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Coughing up a hairball

Movies | Halle Berry's lines are so lame that she cannot even deliver the repartee ("Cat got your tongue?") without self-conscious awkwardness

Issue: "Democrats are all smiles," Aug. 7, 2004

Some say the old Batman TV show, in which Julie Newmar's Catwoman was a favorite nemesis, was so bad that it was good. The new Catwoman (PG-13) movie, though, does not make it nearly that far.

With no Batman connection at all, this version has Halle Berry as a shy, put-upon-shall we say mousy?-office worker. She drowns and receives artificial respiration from a cat. Whereupon she starts chasing bugs, sleeping on the shelf, hissing at dogs, prancing on the furniture, and eating tuna fish out of a can. (This sounds funnier than it is in the movie.)

She learns that she has cat-like powers-super strength, super speed, and the ability to climb walls and jump from building to building (but can cats really do all of that?)-and takes on an evil cosmetics manufacturer and his evil wife (Sharon Stone), who is mad because the company dumped her as its spokesmodel after she turned 40. The cosmetics make women's faces look younger, but if they ever stop using it, they turn hideously ugly. This ensures repeat customers for the evil corporation.

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Ms. Berry is an Oscar-winning actress, but her lines are so lame that she cannot even deliver the repartee ("Cat got your tongue?") without self-conscious awkwardness. The attempt at feminism-too much emphasis is put on a woman's looks!-is ludicrously contradicted by the film's preoccupation with Ms. Berry flouncing around in her leather bikini.

Cultural observation: Now that homosexuality is acceptable in the pop culture, the next trendy perversion-already showing up in music videos, sitcoms, and R-rated movies-is sadomasochism. Thus, we have Catwoman in full dominatrix gear-black leather, mask, stilleto boots-with a hard look and wielding a bullwhip. Only those who enjoy torture-like what cats do to small animals-will appreciate this movie.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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