When actions speak louder then words, the film unfolds. In the beginning of the film, the viewer becomes aware that his father, Frank Sr., is a huge role model for him and becomes the source of Frank’s longing for acceptance and appreciation. Frank idolizes his father no matter what, and acquires significant tricks and knowledge from him that he then puts to use in the future.
As the film moves along the viewer gets a look at what Franks life is like growing up in a stable upper/middle class life. Frank encounters a traumatic moment when he stumbles upon his mom cheating on his father and then his mother bribing him with money to feel better, both future motivations for Franks running and views on money.
Once his parents are divorced Frank wants everything to be okay and to have the perfect family back together, no matter the cost. In his eyes, his father just needs to win his mother back with a better life and material things, another motivation, when in reality, the relationship has been over for quite some time, a truth made clearly evident by his mother’s affair. Unable to deal with the stress of choosing which parent to live with, Frank runs away and soon realizes he needs to find a way to make money quickly. Early on in the film the viewer gets a taste of where Franks techniques originate from.
We learn that Frank Sr owned a stationary store which sold paper for different types of cheques, giving Frank the ability to distinguish different types of paper, and know the machines he's going to have to use in the future. Franks very first impersonation was along side his dad, when he posed as his chauffeur, this then gives Frank the idea to then later impersonate a substitute teacher at his new school which he gets away with for a week. Eventually Frank becomes confident in his abilities to fool many people and becomes a very cunning, charming and convincing young man.
He first begins to create fake cheques at different banks, scamming them out of hundreds of dollars and eventually realizing he needs to find a different way to bring in a steady cash flow. He decides to therefore impersonate a pilot for Pan Am Airlines as a “deadhead” who is a backup pilot and therefore does no actual flying on the plane. Meanwhile the FBI’s fraud division has caught on to Frank’s scams and begins to track him down with one detective leading the investigation: Carl Hanratty, a determined, tenacious character who loves his job. It becomes Carl’s personal goal to find Frank with little to no support from the rest of the FBI.
Frank continues to scam his way across the country becoming a doctor and a lawyer and even getting married. But what is it that keeps him going? Throughout the film there are a few moments where the viewers are able to truly get into the head of Frank and try to understand why he continues to flee. For example, there are two scenes where Frank has lunch with his dad while he's still being chased. In the first, Frank is still a deadhead for Pan Am, we see that Frank is trying to demonstrate that he has money to his father by buying him a cadillac.
Frank Sr, is very impressed by his kind actions and is proud of his son, this gives Frank Jr the feeling that what he is doing is right and therefore motivates him to continue so he can continue to impress and provide for his father and perhaps fix the relationship between his parents. In the second meeting with his father the viewer quickly catches on to the more sour feel of the meeting. Frank Jr appears to be upset as his father has by now caught on to what he is doing, he then asks his father to tell him to stop, to which his father replies; you cant stop. Hearing those words enrages Frank and empowers him to keep going even more.
Frank keeps going until finally he is arrested and put in a french prison where Hanratty comes to bring him back to the United States. Back in in the U. S Frank tries one last time to escape and runs all the way to his old home where he sees his mother in the window and her new child. Frank sees that he is no longer his mothers child and finally stops, realizing he can never again unify his family and that he has nowhere to run to anymore. Conversely at the end of the film the viewers learn that Hanratty is able to give Frank a job in the FBI cheque freud division, taking him out of jail.
In conclusion what Frank Abagnale Jr is running to is the hope that one day he could find a way of fixing and unifying the broken family that was once so happy and in love. Consequently, Frank is also running from the idea that he will not be able to achieve this and the more obvious reasons like getting caught by Hanratty and being sent to jail. All in all, this film is a great movie showing the huge importance of family in a kids life and giving people the notion that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.