''Catch Me If You Can'' is a 2002 Creator/StevenSpielberg film based on the life of the teenage con artist Frank Abagnale Jr.

Frank Abagnale Jr. is a teenaged boy in 1960s New York whose humdrum life is disturbed when his father goes bankrupt and his parents divorce. Frank, who has already shown a talent for mimicry, embarks on a new life as a teenaged [[ConMan con artist]], passing himself off as an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer while he's still too young to drink.

Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio stars as Frank Jr., with Creator/TomHanks as FBI agent Carl Hanratty, who is chasing Frank, and Creator/ChristopherWalken as Frank Sr. Creator/AmyAdams has one of her first big film roles as a young volunteer nurse who gets engaged to Frank, with Creator/MartinSheen appearing as her father. Creator/ElizabethBanks also has an early role as a bank teller whom Frank pumps for info about how banks handle checks. Creator/JenniferGarner appears in one scene as a HighClassCallGirl who is conned by Frank. Creator/EllenPompeo also has something of a substantial supporting role.

BasedOnATrueStory, and the real Frank Abagnale Jr. was on hand as a consultant and was enthusiastic about its production.

!!This film provides examples of:

* AbusiveParents: Frank's parents are actually very supportive of their son, but his father engages in emotional abuse in one of his last scenes. Frank [[ChronicVillainy has been trying to stop his criminal lifestyle for a while now]], but can't go through with it until his father tells him that it's alright to do so. Instead Frank Sr. refuses and tries to use his son as a weapon against the government out of spite, because they didn't support him when his business went under. [[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory This did not happen in real life]].
* ActuallyPrettyFunny: Young Frank impersonates a substitute teacher for a week. He gets in trouble with the school once they find out; Frank's parents make a show of being angry at him but Frank Sr.'s face becomes a proud smirk once they leave the principal's office.
* AdaptedOut: As seen under VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory, Frank is an only child in the film. In real life, he was one of four children (he had two brothers and a sister).
* AnachronicOrder: The film skips around quite a bit. The movie starts with a clip of a reformed Frank appearing on ''Series/ToTellTheTruth'', then skips back several years to a sequence with Agent Hanratty coming to interview Frank in a brutal French prison. It then skips back several more years to the beginning to start the main narrative about Frank and his life of crime. As the main plot unspools the film periodically skips forward to show Carl bringing Frank back to the United States.
%%* ATeamMontage
* AnimatedCreditsOpening: and one that evokes the classic work from TheSixties of Creator/SaulBass!
* AntiVillain: Frank Abagnale Jr. becomes an elusive ConMan who lives a rich life by stealing millions of dollars from the government and the banks. He also came from [[FreudianExcuse a family that fell from grace and broke up]], and [[JustifiedCriminal started out with his schemes to support himself.]] He's never purposely malicious, more an irresponsible kid who should know better, tries to [[FriendlyEnemy remain friendly with the officer pursuing him]], and [[ChronicVillainy genuinely wants to stop his crimes by the halfway point but can't]]. [[spoiler:He ends the movie being prematurely released from prison and inducted into the FBI Financial Crimes Unit with Hanratty's help.]]
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: Frank confesses to Brenda he's not a doctor, lawyer, or a Lutheran and he's actually a young run-away; her response- "[[ComicallyMissingThePoint You're not a Lutheran]]?"
* ArtisticLicenseGunSafety: Carl walks through a hotel with his gun up, finger on the trigger, and even sweeps it across a civilian. Other agents are similarly cavalier. This is, of course, set before many modern firearms practices were even established. In fact, most of the agents don't even use both hands (Carl does use the modern Weaver stance a few times, which was developed in the 50s but not common until the 70s). Carl is also apparently a DeskJockey who doesn't use his service weapon much, as his hand is seen shaking when he searches through the hotel.
* BasedOnAGreatBigLie: One specific example. Most of the film is actually VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory, with the details from Abagnale's memoir heavily fictionalized for RuleOfDrama and RuleOfCool (see VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory below). Frank's escape from an airplane by wriggling through the toilet, however, is rendered almost exactly as Abagnale describes it in his book. The only problem is that the scene as Abagnale describes it couldn't have happened. The septic tank on airplanes does not detour into the luggage area. It simply is not possible to climb out of an airplane toilet in that way.
