August 02, 2004 12:00 PM

Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Bratt, Lambert Wilson

If cats, those snootiest of creatures, went to the movies, they would be appalled and mortified. What did they ever do to deserve having their good name and mannerisms dragged through such dingbat fluff as this?

Catwoman, in which Berry prowls about as the masked character who first appeared in a Batman comic in 1940, wants to be campy fun. But the inane plot, frantic music-video look and heavy-breathing performances soon drain it of whatever teeny amusement quotient it might have had. Berry is Patience Philips, a drab graphic designer who is reborn as Kitten with a Whip—oops, I mean Catwoman—after being killed. Or something like that. She must now bring to justice the movie’s villainess (Stone) who, as cohead of the cosmetics company where Patience worked, is manufacturing a deadly moisturizer.

Mostly, the film serves as an excuse for the camera to linger lovingly on its leading lady’s perky posterior and chest, which are frequently clad in skimpy skin-hugging leathers or knits. Stone also wears excessively tight costumes and plunging necklines, as does even the heroine’s pudgy gal pal (Alex Borstein). No one emerges with their dignity here. When Berry’s Catwoman and Stone’s deadly diva finally trade blows, it’s just the latest example of girls behaving badly. (PG-13)


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