Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 01/17/05 17:13:53

"Wow. I just... I mean... WOW. I... um... huh. Yeah. Someone made this."
1 stars (Sucks)

Sweet holy mother fudge buckets, “Catwoman” is even dumber than I possibly could have imagined. As comic book movie bombs go, it’s not nearly as awful as “Batman & Robin,” but it’s worse off than, say, “Steel.” So you can see we’re in a fairly terrible area here.

Oh, and it’s directed by someone named “Pitof,” and how I wish I were kidding. Pitof is the kind of name given to a prissy fashion designer or other ridiculously pretentious artist, and every time I hear the name, I envision Will Ferrell in “Zoolander.” Pitof knows nothing about movie direction, but he can sure make Halle Berry look sizzling in leather! (Pitof is in reality a former visual effects dude who has worked on such projects as “Alien Resurrection” and “The City of Lost Children.” But the fashion designer angle is funnier, isn’t it?)

The biggest problem with the movie is that it’s locked in a paradox of trying to distance itself from its comic book roots yet keep a comic book plot. The title character, played by Berry, is not Selina Kyle, the expert cat burglar of the Batman legend, but some mousy advertising artist named Patience Phillips. Her origin tale is lifted not out of the funny books but from the reworking the Selena character got in Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns:” Patience inadvertently runs into her boss late at night, uncovering said boss’ criminal doings, getting good and killed for her discovery. She’s found by a bunch of cats and is somehow returned to life, complete with a bold new personality. She now has many behaviors of a cat, which includes scratching up the couch, sitting on your newspaper when you’re trying to read it, and peeing on the drapes.

Anyway. Patience works for a cosmetics company that’s about to release a highly toxic, highly addictive skin cream, and so our new hero (more on that in a minute) spends the rest of the picture avenging her own murder (crap, another movie reminding me of that overrated assfest “The Crow”) and fighting cosmetics mogul Sharon Stone (!) and her hubby, Lambert Wilson (the Merovingian himself), whom we know is the bad guy because he is British.

Back to that “hero” thing. The character of Catwoman has always been that of a villain, the thief with a decent heart who in later years went on to become a kind of reluctant hero, or, at least, a criminal who fought worse criminals. The movie has no idea how to handle this sort of complex character - it wants to make Catwoman a pure hero, but how? So we get some sloppily written nonsense about how Patience is overcome by her new Catwoman persona to steal a bunch of jewelry (stopping other crooks in the process), but then she returns the goods the next morning - with cupcakes!!! - once she awakens as Patience and realizes what she’s done.

Oh, and what of Sally (Alex Borstein), Patience’s overly cute best friend? In a completely useless subplot, she lands in the hospital after taking too much skin cream makes her pass out (one of the side effects of the addictive lotion). Point one: the cream is so toxic that once you stop using it, your skin disintegrates. We see this happen to one character - but it never happens to Sally. Why? Because we like her, I suppose, or maybe the writers just forgot about it.

Point two: When Sally calls Patience from the hospital, she’s not calling from her room, but instead from the nurse’s station. I have no point to this other than what the frick?

The rest of the plot is rounded out with an appearance by Benjamin Bratt as the sexy cop hot on Catwoman’s trail. Oh, and this cop is also dating Patience, making him the dumbest cop on the planet. It takes analysis of a lipstick mark to prove the two are the same person - instead of the many times he sees both up close, complete with conversation. Dude, when your girlfriend’s brand new haircut looks exactly like Catwoman’s brand new haircut, that’s a good clue right there, don’tcha think?

Hot damn, this has to be the dumbest movie I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve seen “Torque.” Its plotting is a mess of half-formed ideas, its acting atrocious (Stone seems to be the only one who realizes she’s in a bad movie - and she still gives a lousy performance!), the script downright laughable (watch for the ferris wheel scene, the silliest Bad Movie moment of the year, while “You hear that? It’s called silence!” wins for doofiest snippet of dialogue), and the direction - oh sweet gravy, the direction. Pitof’s idea of directing is to make the cast look fabulous!, and then to just use a whole lot of overblown editing to hide the fact that every action sequence is so poorly staged that they lack a single thrill.

This is incompetent storytelling combined with an ignorant attempt to create a summer comic book blockbuster. It would be an insult to comic books everywhere - if it weren’t so completely hilarious. So hats off to “Catwoman,” this year’s Queen of Dumb.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.