“Dear Dad, you always told me that an honest man has nothing to fear, so I’m trying my best not to be afraid.”
I have fond memories of seeing this movie in the theater (with my family, as I recall, on Christmas Day 2002). But that’s about it; I hadn’t seen it once in the eleven (!!) years since, and wouldn’t have put it on a list of my favorite Spielberg movies, or favorite Tom Hanks movies, or favorite Leonardo DiCaprio movies.
I would now.
This movie is almost too good for its own good. It’s such an entertaining trifle of a cat-and-mouse game, it’s easy to miss the complexity of its themes and to dismiss just how brilliantly Spielberg controls the pace and the tone, which effortlessly puddlejumps from jubilant excitement to bitter loneliness. How can one movie be so entertaining and depressing all at once?
Like so many Spielberg movies, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is about the aftermath of a divorce, and in that regard, it is one of his most moving, thanks in large part to the brilliant performances from DiCaprio, Hanks, and especially Christopher Walken, who are all men broken by broken marriages. But it’s also a very perceptive movie about growing up, hating your job, loving your job, and lies that we believe until they become the truth. Also, only a Jew could make such a beautifully sad movie about being alone on Christmas. It’s such a wonderfully melancholic holiday movie, in fact, I think I might make watching it my own annual tradition. Merry Christmas, Carl.