* BathroomBreakout: [[spoiler:Frank escapes from a plane extraditing him back to the United States by unscrewing the toilet and escaping into the luggage area.]]
* BavarianFireDrill: Half of the cons.
* BeatThemAtTheirOwnGame:
** Frank's in a hotel room wearing James Bond's suit, making out with a hooker when she gets up and negotiates him up to $1000 for the night. Frank's about to walk downstairs to cash a check ... and ends up signing a $1400 check over to her in return for the $400 difference. In real life, this was part of Frank's undoing, as the girl gave the FBI a description of what he looked like. Prior to that, the FBI thought they were looking for someone older.
** When Frank is practically ''begging'' his father to tell him it's OK to stop the cons, his father almost gleefully urges him to continue, feeling that Frank's crime is some sort of revenge on the government for his own tax problems.
* BlackAndWhiteMorality: This is what Hanratty firmly believes in until he discovers that Frank is redeemable.
* BluffTheImpostor: Frank (posing as a lawyer) claims to have been taught by a professor who also taught his girlfriend's father, and her father asks what the professor's dog's name was. Frank, smelling a trap, replies simply that the dog had since died. The father remains suspicious.
* BoxedCrook: Either Frank works for the FBI, or he stays in prison.
* BrickJoke:
** After Hanratty's boss chews him out and clearly gets on Hanratty's nerves, Hanratty references his previous PrecisionFStrike by going "Chief? Knock Knock."
** From that same pair of scenes, Carl tells his fellow agents that if they just keep their eyes open and do their jobs, he'll buy them both a Good Humor bar, though at the time it seems like a throwaway condescending line. Guess what those two agents are munching on back at the boss' office?
** When Frank pretends to be a substitute teacher, he says his name isn't pronounced "A-big-nah-leh", among other methods. When Carl and his partner find his mother, they read his surname on the list the same way.
* BriefcaseFullOfMoney: Frank has one, which he has to hurriedly pack when he's fleeing from his fiancee's family's home right before Agent Hanratty shows up.
* TheCasanova: Frank Jr. becomes a ladies' man and has many passionate flings throughout the movie. He falls in love with one in particular and tries to start a new life with her, but the FBI catches up with him.
* CassandraTruth:
** Sorry Carl, Frank ''was'' at the Stuyvesant Arms, room 3113. Not so sure about Las Vegas, though...
** Carl refuses to believe that Frank passed the bar exam in Louisiana after studying for two weeks. The real Frank Abagnale says he passed legitimately at the third attempt after 16 weeks of studying. A loophole at the time allowed a person to re-sit the exam three times, and their marked exam papers were returned, so essentially they only had to correct the answers they got wrong.
* CheeseEatingSurrenderMonkeys: Inverted. The French police actually seem very gung-ho about shooting Abagnale on sight. Their national pride means they're much more livid at a con man like Frank stealing their money and repeatedly embarassing them.
* ChewOutFakeOut: Frank Sr.'s response on finding out that Frank Jr. has been teaching his French class is just to smirk and laugh that his boy had the balls to do it.
* ChronicVillainy: Frank eventually becomes addicted to the thrill of living like a playboy by conning money and eluding the authorities, while becoming tired from having to look over his shoulder all the time. He needs his father's support to stop, but Frank Sr. refuses for selfish reasons. Even when Frank tries to settle down his past catches up with him and he goes further into the criminal lifestyle. When Hanratty finally tracks him down in France, Frank almost seems like a thrill-seeking junkie, and Hanratty has to save him from getting himself killed. [[spoiler:Subverted when he is released from prison to work for the FBI catching criminals like himself, and he almost goes back to his former life. He comes back into work on Monday and greets Carl as usual.]]
* CompositeCharacter:
** Carl Hanratty, mostly based on former FBI agent Joe Shea.
** Brenda was a combination of two different girlfriends from the original memoirs.
* TheCon: Many, as Frank is constantly assuming fake identities in order to scam people out of money and perks and to pass bad checks.
* ConsummateLiar: Frank lies about his identity, profession, to the FBI, his fiancé's parents, almost anything really.
