I knew I was in for an unprecedented summer crapfest when I encountered a goddamn retard before ever setting foot in the theater. No, not the typical American numbskull out to kill an afternoon, but an honest to goodness retard. While I waited in line behind him, the poor sap tried to buy a ticket for something he insisted was called Robot One, which I will assume was Will Smith’s latest stinker. The guy behind the glass also seemed to understand, but as he too recognized this mentally crippled dolt for what he was, he gleefully fucked with him just long enough to bring a smile to his (and my) face. Little did I know that for the next two hours, that would be the single source of pleasure, joy, or even accidental entertainment. With Catwoman, arguably (if one wanted to argue — I don’t) the worst film of the year, I have now declared an end to my participation in Halle Berry’s career. Monster’s Ball was clearly her moment in the sun, and with this comic book experience (as well as her X-Men X-ploits), she has demonstrated for all the world that she will no longer pursue scripts that aren’t scrawled in crayon on a Big Chief Indian tablet. As sexy as she is, any credibility she built up as a result of her Oscar-winning turn is forever lost. All that remains for her to do is some cheesy sitcom on UPN.
And now to the film itself, directed by something called Pitof, who may or may not be a cousin of McG, who at last report was still working. I have a theory about these Madonna/Cher/Roseanne wannabes: they don’t really exist as flesh-and-blood people. As shit like Catwoman is completely devoid of human feeling, it is no stretch to believe that it was crafted and conceived by computer, with “Pitof” being nothing more than an acronym for all the geeks who designed the program that spewed out this filth. But once I saw that ridiculous name in the opening credits, I knew that I was about to witness the sort of film directed as if the filmmaker were being paid by the edit. The camera swooped, flew, and screeched about so often and with such intensity that there were only brief, fleeting moments where I knew what in the fuck was going on. Outside of being the style of a schizophrenic on coke, it helps disguise the CGI images, which all but swallow this film whole. Slow it down for even one second and we might realize that we’ve paid ten bucks to stare at a video game for 104 minutes. And so we have rain, darkness, creepy warehouses and alleys not to evoke feelings of film noir, but instead to confuse the hell out of an audience that is already predisposed to be easily distracted by noise and flash.
One such gentleman sat right in front of me and despite the darkness of the theater, I had to turn away in shame on several occasions. Sitting alone — almost certainly not for the first time — this guy acted as if he were watching a mud-wrestling match between big-chested porn stars. He whistled, roared, repeated lines, and applauded at least twice, most loudly when Berry’s character told off her boss. And whenever Berry appeared in full leather attire, I thought he might start masturbating right there in the theater. The only thing that stopped him was his obvious affinity for men of his own persuasion. I’m not sure where people like this come from, or what doesn’t entertain them, but I’m starting to believe that they only come to my screenings. While I have no proof, I suspect that he went straight from this film to his own viewing of Robot One.
Okay, I guess I can tell you about the film now. If you insist. Berry is Patience Phillips, a meek “artist” who is suffering through a less than stellar job as an ad designer for a major cosmetics firm, run of course by Sharon Stone. The has-been psychopath (Stone, not Berry) plays Laurel Hedare, the evil genius behind a plan to bring a beauty crème to market that (gasp!) eats away flesh and causes nausea and dizziness if its use is discontinued. She’s aided in the scheme by her nasty husband George, although he is shot in the end by Laurel so that she can take over the empire and frame Catwoman at the same time. If it seems like I’m getting ahead of myself, do not be alarmed. With a story as uninspired as this one — even for a comic book movie — any sort of order is irrelevant. So how did the submissive Patience become Catwoman? While attempting to turn in some artwork for the latest campaign (she has a firm midnight deadline), she stumbles across the plan, wherein a scientist admits that the crème is toxic and will harm millions of women. Patience is seen, chased around the warehouse, and then killed after Mr. Hedare flushes her away via the waste disposal system (don’t ask dude, she just dies). Patience washes ashore — dead as a doornail — and is revived by a magical Egyptian Mau (that’s a cat) who breathes on her face. Given that cat breath usually smells like old, decaying ass, I’m not sure how this occurred. But as we come to learn from a scary cat lady who takes Patience under her wing, the cat is bestowing ancient powers on her so that she may know the truth — “Freedom is power.” Whatever, just show me Berry in that S&M outfit.
As expected, there are complications. Patience has fallen for hunky cop Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt), who is conveniently investigating the “crimes” that have been committed by Catwoman. No kudos for guessing that Tom will think Catwoman is guilty of murder, only to be proven wrong after Laurel engages in a bit of the old “Talking Killer” and spills the beans. But before Tom questions his love, he romances the newly assertive Patience, even hitting the sheets, after which he nurses some scratches on his back. Of course, with that vile PG-13 rating, we are denied the sweaty sex, which might have redeemed the whole affair. It’s the hypocrisy of the MPAA that teenagers can’t watch two adults have sex, yet can drool over a chick who has been reduced to her heaving bosom. Still, I’m sure the filmmakers would argue that the whole Catwoman concept is about female empowerment, much in the same way that we were asked to accept the Spice Girls as feminist role models. It might be “strong” and “independent” to kick a little ass now and again, but can we expect someone like Camryn Manheim to star in the sequel? Of course not. Firm asses and glistening tits sell tickets, so shut the fuck up. It’s a dubious lesson indeed when we are expected to feel sympathy for a woman of Halle Berry’s beauty.
But who cares, right? This film sucks hairy ass for more than its sexist politics. At bottom, it’s not even fun, as the fight scenes are poorly staged and crushing in their dullness. Even the final confrontation between Berry and Stone is a big fucking snoozer, as we listen to painful dialogue land with a thud:
Stone: “Game over.”
Berry: “Guess what? It’s overtime!”
A slight, barely audible chuckle escaped my lips as Stone fell from a skyscraper, however, if only because it looked like she was performing jumping jacks on the way down. And after crashing through glass and hitting the ground full speed, a close-up of her corpse reveals not only a curious lack of blood, but an overall body that appears to have just slipped from the tub and onto a warm rug. C’mon, Pitof, no twisted limbs or shattered skulls? That’s right, the PG-13 again. Bad people surely die, but not badly. Another great lesson for the kids. As I left the theater, exhausted and embarrassed, I wondered how the retard enjoyed his afternoon at the movies. A tear-filled, slobbering, piss-your-pants experience, no doubt. But as that will also be his bus ride home and every evening thereafter, I can’t say I envy him.