67% The Maze Runner Sep 19
65% A Walk Among the Tombstones Sep 19
52% This Is Where I Leave You Sep 19
84% Tracks Sep 19
92% The Guest Sep 17

Top Box Office

11% No Good Deed $24.3M
72% Dolphin Tale 2 $15.9M
92% Guardians of the Galaxy $8.1M
19% Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $4.9M
20% Let's Be Cops $4.4M
89% The Drop $4.1M
37% If I Stay $3.9M
36% The November Man $2.8M
33% The Giver $2.6M
67% The Hundred-Foot Journey $2.4M

Coming Soon

68% The Equalizer Sep 26
70% The Boxtrolls Sep 26
86% The Two Faces of January Sep 26
—— Two Night Stand Sep 26
91% Jimi: All Is by My Side Sep 26

New Episodes Tonight

100% Garfunkel and Oates: Season 1
—— Haven: Season 5
89% The Honorable Woman: Season 1
56% Married: Season 1
39% Rush: Season 1
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
79% You're the Worst: Season 1

Discuss Last Night's Shows

86% The Bridge (FX): Season 2
83% Extant: Season 1
—— Franklin & Bash: Season 4
—— The League: Season 6
56% Legends: Season 1
24% The Mysteries of Laura: Season 1
59% Red Band Society: Season 1

Certified Fresh TV

87% Boardwalk Empire: Season 5
86% The Bridge (FX): Season 2
91% Doctor Who: Season 8
83% Extant: Season 1
89% The Honorable Woman: Season 1
87% The Knick: Season 1
89% Manhattan: Season 1
97% Masters of Sex: Season 2
90% Outlander: Season 1
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
87% The Strain: Season 1
79% You're the Worst: Season 1

Catch Me If You Can (2002)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 194
Fresh: 186 | Rotten: 8

With help from a strong performance by Leonardo DiCaprio as real-life wunderkind con artist Frank Abagnale, Steven Spielberg crafts a film that's stylish, breezily entertaining, and surprisingly sweet.


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 45
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 4

With help from a strong performance by Leonardo DiCaprio as real-life wunderkind con artist Frank Abagnale, Steven Spielberg crafts a film that's stylish, breezily entertaining, and surprisingly sweet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 741,827

My Rating

Movie Info

A gifted forger and confidence man attempts to stay one step ahead of the lawman determined to bring him to justice in this comedy-drama from Steven Spielberg, based on a true story. Frank W. Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a 16-year-old high school student who finds himself emotionally cut adrift when his mother, Paula (Nathalie Baye), leaves his father, Frank Abagnale Sr. (Christopher Walken), after Frank Sr. falls into arrears with the Internal Revenue Service. One day at school, Frank


Drama, Action & Adventure

Jeff Nathanson

May 6, 2003


DreamWorks SKG - Official Site External Icon

Watch It Now


Latest News on Catch Me If You Can

August 11, 2011:
Fox Plans "Barefoot Bandit" Movie
The studio pays $1.3 million for the rights to make a film about Colton Harris-Moore's...
May 16, 2008:
Steven Spielberg's Ten Best-Directed Films
RT counts down the ten best-reviewed films directed by Indiana Jones helmer and modern moviemaking...


Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.

All Critics (194) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (186) | Rotten (8) | DVD (33)

This is the director's most likeable film in ages, even if it's insubstantial, overlong and, frankly, a touch redundant.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

DiCaprio has the breeze and aplomb to keep it all bouncing along.

January 16, 2003
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Breezily enjoyable but thin.

January 16, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A delicious cat-and-mouse game flecked with intriguing Oedipal undertones.

January 14, 2003
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A gently funny, sweetly adventurous film that makes you feel genuinely good, that is to say, entirely unconned by false sentiment or sharp, overmanipulative Hollywood practices.

January 13, 2003 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Catch Me if You Can is one of those deceptively slight offerings that manages to reveal more about its maker than the intended masterpieces often do.

January 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I don't think anyone would argue that 'Catch Me If You Can' is one of Spielberg's best films. However, it is good enough and passes a pleasant couple of hours.