--> '''Frank:''' People only know what you tell them.
* CriminalMindGames: Played with, as Frank calls Hanratty yearly at Christmas; not to taunt him, but because of crushing loneliness. Also inverted as Hanratty actually uses these calls to taunt ''him'' about eventually catching up to him ("I'm getting close, aren't I?")
* CutLexLuthorACheck: Frank eventually gave up the life of crime and discovered he could make more money as a fraud consultant.
* DeathByFallingOver: Frank is devastated to learn his father died after falling down a flight of stairs in Grand Central Station.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Due to the time period, no one comments on the fact that [[spoiler:Frank by seducing older women could have gotten them in trouble on charges of statutory rape, since he only turns nineteen at the end of the movie.]]
* {{Determinator}}: Carl Hanratty naturally. He tracks Frank even in France!
* DidNotGetTheGirl: Frank falls in love with Brenda, becomes engaged to her and wants her to run away with him, but before they can, Frank notices FBI agents waiting to catch him and he is forced to leave her behind.
* DistractedByTheSexy: How Frank gave the entire FBI the slip at Miami Airport. Just get in the middle of a group of (wannabe) stewardesses, and you're invisible!
* DoctorDoctorDoctor: When Frank pretends to be a doctor.
* EurekaMoment: When Frank first meets Hanratty, he is masquerading as law enforcement officer "Barry Allen." Later, a kid points out that "Barry Allen" is the alter ego of comic book superhero Franchise/TheFlash, which makes Hanratty realize that Frank, despite his looks, is just a kid himself.
* FiveSecondForeshadowing: Before the plane touches down at [=LaGuardia=], Hanratty looks very uncomfortable after Frank tells him he wants to call his father. Moments later, he reveals to Frank that his father is dead. What makes this worse is that earlier he had made out that Abagnale Sr. was still alive. The truth is that he didn't want to break the sad news to Frank until they were closer to home.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: The opening title sequence foreshadows several events that happen later in the film. For example, how Frank is still in school when he decides to impersonate a pilot (and that happens after he sees some flight attendants), that Carl starts following and investigating him around this time, how Frank first evades Carl, that Frank poses as a doctor and meets Brenda after a pool party, but that he has to leave her behind due to Carl still being on his tail.
* FreudianExcuse: Frank comes from a broken home and he ran away since he couldn't deal with choosing one parent over the other.
** Averted in the book. Abagnale says he had a hard time when his parents divorced, but he also says more than once that it's no excuse for his crimes, and most other children from "broken homes" don't become con artists (including Frank's own siblings).
* FriendlyEnemy: Frank Abagnale Jr. and Carl Hanratty. It's done in an interesting way early on. Frank calls Carl to apologize for the fact that Carl has to deal with his crimes. He's being totally sincere, but Carl just thinks he's mocking him. It's one of the many things in the movie that show that while Frank may be a criminal mastermind, he's ultimately just a kid.
* GameShowAppearance: Frank Jr. appears on ''Series/ToTellTheTruth'' at the very beginning of the movie; real footage of Abagnale's appearance on the show from 1977 was used with Leonardo [=DiCaprio=] and other actors (playing the imposters) digitally inserted. The question Kitty Carlisle gives to the first imposter, and the response, is TruthInTelevision, but the first question posed to the real Frank Jr. was how long he stayed on the state attorney's staff without being caught, as opposed to the film's segue to the composite character Carl Hanratty.
* GenreThrowback: The film deliberately apes the late '50s-early '60s sophisticated thriller and crime movie genre, especially ''Film/{{Topkapi}}'', the original ''Film/OceansEleven'', ''Film/{{Charade}}'', and many Creator/AlfredHitchcock movies. The title screens are done in the style of Saul Bass and the ''Franchise/ThePinkPanther'' movies, and the score by Music/JohnWilliams is an {{Homage}} to Music/HenryMancini.
* GoodForBad: As a paper hanger, this is Frank's MO, exchanging worthless checks for money and services. The technique is most visibly used when Frank scams a model/hooker, swapping a phony check for the partial amount in cash, "paying" for a full night of fulfilling a high school fantasy.
* GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion: Averted with [[spoiler:Brenda]]. In the scene where she reveals her history, she goes from merely winsome to tragic, and is played as a sweet, brokenhearted girl who is still paying for a terrible injury in her past. Her greatest penalty is that her parents, after they arranged for her procedure, [[IHaveNoSon disowned her.]]
* HighClassCallGirl: Frank meets one in a hotel, enjoys a night of sex, and then not only gives her a fake check but scams her into giving him $400 change for the fake check. He recognizes her as a model, so it's not quite clear if she's a full-time prostitute or if she was just tempted by his rich guy persona.
* HighSchoolHustler: Goes from pretending to be a teacher to get back at some bullies at his school to conning millions of dollars.
* HowWeGotHere: A double whammy: we start with Frank appearing on ''Series/ToTellTheTruth'', followed by a flashback to him in prison... followed by ''another'' flashback to 1963.
* IHaveNoSon: Brenda's parents disowned her after she had an abortion two years before she met Frank. This is averted after Frank is introduced to them.
* INeverSaidItWasPoison: "I never said your son was a criminal. I said he was in trouble."
* ItsForABook: More like It's For A School Newspaper Article. Frank pumps a Pan Am exec for info about how the airline industry works, using this tactic.
* JustifiedCriminal: Frank starts out his career of conning people and counterfeiting checks after running away from home and trying to support himself. He gets less sympathetic as his crimes and the amount of money he has stolen increase, but he remains likeable as a devllish rogue who outsmarts his enemies with sheer brains and bravado, and also scores points for tiring of his life as a criminal.
* KickTheDog: When Frank calls Hanratty in one scene to apologise, Hanratty tauntingly comments how Frank not only called to apologise but "because you have no one else to call" and laughs.
* KnockKnockJoke: Hanratty has a splendid one after his new assistants show disdain over Hanratty's serious nature.
-->'''Carl''': Well, would you like to hear me tell a joke?
-->'''His subordinate''': Yeah, we'd love to hear you tell a joke.
--> '''Carl:''' Knock knock.
--> '''His subordinate:''' Who's there?
--> '''Carl:''' ({{Beat}}) Go fuck yourselves.
* LanguageBarrier: While searching for Frank in France, Carl speaks English [[TranslationByVolume slooow-ly and LOUDLY]] to the French officials. They continue to speak French and give no indication that they have understood him.
* LoveableRogue: Frank Abagnale (winningly played by Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio). He's a very clever young man who successfully passes for a lawyer, doctor, and airline pilot, whilst committing millions of dollars worth of check fraud. But he only does this because he sees no other prospects for himself; what he longs for most is a stable family. Pursuing FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Creator/TomHanks) comes to realize this, so arranges for Frank to eventually achieve a happy ending. This story has some overlap with RealLife.
* ManlyTears: After being told by Carl that his father had died, Frank shuts himself in the bathroom and breaks down sobbing. This was after Carl had implied Abagnale Sr. was still alive, but he didn't want to say anything until they were closer to home.
* NoSenseOfHumor: Hanratty, whose all-business demeanor irks his partners.
* OneDialogueTwoConversations: When Frank asks Brenda's father for permission to marry her. When Frank says that he isn't a doctor or lawyer but just a kid in love with his daughter, Brenda's father thinks Frank's only being sentimental. Also doubles as a CassandraTruth, as Frank was pretty much confessing he was a fraud. Brenda's father misread it as sentimental.
* ParentalObliviousness: Frank's parents never seem overly concerned that their teenage son is a wanted felon being hunted by the FBI.
* {{Pastiche}}: John Williams' credit tune as well as the accompanying animation are a ShoutOut to ''Film/ThePinkPanther1963''.
* ThePerryMasonMethod: Subverted. Watching episodes of the show and knowing a thing or two about spotting forgeries and lies ''does not'' help Frank prosecute a case. Largely because he overplayed his hand and forgot how much [[YouFailLawForever formal procedure there is involved in law practice]].
--> '''Judge:''' There is no defense, there is no jury. It's just me. Son, what in the hell is wrong with you?
