ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Catch Me If You Can (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: December 25, 2002
CAP Score: 47
CAP Influence Density: 0.95

MinMax: -76

Catch Me If You Can (2002) CAP Mini-thermometers

ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents).

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (PG-13) -- "R-13" to be sure.

Production: Amblin Entertainment, Bungalow 78 Productions, DreamWorks SKG, Kemp Company, Magellin Entertainment, Parkes/MacDonald, Splendid Pictures Inc.
Distribution: DreamWorks Distribution LLC
Director(s): Steven Spielberg
Producer(s): Barry Kemp, Daniel Lupi, Laurie MacDonald, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Devorah Moos-Hankin, Walter F. Parkes, Anthony Romano, Michel Shane, Steven Spielberg
Written by/Screenplay: Frank Abagnale Jr. (book), Stan Redding (book), Jeff Nathanson (screenplay)
Cinematography/Camera: Janusz Kaminski
Music: John Williams
Film Editing: Michael Kahn
Casting: Debra Zane
Production Design: Jeannine Claudia Oppewall
Art Direction: Sarah Knowles, Michele Laliberte, Peter Rogness

Wow! A "R-13" to be certain. And not just because of the CAP final score of 47 (scoring range for PG-13 is 55 to 67 out of 100, R is 54 and below). Intercourse, repeatedly. Once with partial female nudity. [1Cor. 6:18] God's name in vain with the four letter expletive seven times and four without [Deut. 5:11]. Eleven uses of the three four letter word vocabulary. "R-13" to be sure.

Frank William Abagnale, Sr. (Christopher Walken) taught his son, Frank William, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) well. How to cheat, lie and steal well anyway [Luke 17:2]. Frank Sr.. is in trouble with the IRS for tax evasion. Frank Sr's wife, Paula ( is in trouble with him for adultery with the president of his club (James Brolin). Frank, Jr. is soon to be in trouble.

Striking out on his own to find enough money to repair the broken marriage between his father and mother, Frank Jr. first decides to become an airline pilot. Now this is back in 1963 when Frank is about 16 years old. This is when airline pilots were held in such esteem that their autographs were sought by young and old alike. What better way to break into fraud than by impersonating an airline pilot? They are respected and rarely questioned. Successfully impersonating a co-pilot, Frank forges payroll checks to support his habit. And he victimizes a stewardess (yes, they were stewardesses then).

Let's take a moment to revisit the first sentence of the paragraph above. This guy is embarking on a criminal career for money [Hab. 2:12] even though it be to restore a broken marriage. The Bible speaks to he who steals because he is hungry (and maybe it goes without saying, to feed his family) is to be punished but not despised [Prov 6:30 - 31]. Maybe that, or superb perceptual manipulation of the filmmakers, is why there was a tendency to root for bad guy Frank. It was obvious in the audience. Or is there something else afoot in their rooting for the bad guy? Eccl. 8:11?

Getting close to being discovered, Frank assumes the personage of a substitute teacher who is a late for class. He teaches French. How convenient since his mother is French. When the official substitute French teacher does arrive, Frank has the class performing as students should and dismisses the substitute teacher. Once caught, Frank Sr.., actually applauds his son's ingenuity.

Next frank becomes a doctor and becomes the supervising physician of a hospital emergency department by forging a diploma and resumé. There he victimizes a nurse, Brenda Strong (Amy Adams) as she tries to recover from a chewing out by a doctor. Indeed, Brenda does her part in "victimizing" him. She literally and hungrily climbs on top of him in his office, implying nymphomania. Brenda was kicked out of her Lutheran home for aborting a baby. Her father, Roger Strong (Martin Sheen) was a prosecutor with extreme ethics and values.

Regarding the behavior of Adams and DiCaprio, consider the following:

"In a study reported to the 1986 Attorney General's Commission on Pornography by Dr. Jennings Bryant, 600 American males and females of high school age and above were interviewed about their "out in real life involvement with pornography." He found that 91% of the males and 82% of the females admitted having been exposed to X-rated, hard-core pornography. Two-thirds of the males and 40% of the females reported wanting to try out some of the behaviors they had witnessed. And, among high school students, 31% of males and 18% of the females admitted doing some of the things sexually they had seen in the pornography within a few days after exposure. This clearly suggests the modeling-effect or imitative-learning effect, as well as "triggering effect," [I call it emboldenment and desensitization - TC] that even non-violent pornography has on human sexual behavior in some individuals."