November 28, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Excellent account of FBI's youngest Most Wanted.

December 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A truly excellent, action packed, and funny crime caper...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed | Comment (1)
Cinema Crazed

This amiably light-footed chase gets the job done.

February 1, 2009 Full Review Source:

The movie is a good time. It not only produces happiness, it is happy.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source:

a future classic

April 11, 2006

The movie is -- intentionally or otherwise -- a remarkable parable about denying reality until reality catches up to you.

January 15, 2005
Looking Closer

Has Steven Spielberg lost it?

October 7, 2004 Full Review Source: | Comments (20)

...the film would've been vastly improved had it been trimmed down to 90 minutes.

August 21, 2004 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews | Comment (1)
Reel Film Reviews

The stylish, cartoon-like opening credits reminded me of the snazzy beginnings of the Peter Sellers-Pink Panther movies.

June 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

One of Spielberg's finest pieces of storytelling. Helps make up for A.I.

December 21, 2003
Cinema Sight

Steven Spielberg's new film is lighthearted and enjoyable, with just enough undercurrents of human frailty to keep the story interesting.

October 7, 2003 Full Review Source: EDGE Boston
EDGE Boston

It's Spielberg who pulls the con by leading us down a familiar path only to rup the rug out from under us.

July 16, 2003 Full Review
Star Newspapers (Chicago, IL)

Spielberg. . .supersedes even himself with one of the most enjoyable and compelling films of his career.

June 11, 2003 Full Review Source:

In a holiday season characterized by heavy cinematic fare, Stephen Spielberg has concocted a frothy trifle.

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

Is this a light-hearted romp? Is this a psychological drama? Is it a thriller? Can it be all three? Not quite, Sort of. Uh Uh. And dear lord no.

April 5, 2003 Full Review Source: Killer Movie Reviews
Killer Movie Reviews

What could have been a great film is merely a good one, by way of forsaking the gritty details for directorial sleight of hand.

March 18, 2003 Full Review Source:

Es casi una reconciliación con el mejor Spielberg...

March 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Hanratty isn't a strictly factual character - he's called O'Reilly in the book, not his real name either - but the performance Hanks gives makes you wish he were. Abagnale isn't strictly factual either, but DiCaprio makes him an attractive counterfeit.

March 7, 2003 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

Audience Reviews for Catch Me If You Can

In my review of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I spoke about the misconception that darker films are inherently better or more substantial. If Steven Spielberg's film demonstrates that darkness can severely backfire in stories of a light or silly nature, we might logically assume that the opposite is true - namely that a serious (or in this case factual) subject matter can be handled in a fun, light-hearted way while still getting its substance across.

This brings us on to Catch Me If You Can, a later Spielberg effort covering the early life of teen fraudster and con artist Frank Abagnale Jr.. It takes the potentially grim and gritty subject matter of confidence tricksters and spins us a merry yarn about the excesses of youth whose protagonist is always empathetic. While it perhaps doesn't go as far into its subject matter as perhaps it could have done, it's still a sterling piece of entertainment with a lot of heart behind it.

Catch Me If You Can has an interesting production history, in which any one change could have drastically altered the finished product. Having been passed around the studios for 20 years since the book rights were first optioned in 1980, the project began to gain traction in 2000 when David Fincher signed on to direct. Fincher later jumped ship to make Panic Room, being replaced first with Gore Verbinski, then Lasse Hallstrom, Milo Forman and finally Cameron Crowe before Spielberg himself opted to direct.

In each case, the director's subsequent output gives us some idea of how they would have approached Abagnale's story. Fincher would have brought an edgy undercurrent to proceedings, focussing on the mental state of Abagnale and the ease with which he was able to fool the system. Verbinski would have handled the story incompetently while doing some justice to the period detail, just as he would later do with Pirates of the Caribbean. Both Hallstrom and Crowe would have made things much more sentimental, playing up the father-son relationship at the expense of the actual cons. And Forman... well, on the basis of Goya's Ghosts, it would have been rather dull.

