With essential symbolism, the pivotal moment in Catwoman comes when a beautiful young commercial artist named Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) finds herself at the mercy of merciless bad guys, flees into an industrial waste pipe the size of a jetway and gets herself ever so disadvantageously flushed. Should you momentarily be motivated by the idea of seeing this movie, treat such a notion with a comparable hydrodynamic solution. Whoosh.

Credited to the congress of writers -- Bob Kane, who is (ir)responsible for the characters; Theresa Rebeck, who gets a story credit; John Rogers, who gets a screenplay acknowledgment, and John Brancato and Michael Ferris, who earn story and screenplay credit both -- Catwoman is directed by the uninymous Pitof, an anagram for Of(f)tip and clearly not a moniker employed to hold an actual human accountable. The film is about drop-dead cheekbones, panting cleavage, smooth skin, taut belly, winking navel and legs all the way down to there. Grrrrr. In short the film is about deck the (movie) halls with bows of Halle. Falla lala la, lala, la, la. She's on all fours; we say golly. Halle lalala, lala, la la.

OK. Dull and listless as it is, the story in Catwoman is about this shy young woman who has an art degree and yearns to be a painter while supporting herself doing ad designs for a cosmetics company. She's as gorgeous as only Halle Berry can be with soft, shoulder-length, curly brown hair, but she has the mysterious self-confidence of a 10th-grade wallflower. Why our Patience would be assigned the conceptual lead on her company's new marketing campaign is as understandable as New Coke.

If you need to call the idea contrived, please be my guest. Anyway, trying to deliver her new one-sheets at the improbably required hour of midnight, Patience just happens to overhear the company research-and-development officer confess some concerns about his new product. Seems his new skin cream is addictive, causes headaches, nausea and fainting, and, oh by the way, makes one's skin either a) hard as marble or b) appear to have endured a close encounter with a blow torch. Jeeez, should they maybe pull it off the market? Startling noise. Patience is discovered. Run. Chase. Hide. Flush.

New movie.

In the new movie Patience is dead. Then an Egyptian kitty with ties to Cleopatra gives her artificial respiration with the cat breath of reincarnation. Some wise counsel from the (sound-it-out) gura Ophelia Powers (Frances Conroy) and voila: Catwoman. Looks like Patience. Acts like Donna the Dominatrix. Leather push 'em up bra. Spiked heels. Bikini tight over mesh what-ya-see. Whip when she needs it. Karate chop when she doesn't. She ain't got a clue who she is, but she's mad as hell and might as well kick some ass as just eat Wheaties. Likes that tuna: mega cans. Snarfs that sushi: all you can eat. Sleeps on a shelf. Lands on her feet.

Here come da feline. Rude, noisy bikers across the way? How about some of my heel callus upside your nose, Harley Grease Smear. And that's just for the get-go. How much is that utterly irrelevant baubly in the window? Surely enough to whip butt those shot-gun-toting jewel thieves about to make it theirs rather than mine. Whack. Thunk. Crunch. Triumph strut! Almost forgot, this is a flick about skin-cream crooks. So what about the boss's body guard? Hisssssss! A purrrrrrfect punching bag.

But wait, don't I look soft and feminine? I need the Eartha kit. No curls for this girl. I dare to helmet hair. Meow. Now, I'm bitchin' ready to scratch your back before you scratch mine.

But damn if I don't love the cop whose job it is to put me in jail for crimes I didn't even commit but would have if I'd only had a chance. Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt) is mixed ethnic just like me. And his name is an anagram for Let Moon, and frankly that's just sexier than I can stand. On the other hand, he needs his ass kicked like just about everybody else. Kick ass. Stop. Whip ass. Stop. Darn. Cute ass. Hug. Kiss. Snuggle. Feel emotion. Get naked. Cut to next scene.

Wrap this crap up. That's right. We haven't dealt with the skin-cream creeps, and we've been going on for nearly two hours. OK. Owner Georges Hedare (Lambert Wilson) is a philandering Kenneth Lay Simon Legree. His product-slathering wife Laurel (Sharon Stone) is Medusa Clytemnestra. He's dead. Patience is blamed. Tom Lone is confounded. And it's time for the cat fight of the epoch. Catwoman: the irresistible force and Laurel Hedare (anagram for Real Hard Eel), the immovable object. Whack. Thunk. Crunch. Strut cubed. My nine lives trump your (Sharon) stone noggin. Somewhere in there the damsel saves the hero in distress. Something, I guess. But not much. Fade to black. Praises to glory be that all things pass, including this movie.

Cat fight: Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone) starts to claw away at her prey (Halle Berry) in Catwoman.
  • Cat fight: Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone) starts to claw away at her prey (Halle Berry) in Catwoman.

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