Far more modest in ambition than most Spielbergs, and so less portentous and bombastic, this is the director's most likeable film in ages, even if it's insubstantial, overlong and, frankly, a touch redundant. It's a jaunty mix of light suspense, romance and comedy in the vein of To Catch a Thief or Donen's Hitchcock pastiches. Taken from a true story, it centres on middle class WASP teenager Frank Abagnale Jr (DiCaprio) who, shaken by the separation of his parents (Walken and Baye), leaves the suburbs for NYC and, starts cashing fake cheques to get by. It helps to pretend he's an airline pilot - the first of several identities adopted to avail himself of cash, girls and bogus careers that can restore pride to a dad plagued by the taxman. Trouble is, Junior's japes also interest FBI fraud specialist Carl Hanratty (Hanks). Elements to savour include Janusz Kaminski's elegant camerawork, John Williams' atypically agreeable score and strong performances. But that's all we get. With Spielberg and scriptwriter Jeff Nathanson keeping things meticulously superficial, you're left longing for the wry ironies of impostor fare like Close-Up or A Self-Made Hero. Unsurprisingly, Spielberg settles for family values and an unfortunate happy ending.
Cast and crew
Frank John Hughes