In the end, Spielberg was the right person to direct this film. Regardless of his reputation or the influence he wields over the industry, the story of Catch Me If You Can is perfect for his sensibility. It has many of the elements which have characterised his best work: light-hearted adventure, a celebration of American values, a son searching for his father and a dry, often joyous sense of humour. While direct comparisons with Indiana Jones are a little misleading, this is as close as he's come to Indy for some time, at least in terms of entertainment.

The first big success of Spielberg's film is putting us in the period. The opening credits are quintessentially 1960s, with animated versions of the characters dancing out of the way of the various names. John Williams' score is playful and upbeat but with a whistful undercurrent, bringing to mind the iconic theme music for the Pink Panther series. While Monsters, Inc. used the 1960s look as juxtaposition to its funky CG animation, Catch Me If You Can uses it to great effect to acclimatise us before we've even seen our leads.

The good visual work continues after the credits with some lovely period details. Janusz Kami?ski, who has worked with Spielberg since Schindler's List, offers up a colour palette of appealing pastel colours, harking us back to a more innocent, carefree time. Having been a teenager in the early- and mid-1960s, Spielberg clearly has a firm understanding of the fashions, manners and institutions of the period. No skirt seems too short, no car too modern, and no expression out of context or added purely to make the characters seem old-fashioned.

While it doesn't revolve around the FBI enough to properly constitute a spy thriller, Catch Me If You Can is still the closest that Spielberg has come to making a James Bond film. He'd expressed an interest in doing so after 1941, with George Lucas pitching the original idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark as "better than James Bond". The film is fantastically paced so that two-and-a-half hours just fly by, with the thrill of the chase being beautifully balanced by more thoughtful and suspensful moments.

It would be foolish, however, to think that Catch Me If You Can was all about surface, with no deeper ambitions other than recreating the period setting or providing a thrilling chase. Arguably the best thing about Spielberg is his ability to convey meaningful, often complex ideas through scenes and stories which appear to be totally frivolous. In this instance, he returns to one of his familiar themes of a father-son relationship, using a familiar device in his work to tease out the deeper motivations behind Abagnale's tomfoolery.

Much like E. T. twenty years before it, Catch Me If You Can examines how divorce can severely impact the well-being of the couple's children. In the midst of Frank's great capers, which con honest people out of millions of dollars, we get scenes of Frank having often torturous discussions with his father, whose fortunes decline as Frank's rise. These meetings are a device on Spielberg's part: in reality, Abagnale never saw his father again after leaving home at 16. But the change comes with the blessing of the real-life Abagnale: even at the height of his exploits, he would fantasise about his parents getting back together.

Frank begins conning as an act of determined rebellion against the old order. He sees his father, an upstanding pillar of the community, suffering as he goes through life doing things the right way; as much as he loves his father, he resolves never to end up like him. There's a through-line with Goodfellas here, with both films justifying their protagonists' illegal lifestyles on the grounds that living a legitimate life causes more trouble and unnecessary effort. Equally, there's a comparison with Death of a Salesman, with Leonardo DiCaprio standing in for Biff and Christopher Walken doing a very fine job in the tragic role akin to that of Willy Loman.

But while Martin Scorsese's film was deeply ironic and sought to deglamourise the life of Henry Hill, Spielberg actively courts our sympathy for Frank's actions. Spielberg commented in interviews that people were "more trusting" in the 1960s and that the film wouldn't be deemed instructional to con artists of today. While this latter statement is definitely true, there's no denying that the film is far more sympathetic towards Frank than it is towards the FBI agent hunting him down. Carl Hanratty is depicted as being like Frank's dad: seperated from his wife, driven by work, doing his best but still on the losing side (until the end).

We might dispute the value of being so sympathetic, given the differing intentions of the stories and the nature of their protagonists. But one area where Catch Me If You Can does falter a little is the mechanics of Frank's forgeries. It explains the cons in enough detail for us to follow, but it always puts the thrill of the chase over a deeper examination of how Frank managed to pull off any one scheme. On an intellectual level, it's much more Lethal Weapon 2 than To Live and Die in LA.

