Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) never aspires to become one of the youngest people ever to make the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List--it just kind of turns out that way. His adventures begin in 1967 when he runs away from home at 16 just as his parents are divorcing. He finds himself alone in the Big Apple unsuccessfully trying to cash fake $20 checks. One day Frank notices how much respect is given to two airline pilots and he decides impersonating a Pan Am co-pilot might be just the ticket so to speak. Thus begins his brilliant three-year run as a master of deception. After infiltrating Pan Am he changes careers--he's a pediatrician then a lawyer--all the while perfecting his forgery skills. Cashing fake checks all over the country Abagnale amasses millions and quite literally becomes a kid in a candy store buying sports cars and fancy suits losing his virginity and pretending he is James Bond. Still the fact remains Frank is just a kid. Even after all these adult experiences his main objective is to get his father Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken) a down-on-his-luck store owner hounded by the IRS back together with his now-remarried mother (Nathalie Baye). Frank's nefarious activities eventually catch the authorities' attention and Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) a no-nonsense FBI agent in charge of the bank fraud division is soon hot on Frank's tail. But Frank doesn't mind. Part of him wants to get caught and he baits Hanratty to never give up the chase. Hanratty never does and finally brings his man to justice.
Catch Me's acting ensemble shines. Given the fact DiCaprio is in two high-profile movies this holiday season--this one and Gangs of New York--puts the actor back on the radar after a hiatus (perhaps he was licking his wounds after starring in the disastrous 2001 The Beach). Yet if you were to match the performances DiCaprio's stellar turn as Abagnale definitely stands out as the better of the two (the Golden Globes feel the same recently giving DiCaprio a nod for best actor in a drama). He fits the part like a glove--all at once charismatic childish vulnerable and deadly intelligent. DiCaprio easily shows how Frank isn't necessarily a sociopath but more a needy kid looking for acceptance. Say what you will about DiCaprio's movie star qualities he still has the acting chops to make it work. Walken as Frank Sr. also gives one of the better performances of his career playing a sad man who knows the apple doesn't fall from the tree but who is too proud to admit his mistakes--even to his son. Hanks is superb as well (is there anything this man can't do?) playing the by-the-book Hanratty completely devoid of emotion--but making us laugh anyway every time he comes on the screen. He doesn't mean to of course but to see Hanks play something so obviously straight somehow brings out the humor in the situation even more. Just don't ask Hanratty to tell you a joke. TV's Alias honey Jennifer Garner also makes a nice cameo as a prostitute--watch out folks she's heading for the big screen.
Based on the real-life memoirs of Frank W. Abagnale Jr. Catch Me If You Can is a fascinating study of a brilliant mind which isn't by nature criminal--just slightly misguided (ironically the real Abagnale now in his 50s is a legitimate businessman who also acts as an consultant for the FBI's bank fraud division). Under the skillful hands of director Steven Spielberg Catch Me has a great deal of fun going for a very '60s tongue-in-cheek Pink Panther feel from the opening credits to the ease at which Frank goes about his merry way conning everyone including himself. The motto of the film has to be "never deny." Frank accepts everything and things just fall into his lap. Even when Frank tries to tell the truth to the father (played by Martin Sheen) of a woman he wants to marry it works to his advantage. Yet the meat of the film is Frank's inner turmoil at the breakup of his parents of wanting his family back together again and of his need to come clean. Frank secretly wants to be disciplined told what to do and that's why Hanratty becomes so important almost a fatherly figure to him. The film probably plays about a half hour too long especially in explaining what happens to Abagnale after he gets caught but otherwise it totally engages you.
Top Story: Britney Spears Responds to Fred Durst's Comments
Semi-retired pop princess Britney Spears, whom Glamour magazine named woman of the year, has shed some light on her alleged relationship with Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst. According to People.com, British Glamour asked Spears if she and Durst really had a thing for each other. "I think him for me, but not me for him." Spears added that she was ticked off at Durst's claims on The Howard Stern Show that she tried to seduce him by arriving at his Los Angeles studio in a see-through blouse. In other Britney news, The Associated Press reports a lawyer for the singer's alleged stalker, 41-year-old Masahiko Shizawa of Yokohama, Japan, argued in Los Angeles Superior Court Friday that his client is simply "an avid fan" and his actions were misinterpreted by the pop star. Spears is seeking a restraining order against Shizawa, claiming he sent her hundreds of love letters and photographs and tracked her to her homes in Louisiana and Hollywood.
Madonna Goes From "Sex" to Children's Books
Madonna has signed a publishing deal with Penguin to write five children's books, Reuters reports. Her first book, The English Roses, based on the adventures of a red fox and a little prince, will be published in September. Penguin did not reveal how much it was paying Madonna to write the books, which will feature illustrations by a well-known artist. Aimed at children aged six and over, the books are a stark contrast to Madonna's previous publishing effort. In the early 1990s, her book Sex featured the pop star and her celebrity friends, including Naomi Campbell, Vanilla Ice and Isabella Rossellini, in various stages of undress.
P. Diddy Expands Restaurant Chain
Hip-hop entrepreneur Sean "P. Diddy" Combs plans to open a third Justin's restaurant in four to eight months in downtown Detroit, the AP reports. The original Justin's--named after Combs's oldest son--is in New York with a second location in Atlanta. The restaurants offer soul and Caribbean food.
The Clash Will Not Perform at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
The Clash bassist Paul Simonon said the surviving members of the band will not perform when they are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this month. Lead singer Joe Strummer died of a heart attack in December and had mentioned performing just before he died. But Simonon said he never got the chance to reply and was actually opposed to the idea. According to Reuters, Simonon told British Broadcasting Corp. radio he thought it would be better for the Clash to play in front of their public audience rather than "a seated and booted (crowd)." The Clash, one of the most influential bands to emerge from the British punk movement of the 1970s, split up in the mid-1980s and never reformed.
Anthony Hopkins Weds Again
Anthony Hopkins, best known as Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter, married antiques dealer Stella Arroyave in a private ceremony, Reuters reports. Hopkins, 65, and Arroyave, 46, tied the knot Saturday in a ceremony in Malibu attended by friends and family. The two had been dating for about two years. This is the actor's third marriage.
"The Twist" Songwriter Dies
Hank Ballard, the singer and songwriter whose hit "The Twist" ushered a nationwide dance craze in the 1960s, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, the AP reports. Ballard had been suffering from throat cancer. In 1958, Ballard wrote and recorded "The Twist," which was only released on the "B" side of a record. Chubby Checker debuted his own version of "The Twist" on Dick Clark's television show one year later. The song topped the charts and launched a dance craze. Ballard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
Role Call: Bonnie Hunt; Johnny Knoxville; "Lupin the Third"
Writer-director-actress Bonnie Hunt will appear on the big screen alongside Steve Martin in 20th Century Fox's remake of Cheaper by the Dozen for director Shawn Levy. Hunt and Martin are the first two actor deals to close on the project, with production scheduled to begin March 31.
Jackass mastermind Johnny Knoxville, meanwhile, has joined the cast of Hating Her, a $10 million comedy that starts production next month. Selma Blair, Bridget Moynahan, Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney, Blythe Danner and Logan Marshall-Green are already set to star in the project for helmer Thomas Bezucha. Finally, master thief Lupin the Third, a 1960s Japanese comic book anti-hero, will soon make his Hollywood debut. Gerald R. Molen, producer of the Oscar-winning Schindler's List, has acquired the movie rights to the work.