Well, now. Sort of says something about mimicking that which is seen in and as entertainment, doesn't it? The Adams/DiCaprio scenario of sexual frenzy may not be X-rated, hard-core pornography in the strictest sense, but what difference does it make to an 18 year, 9 month commitment as the result of "doing some of the things sexually they had seen." Focus! This movie is PG-13! And for even the ones who see this movie but can't even spell "sexual" yet, they certainly have been given an idea on what to do when they can.

Frank wanted Brenda, the nurse whom he victimized - er - was victimi... - er - whatever. Brenda's dad was a lawyer. Frank decided to become a lawyer . After successfully passing the bar exams, Brenda's father, Roger hired Frank as the assistant prosecutor.

Frank even impersonated 007.

Freckled throughout all this is Frank forging checks, committing check fraud and a few other illegal maneuvers to finance his escapades. Also freckled through out all this was FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), chasing Frank. I thought for sure the movie had his name "Handratty." Even Hanks pronoounced it with a "d" in it. But Internet Movie Database ( says "Hanratty." Note that I read Hanratty is as fake as Abagnale's impersonations. That Hanratty was inserted into the story to provide a placeholder for the involvement of a great number of FBI agents. Any confirmations or denials?

Note also, mom/dad that there was quite a bit of drinking by actors/actresses portraying teens in this movie for 13 year old teens. The perfect target for the findings made by the American College of Physicians:

A recent study revealed that adolescent exposure to drinking and smoking in entertainment leads to an undeniable increase in alcohol and tobacco abuse. The finding entitled Relation Between Parental Restrictions on Movies and Adolescent Use of Tobacco and Alcohol reports that of 4544 youths from grades 5 through 8 of fifteen Vermont and New Hampshire middle schools (90% were under fourteen years old) only 16% were completely restricted from viewing R-rated movies. The report further states the prevalence of having tried smoking without parental knowledge was 35% for those with no restrictions on viewing R-rated movies, 12% for those with partial restrictions, and two percent for those with complete restrictions. The prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was 46% for those with no restrictions, 16% for those with partial restrictions and four percent for those with complete restrictions.

The target entertainment was R-rated movies because of the increase in alcohol consumption over less severely rated movies. But the target finding is still intact regarding this PG-13 movie since the issue is the effect of drinking in entertainment on adolescents. And 13 years old are about as adolescent as age can get. Smack dab in the middle of the after-toddler, before-adult age range. Rather revealing of the influences of the entertainment industry wouldn't you say? [Luke 1:15]

By the way, this story involves a couple Christmas seasons but I cannot rightfully claim "Christmas without Jesus" since one of the songs was "O' Come [Let Us Adore Him}." And "Christ the Lord" was in the song.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • 1Cor. 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain [shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity]: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it.]
  • Hab. 2:12 Woe to him who builds a city [a place guarded by waking or a watch] with bloodshed and establishes a town [a collective such as a city, mob, gang or regime] by crime! [The 'city' or 'town' could even be wealth.]
  • Prov. 6:30 - 31 Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving [or to restore his family?]. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house.
  • Eccl. 8:11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong. [As in root for the bad guy?]
  • Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. [Speaking is the angel that appeared to Zechariah, promising Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth a son - John the Baptist, but it also says that not drinking aloholic beverages at all will find favor in the eyes of the Lord. Though it is not a sin to drink, God knows of our tendency to excess. And the "strong drink" of Jesus' day was less potent than our dry wine. What does that say about our liquor of up to 75% alcohol?]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it]. [I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Catch Me If You Can (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • check fraud, repeatedly, many
  • using false identification, repeatedly
  • firearms, repeatedly (none discharged)
  • reckless driving

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • ten uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words
  • lies, repeatedly, many
  • deceit for gain, repeatedly
  • father encouraging son's deceit, repeatedly
  • divorce
  • son's disrespect toward mom

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • adultery
  • intercourse with upper female nudity
  • sex talk
  • open mouth kissing
  • offer of sex in prostitution
  • intercourse (off screen)
  • implied intercourse
  • actor/actress in underwear, repeatedly
  • male/female in bed
  • sexual aggression, repeatedly
  • many women in bikinis clearly for show

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • booze
  • teen drinking, many, at least twice
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • bar, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • eleven uses of God's name in vain, seven with the four letter expletive

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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