* PlayingSick: Zigzagged. When Hanratty arrives at the run-down French prison to extradite Frank to the United States, he assumes that Frank's uncontrollable coughing is just him acting in order to attempt another escape. He's legimitely ill however, and has to be taken to the hospital after he collapses in front of Hanratty. He does attempt to escape while there, but he doesn't get any further than the end of the block before he collapses again.
* PrecisionFStrike:
** Two words: "knock knock." "Who's there?" "Go fuck yourselves!"
** There's even one in the musical when Carl Hanratty makes the connection between all of Frank Jr.'s fake names.
** Before that, when Frank fools Carl into letting him go, Carl realises he's been duped after looking through the wallet, then throws it across the room, yelling "Oh, ''goddamn it!''"
* PrettyInMink: Jennifer Garner plays a FashionModel, first seen in a mink jacket.
* RealityEnsues:
** Frank at his engagement party, upon seeing the FBI storming the premises, runs after confessing to Brenda that he's lied to her about everything, but he loves her and wants to build a new life with her. He gives her enough money to buy a plane ticket in Miami, and asks her to run away with him in a few days. The FBI then enters the room where they were talking just as he hightails it out of the window. A heartbroken Brenda, who learns that her fiance was a teenager several years younger than her, is forced to cooperate with the FBI at the Miami International Airport to catch Frank, or else face prison time in turn. There is also the fact that he lied to her about who he was, which puts a damper on their relationship.
** After travelling around Europe and America committing large scale check fraud, Frank is eventually caught and thrown into a French HellHolePrison. He gets an IToldYouSo from Hanratty.
* RealPersonCameo: The real Frank Abagnale plays one of the French police officers who finally capture Frank.
* RecordNeedleScratch: We hear one in-universe when Frank comes back to the apartment while his mother is entertaining her new lover.
* ReformedCriminal: [[spoiler:Frank, at the end of the movie and in RealLife.]]
* RefugeInAudacity: The ''other'' half of the cons. Something Frank learned from his father plays into this as a bit of a RunningGag. "Why do the Yankees always win?" "Because the other teams are too busy looking at the damn pinstripes."
* RunningGag:
** "Two little mice..."
** "Even better."
** "Why do the Yankees always win?"
** "Is this yours?"
* SexyStewardess: To complete his impersonation of an airline pilot, Frank hires pretty young women to pose as flight attendants. He told the girls they had won an internship to train as stewardesses. He engineered the whole scheme in order to be able to enter an airport crammed with FBI agents looking for him and walk RightUnderTheirNoses - knowing that they would [[DistractedByTheSexy never notice him with all those beautiful, vivacious young girls surrounding him!]] And as a RefugeInAudacity, knowing that the FBI agents would never suspect the conman sneaking into the airport to be '''the most obvious freaking guy in the place'''.
* SherlockScan: A non-visual example in Hanratty being able to discern clues of Frank's whereabouts from his telephone calls; e.g. he figures out Frank's from New York from his mention of the Yankees, and that he's a kid from his use of the alias [[Comicbook/TheFlash Barry Allen]].
** Frank himself demonstrates a highly acute attention to detail throughout the film, starting with informing a classmate that her fake "note from mother" is missing a crease to be believable.
** When Carl brings his boss to see Frank in prison, they give him some samples of checks to test his ability to spot fakes. He barely glances at the first one before setting it aside and saying it's a fake. Carl's boss protests that he didn't even look at it, and Frank rattles off a resume of everything that's wrong with the check that disqualifies it from being real.
* TheSeventies: The last fifteen or so minutes of the film.
* TheSixties: The majority of the film.
* ShoutOut:
** The dollar floating under the door and fluttering like a feather past Tom Hanks is a nod to ''Film/ForrestGump''.
** Frank turns into a huge ''Film/JamesBond'' fan at the height of his pulling off his Pan Am pilot con game. (At one point early in his career, Spielberg wanted to direct a Bond movie). He even watches ''Film/{{Goldfinger}}'' at one point.
** When Frank first meets Hanratty, he is masquerading as law enforcement officer "Barry Allen", the alter ego of comic book superhero Franchise/TheFlash.
* {{Squick}}: In-Universe: When "Dr" Frank sees the young boy with a broken leg, bleeding, and moaning in pain, he is very squicked and has to hold it in until he gets the other doctors to diagnose the treatment before bolting out to throw-up.
