The Best Con Artist Classic Of An Entire Decade, Stream Without Netflix

By TeeJay Small | Updated

Steven Spielberg is one of the biggest names in the history of cinema, with dozens of directing credits under his belt, and nearly 200 credits as a producer. While not every single one of his projects has stood the test of time, you’d be hard-pressed to find higher highs in any other filmmaker’s catalog. One of his best films of the 2000s, Catch Me If You Can, is currently available to stream on Paramount+, just in case you need a brief crash course on how effective Spielberg’s filmmaking truly is.

Catch Me If You Can Is The Ultimate Long-Con

Catch Me If You Can was written by The Lion King (2019) screenwriter Jeff Nathanson, based off the autobiography of the real American con man Frank Abagnale Jr. In recent years, Abagnale has been said to have conflated or outright lied about most of the fantastical stories in his book, meaning the greatest con of all may be that he got this film made in the first place.

Rights to his life story were originally purchased by Columbia Pictures in the 1980s, though the opportunity changed hands numerous times before eventually landing with Steven Spielberg at Paramount Pictures.

An Ensemble Like No Other

After going through numerous casting and director changes, the final film wound up with an all-star ensemble of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, James Brolin, and Amy Adams. The Sopranos‘ James Gandolfini was originally tapped for Tom Hanks’ role in Catch Me If You Can, though he eventually had to drop the project as it conflicted with his shooting schedule for the prestige HBO series. This casting change would certainly have made Catch Me If You Can a completely different film, as Hanks’ straight-laced but relatable performance is part of what grounds the film.

Starts With Minor-League Scams

Catch Me If You Can Leonardo DiCaprio

The plot of Catch Me If You Can centers on a teenage Frank Abagnale Jr as he adjusts to a major lifestyle change. The Abagnale’s previously lived lavishly, though Frank Sr.’s infractions with the IRS see the family falling on hard financial times, forcing them to downsize to a tiny apartment in a poor neighborhood, and eventually divorce. Distraught by the divorce, and the realization that his mother is cheating on his father with another man, Frank Jr. runs away from home, only to turn to minor-league scams in order to support himself on the streets.

Small Scams Beget Large Ones

Catch Me If You Can

Abagnale’s scams start small, though his natural inclination toward fooling people causes him to grow increasingly bolder, until he takes on the identity of an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, eventually forging millions of dollars worth of fake checks and traveling the world.

As the FBI becomes aware of Abagnale’s crimes, a unit headed by Agent Carl Hanratty begins feverishly digging into his identity, falling behind him at each turn. As Catch Me If You Can progresses, Frank and Carl wind up forming something of a cat and mouse bond, and even grow to work together to fight other high-profile forgeries after Frank is eventually caught.

Lies Make For Better Storytelling

Catch Me If You Can Leonardo DiCaprio


As stated, it’s highly unlikely that Abagnale really pulled off all these schemes as he claimed, though you have to admit, a few adventurous lies is a small price to pay in order to see yourself portrayed on the big screen by Leonardo DiCaprio. Regardless, Catch Me If You Can is an incredibly well-made movie, which touts some of the best performances of DiCaprio and Tom Hanks‘ respective careers. If you’d like to stream Catch Me If You Can today, the film is available to view on Paramount+.