth? It's even worse when Spielberg adds that inevitable end-of-film text telling us what Frank and the FBI agent who chases him, Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), are doing today. This seems pointless since 80% of what I just saw probably never happened.

The "inspiration" for Abagnale's thieving ways emanates from his father Frank's (Christopher Walken) financial failure and marital break-up. Old Frank teaches young Frank all about charm and young Frank uses that charm to get laid and write bad checks. Amazingly, and like all other Spielberg films, "Catch Me If You Can" draws to a close with the inevitable Spielberg happy ending. The message? That if you're good-looking, blond and charming, you can commit felonies for most of your life, get away with them and be okay in the end.

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  • I'm so sick of this particular phrase, I'm going to stand up and walk out of the theater the next time I see it: "Inspired by actual events." I'm sorry, but what in the hell does that mean?

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  • "The Terminal," about a guy named Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) getting stuck in an airport for months, is reportedly based on a true story.