Dec 30, 2002

Catch Me if You Can

The trickster is the most popular of all characters. In Catch Me If You Can, the con-man character generates a number of fun scenes. But the script has no idea how to tie them together.

This movie uses the James Bond approach. But instead of stringing stunts, it strings cons.

The writer makes some attempts to build a story. First, he tries to give some psychological foundation to what's happening by showing the failure of the hero's father. But it is unconvincing and way too long.

The writer also uses a framing device to kick the story up a notch. We begin with the capture of the hero, then flash back. But this frame gives us no new information about the story or the character, and only removes what little suspense we might have had about whether our con-man might escape.

One of the main ways you build a story is by having a main thematic line that is expressed through the need of the main character. This character is a teen-age boy who seems to con just because he is good at it and likes money and women. And no one seems to be getting hurt by it. So the cons don't lead to a more complex web of design or destruction. And with no need, it doesn't matter if the hero changes.

Without a theme or a point, all the story can do is come to an abrupt halt. The writer tries to set up a climactic ending by making us wonder if the hero will come back to work for the FBI. But it's never been set up, so it comes across as fake drama.

The main lesson from this movie is: the trickster character is more difficult to write than he appears. He seems to be so much fun that there seems no reason for him to change and do something else. That may give you some enjoyable scenes, but you can't build the story.