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'Catwoman' is so bad that Halle Berry and Sharon Stone should apologize immediately

A few months ago, the first picture of Halle Berry in her Catwoman suit started making the rounds on the Internet. She was dressed in a tacky, torn leather outfit, topped off with an asinine cat mask that a kindergartner would be embarrassed to wear at a Halloween party. Comic-book geeks and movie freaks prayed that the initial viewing was a hoax, something concocted by a severely warped person on their Dell.

When the picture started showing up in reputable magazines, the fate of Catwoman the movie was clear: It was going to blow mightily.

It was clear from the get-go that Warner Brothers and director Pilaf, excuse me, Pitof had no clue what they were doing with the potential franchise starring the Oscar-winning actress. We knew that Catwoman would stink; it was just a question of how much it would stink. Would it stink enough to make beholders simply pinch their noses, say "Phew!" and walk out irritated that $9 had been spent on a bunch of Berry butt shots that are no better than freeze frames of Monster's Ball? Or would the stench be so bad that patrons would suffocate in the aisles, wailing for mercy every time Berry cracked that stupid whip of hers?

While I can report that nobody died in the aisles, Catwoman is an honest-to-God candidate for the year's worst film. Avoiding the darkness that made Tim Burton's Catwoman (played by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns) an intriguing character, Pitof and company continue the sad tradition of Joel Schumacher's campy, trashy take on the comic-book movie.

Berry stars as Patience Philips, a graphic designer for a cosmetics company and an extremely poor dresser. When she overhears a big secret concerning a toxic beauty cream set for release to an unknowing public, she is quickly disposed of and dumped in a river, or lake, or whatever the hell it is. As luck would have it, there's some sort of stone island in the middle of the water where cats converge on her dead body, perform some sort of power-transference ritual and bring Patience back to life.

Up until this point, the film is almost tolerable. It's after Patience gets her cat powers that the film takes a dump. Patience talks with the same sultry, slow pattern that Pfeiffer managed to pull off, but it seems contrived and copycat coming out of Berry. When confronted by dogs or evil people, Patience hisses, and Berry seems embarrassed as she performs this task (and she should be). Other attempts at humor include eating tuna from the can, sleeping on bookshelves and, you guessed it, claw marks on her boyfriend's (Benjamin Bratt) back after sex.

Does it get worse? You bet, because this film has Sharon Stone as the villain, and the woman still operates under the deranged notion that she has any sort of acting talent. As evil cosmetic empire heiress Laurel Hedare, Stone comes off as a mundane Cruella de Vil, minus the wild hair, cigarette and talent possessed by Glenn Close. Stone is gearing up for Basic Instinct 2: The Unbearable Actress Shit Storm, so look out.

Will Berry survive the recent slate of lousy career choices she has made? It seems like she's intentionally trying to derail her career, doesn't it? Intentional or not, this Catwoman business must stop, and stop now. She should sign up for X-Men 3, climb atop the Hollywood sign and burn that damn costume for all to see. She should bring Sharon Stone along. They could hold hands, sing "I'm Sorry" and exorcise the Catwoman demon. It would be a cathartic and refreshing experience.

Catwoman
Rated NR

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