* SympatheticInspectorAntagonist: Agent Carl Hanratty.
* TeenGenius: Frank.
* TitleDrop: Sort of. "You gotta catch me."
* TroubledButCute: Well, he's played by Leonardo [=DiCaprio=], isn't he?
** And Aaron Tveit
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: Besides throwing in the FreudianExcuse for Frank becoming a con-artist and counterfeiter, many details from Frank Abagnale Jr.'s life were altered or added in the film. Frank himself has said the movie was "about 80% accurate".
** He is depicted reaching out to his father in-between cons, whereas the actual Frank never saw or spoke to his father again after leaving home. This drastically changes Frank's motivation in the film. Frank's father is portrayed as a con man and an early inspiration for his son's criminal career. In fact his father was an honest man, and the victim of Frank's first scam. His relationship with his father is portrayed as having been so close that he can only stop his criminal lifestyle [[WellDoneSonGuy if his father wants him to]]. Instead, his father, still embittered over the lack of support he received when his business went under, [[AbusiveParents refuses and uses his son as a weapon to get back at the government]]. In reality, Frank continued his schemes simply because he was good at it, and because it was preferable to getting a hard-working job or going to jail.
** Frank is shown as an only child, when in real life he had three other siblings.
** Frank's quasi-friendship with Carl while Frank is on the run is entirely invented, although Frank and the agent who was chasing him did become friends after Frank was released from prison.
** Not surprisingly, Frank put a lot more effort into researching his roles than was shown in the movies. Many of the women he met, he loved for their minds. He also read medical texts and periodicals.
** Frank was not finally caught in France by any cunning FBI work. He had decided to lie low and begin a new law-abiding life in Montpellier, but he was recognized by an Air France stewardness (and former girlfriend) who was vacationing in the town and notified the police. His final recapture in America was also different. He was recognized by two New York City detectives after walking past their car, and they arrested him.
** After Frank's release from the appalling French jail he spent a year in a Swedish jail. It was a Swedish judge who helped him become repatriated to the US (to jail) so he wouldn't have to serve jail sentences in the many European countries who sought his extradition.
* VillainProtagonist: Frank Abagnale Jr., the protagonist, is an adrift and young counterfeiter and con man who uses his natural cleverness to make some money, and [[HeroAntagonist his antagonist]], Hanratty, is an FBI agent trying to, well, Catch Him if He Can. In the end Frank [[spoiler:with Hanratty's support eventually goes straight.]]
* VomitDiscretionShot: Happens when Frank is visibly sickened by the sight of the boy's broken leg in hospital, and throws up in the janitor's closet after leaving the emergency room.
* WhamLine: "Frank, your father is dead."
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse:
** What happened to Brenda after Frank had to leave her behind?
** What happened to those eight girls that Frank picked for the "Pan Am internship"?
* YouCantGoHomeAgain: From the moment he runs away, Frank's driving force is to rebuild his happy family. He finally realizes that he can never have that again when [[spoiler:he learns is father has died, and his mother has moved on with a new family. He finally stops running and allows Carl to take him in without a fight.]]
* YouKeepUsingThatWord: "Concur". Frank drops it in a conversation with one of the other doctors at the hospital, just because he thinks "Do you concur?" is a question that all doctors are supposed to ask each other. The word really just means "agree".
-->''(Frank watches a medical drama on television)''\\
'''Doctor 1''': Do you concur?\\
'''Doctor 2''': I concur!\\
''(later, when Frank is called in to respond to an emergency at the hospital)''\\
'''Frank''': Gentlemen. What, uh...what seems to be the problem here?\\
'''Ashland''': Bicycle accident. Fractured tibia, about five inches below the patella.\\
'''Frank''': I see. ''({{beat}})'' Dr. Harris? Do you concur?\\
'''Harris''': Concur with what, sir?\\
'''Frank''': With what Dr. Ashland just said. Do you...do you concur?\\
'''Harris''': Well... It was a bicycle accident. The boy told us.\\
'''Frank''': So you concur.\\
'''Harris''': "Concur"?
* YoungerThanTheyLook: A key factor in how Abagnale was able to pull off his scams.