Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Frank Abagnale Jr., social engineer and con boy extraordinaire. Set in the glorious '60s (which, oddly, look much like the stylish '50s) and based on his bestselling memoir, 17-year-old Frankie Abagnale, Jr. manages to wink, weasel, defraud and bilk $2.5 million from Corporate America. But it's okay -- he's doing it all for love. Well, love and "fine threads, luxurious lodgings, and fantastic foxes."
Stricken by the announcement of his parents' divorce, Frankie (Leonardo DiCaprio) believes he can bring about a reconciliation if he can come up with enough moolah for the family to return to its charmed lifestyle. And so begins his psychological escape and ingenious transformations (teacher, airline pilot, Secret Service Agent, doctor, lawyer) on the road to counterfeit cheque glory. Though a little long in the tooth to play a teenager, DiCaprio manages to strike the delicate and plausible balance between naive boy ("This is by far the best date I've ever been on") and suave charmer ("I'd like to cash this cheque here and then I'd like to take you out for a steak dinner"). Flanked by Tom Hanks as Carl Hanratty, the earnest FBI Agent pursuing him, and the sublime-yet-spooky Christopher Walken (the emotional anchor of the film who also cuts a mean rug) as Frank Abagnale, Sr., there's no lack of star wattage or acting talent on the roster. Also noteworthy are cameos by Martin Sheen, Jennifer Garner and James Brolin (hey, there is life after Hotel!).
Confessions of an Adolescent Con Artist -- Spielberg positions this firmly in good ol' fashioned hoodwinking territory (more The Sting than The Grifters) with our sympathies clearly on Frankie's side. However, if we must criticize, Catch Me If You Can moves from one caper to the next without enough attention to character (no, changing from pilot's blues to doctor's cost to lawyer's duds doesn't count) or narrative development. That said, it's tough to complain when the acting is stellar, the cons so bold and most importantly, it's all so much fun.