While there is an awful lot of pleasure to be mined from just following the chase, there are moments in the film when we are conscious of Spielberg substituting depth for something less enticing. There's no issue at all with Frank seeing his father on a regular basis, but the fact that he keeps running into Carl on Christmas Eve is so contrived that even Frank Capra wouldn't touch it. Likewise, the ending drags a little, with Frank attempting one last escape in the midst of coming to work for the FBI. Had this section been trimmed, the film might not have needed the end cards explaning Abagnale's actions after reforming.

Ultimately, these problems are allayed or rendered somehow less important through the charm of the central performances. DiCaprio's early career had seen him pandering to his pretty-boy image, but here he strikes a very good balance between fresh-faced charisma and emotional depth. Tom Hanks, fresh from a more demanding turn in Cast Away, turns in a typically fine performance as the downtrodden, long-suffering and frustrated Hanratty. Most impressive, however, is the Oscar-nominated Walken, who keeps things reined in tight to create one of his most meaningful performances in years.

Catch Me If You Can is a rollicking good romp with a good amount of heart and a trio of fine male leads. While it's ultimately as light-headed as it is light-hearted, it does get to grips with some of the deeper issues with Frank's lifestyle as well as serving up much in the way of thrills and spills. While it's not Spielberg's best film by any stretch, it is a good example of how good he can be when he just decides to have fun.
July 30, 2014
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

Based on a true story, Frank (Leo) a 17 year old runs away from home when his parents get divorced. To survive he starts to forge cheques and takes on false identities as a pilot, doctor and lawyer. Frank is chased by the FBI Carl (Tom) all across America and Europe. Great cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen and Amy Adams. Directed by Steven Spielberg.
July 11, 2013
Candy Rose

Super Reviewer

Great story. Amazing that someone would be ballsy enough to actually try the various occupations Frank did.
February 14, 2013

Super Reviewer

Certainly one of Speilberg's most nuanced films, and, as a result, arguably more affecting and emotionally resonant than Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's List. The story is fascinating and both Speilberg and his cast do it full justice, delivering quick witted thrill with a sort of fragility behind it. Really great- my favourite Speilberg.
December 21, 2012
Louis Rogers

Super Reviewer

    1. Frank Abagnale Sr.: You know why the Yankees always win, Frank?
    2. Frank Abagnale Jr.: Because they have Mickey Mantle?
    3. Frank Abagnale Sr.: No, it's because noone can keep their eyes off those damn pinstripes.
    – Submitted by Tyler J (5 months ago)
    1. Frank Abagnale Sr.: You know why the Yankees always win, Frank?
    2. Frank Abagnale Jr.: Because they have Mickey Mantle?
    3. Frank Abagnale Sr.: No, it's because noone can keep their eyes off those damn pinstripes.
    – Submitted by Tyler J (5 months ago)
    1. Frank Abagnale Sr.: You know why the Yankees always win, Frank?
    2. Frank Abagnale Jr.: Because they have Mickey Mantle?
    3. Frank Abagnale Sr.: No, it's because noone can keep their eyes off those damn pinstripes.
    – Submitted by Tyler J (5 months ago)
    1. Frank Abagnale Jr.: Leave me alone.
    2. Carl Hanratty: I can't, It's my job.
    – Submitted by Siddharth K (20 months ago)
    1. Frank Abagnale Jr.: My name is Frank Abagnale. Not Abagnalee not Abagnaylee but Abagnale!
    – Submitted by Siddharth K (20 months ago)
    1. Frank Abagnale Jr.: Merry Christmas Carl!!
    – Submitted by Siddharth K (20 months ago)
View all quotes (21)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Catch Me If You Can on our Movie forum!

What's Hot On RT

Red Carpet Roundup
Red Carpet Roundup

100 pics from Toronto Film Fest

Hunger Games
Hunger Games

New Mockingjay - Part 1 trailer

New on DVD & Blu-Ray
New on DVD & Blu-Ray

Godzilla, The Fault in Our Stars

24 Frames
24 Frames

Longest-running American sitcoms gallery

Foreign Titles

  • Arrête-moi si tu peux (FR)
Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile