Tom Hanks’ Strangest Film Based On A True Story Is Now A Streaming Success

Tom Hanks stars in Catch Me If You Can, a story about a real-life con artist, and the film is a streaming hit on HBO Max.

By Melissa Murphy | Updated

Tom Hanks
Catch Me If You Can

Since its 2002 release, Catch Me If You Can, starring Tom Hanks, has become a fan favorite. Recently, many long-time fans have been revisiting the actor’s stunning performance in the film, catapulting it to the number nine slot for top streamed movies on HBO Max this week, according to FlixPatrol. The film, based on a questionably true story, has been riveting viewers for over two decades. 

The cast list comes with a star-studded lineup. Tom Hanks (Carl Hanratty) stars in the film alongside Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank Abagnale Jr.), setting the movie up for success. Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Nathalie Baye, Amy Adams, and James Brolin are all also seen in the film, directed by the masterful Steven Spielberg

Catch Me If You Can follows young Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he tries to make something of himself. The man builds his fortune by taking on multiple false identities, impersonating a pilot, doctor, and lawyer, and forging checks to make millions. When the FBI catches wind of his cons, they send Agent Carl Hanratty to stop him, and the two start a daring back and forth in attempts to outwit the other.

The film is sensational and, despite being released back in 2002, remains a great watch to this day. The riveting plot and stellar acting keep viewers glued to their seats throughout the nearly two-and-a-half-hour runtime. It’s no wonder why the film has made a comeback over two decades after its initial release.

Catch Me If You Can was met with critical acclaim and grossed over $300 million worldwide at the box office, making it one of Tom Hanks’ biggest hits, and the eleventh highest-grossing film in 2002. Critics gave the movie lavish praise, noting it had an entertaining plotline, a talented cast, and a wonderful score. Fans found the film to be hilarious without being pretentious.

Many are surprised to learn that Tom Hanks’ Catch Me If You Can is based on a true story. Frank Abagnale Jr. was a real person who wrote a book about his life. Allegedly, the man posed as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, and a professor during the ’60s and ’70s. He also reportedly cashed more than $2 million in bad checks. 

In 1980, Abagnale sold the rights to his book. Even though he did not have any direct involvement in the film’s creation, he noted that Steven Spielberg was the only director he trusted to tell his story. Even with multiple deviations from the man’s life, he was still happy with the film’s outcome, hoping only that it would portray family and childhood themes while still entertaining and funny. 

leonardo dicaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can

While Tom Hanks’ Catch Me If You Can follows a thrilling story of a cat-and-mouse chase, Abagnale’s real life deviated somewhat. He was arrested multiple times throughout the 1960s and spent a year in the United States Navy. In the movie, Frank cashes millions of dollars from Pan American, but in real life, Abagnale allegedly cashed just 10 checks from the airline, totaling only $1,500. 

Many question the validity of Frank’s unusual story, but are happy that his book was able to inspire the masterpiece that is Tom Hanks’ Catch Me If You Can. You can watch the movie right now on HBO Max.