Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sniff! Is That the Movie, or the Catbox? Oh, It's Both...?

Catwoman (2004)
Directed by Pitof (which is, appropriately, the sound one makes when hawking up a loogie)
Written by Bob Kane (characters), Theresa Rebeck and John D. Brancanto & Michael Ferris (story), John D. Brancanto & Michael Ferris and John Rogers (screenplay)

Halle Berry is a chatty corpse floating face down in the water and telling us all about how she's dead, which would be great if this was Sunset Boulevard and she was William Holden, but it's not and she isn't. Instead, we get an earful about her job designing ads for beauty cream, which sounds boring until we see that her boss is that snotty French guy from the Matrix sequels, so it's probably EVIL beauty cream. This is confirmed when we learn that his wife, Sharon Stone, has reluctantly decided to step aside as the face of the cosmetics company because she's too old, which is the exact same plot as Roger Corman's The Wasp Woman. So based on past performance, the skin cream will turn her into a bug, and Halle's Catwoman will spend the rest of the film toying with Sharon on kitchen floor before eating her.

The Merovingian calls Halle into his office and complains that her artwork is crappy. Then her neighbors throw a party that keep her up until four in the morning, so she really has no choice but to become a super-villain, since basically the same thing happened to Hitler. (The poor reviews for his paintings, I mean, but I bet he only invaded Poland because they had their polka music turned up too loud.) The final indignity comes when a stray cat lures Halle outside in a transparent attempt to kill her, and Halle cooperates by crawling through her fourth floor window and getting stuck on her air conditioner.

So rest easy, Gotham. The Catwoman has treed herself.

Passing cop Benjamin Bratt mistakenly assumes she's suicidal rather than stupid, and pulls her off the a/c just as it gives way. But he lets her head off to work, presumably because he's also stupid and there's such a thing as professional courtesy, you know. But Benjamin quickly deduces that if he wants any more screen time he's going to have to attach himself to Halle so closely she’ll need a nit comb to dislodge him. So he shows up in her cubicle at Evil Creams, Inc., flips through her portfolio while muttering insincere compliments, then asks her out on a date in a vaguely creepy way, raising the question in the viewer's mind: why did I buy a ticket to this movie when I can see the same thing for free in the break room on Monday?

Halle's strategically less attractive friend tells her to shave her legs and "wear that leather outfit I got you for your birthday.” Halle says, “I’ll never wear that leather outfit,” but her friend has already quit for the day because she's freelance, not salaried, and only gets paid on a per-foreshadowing basis.

Halle goes to Evil Cream's secret R&D facility at midnight in the mistaken belief someone wants her crappy artwork, and blunders into a PowerPoint presentation on how their beauty ointment is noxious, addictive, and turns long-term customers into Rondo Hatton. Sharon doesn't care about side effects and plans to sell the product anyway, because like all women who own cosmetics brands, she's a genocidal maniac (I haven't had a chance to look it up, but I'm pretty sure Mary Kay was tried at the Hague for war crimes).  Unsurprisingly, Sharon's skin cream company employs an army of heavily armed mercenaries (I myself was once chased through an abandoned warehouse by bloodthirsty goons in the pay of Maybelline), and they go all The Most Dangerous Game on Halle's ass. She escapes into a sewer pipe, but one of the mercs had a big breakfast and flushes twice, and Halle goes shooting out the end of the pipe, which apparently flows into the Grand Canyon, because she falls about a thousand feet into a river, which is where we came in at the beginning with the talkative floater.

A CGI cat yowls. Now, I know I ought to be paying attention to the plot, that's what you people are paying me for, but I can't help wondering why they went to all the trouble to computer generate this animal. I mean, it's not Rise of the Planet of the Apes. If you want to see a kitty go "meow," you don't have to put Andy Serkis in a mo-cap suit and fire up the Avatar technology, you can just go to YouTube. There's almost nothing but cat videos there, and most of them are doing much more interesting things than they are in this movie: riding around the kitchen on Roombas, wrestling Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pigs, and photobombing erotic Snapchats.

Despite drowning in a river, Halle's body washes up on the top of a mountain somewhere, so apparently her corpse not only performs a tender and confessional one woman show, but likes to unwind by rock-climbing.

Morris the CGI Cat stands on her chest and exhales tuna breath into Halle's face, and it's apparently so pungent she's literally awoken from the dead. And endowed with feline super powers, such as the ability to grasp ineffectually at a crab, leap onto a second story fire escape, and clean her anus by scooting on the carpet.

Halle wakes up to a pretty crappy day. She's missed her date with Benjamin Bratt, she's late for work, and she's a half-cat zombie. But she's also a good citizen, so she takes the cat that tried to kill her and then resurrected her back to her owner, a crazy cat lady who gasses on about the goddess Bast, and then tosses Halle a catnip ball just to watch her go Full Metal Felix.

At work the next day, Halle begins to display disturbing, but typical feline behaviors, such as hissing at dogs, doodling cartoons, and appraising jewelry. She gets herself fired by the Frenchman, then goes to a Rec Center where Benjamin is helping at-risk youth stay out of gangs by giving them a really boring speech. The kids, desperate for entertainment, suggest the two adults play one-on-one and toss the basketball to Halle. You expect that she'll bat it around until it rolls under the couch and then immediately forgets it exists, but it turns out she's not only a zombie were-cat, but also a were-Harlem Globetrotter, as the previously gawky, klutzy nerd suddenly busts out so many spectacular ball-handling tricks you expect the soundtrack to start whistling "Sweet Georgia Brown." Then she turns into a were-Miley Cyrus and twerks on Benjamin until he falls to the ground, where she mounts him in front of the children. After subjecting a playground full of underprivileged children to involuntary sex education, she goes into a biker hangout and terrorizes the Hell's Angels by squatting on the bar and cracking the club soda hose like a whip.

Back home, Halle grabs some grooming shears and cuts her own hair off at lightning speed, because if there's one thing cats are known for, it's their super-fast scissors work.

She goes to a high end jewelry store to window shop, and notices there just happens to be two thieves with shotguns wandering around inside, shattering display cases at random because this is a world where skin cream is as additive as heroin and cats can resurrect dead bodies, but nobody ever thought to invent the burglar alarm. So Halle goes inside, dons a cat-eye mask that just happens to be there, and introduces herself to the two thieves, who instantly empty their shotguns at her in a vain attempt to end the movie right now. They miss, because she's been endowed with the cat-like ability crawl up walls and across ceilings like a spider. Also, like most common house pets, she knows Matrix-style kung fu.

Halle goes back to the Crazy Cat Lady, who admits that her cat is constantly getting people killed, and then resurrecting them -- it's a little game it likes to play -- and Halle is just the latest in a long line of undead human-feline hybrids it's created over the years. Clearly somebody needs to get this cat a laser pointer, or one of those feather-on-a-fishing pole things.

Halle decides to track down the people who murdered her (rather than the cat who orchestrated it), since the movie's still got an hour to go. She doesn't remember how she died or who killed her, so the first thing she does is go immediately and unerringly to the guy who shot her in the head. The movie is vague about how she accomplishes this, but I presume it's some new app designed to help zombies connect with the people who snuffed them ("Hey Siri, where's the guy who blew my brains out?") Siri responds that he appears to be chilling in the discotheque from Saturday Night Fever, so Halle travels by turning into a computer generated video game character who leaps over rooftops and squats on water tanks. Then she interrogates her killer by grabbing his tongue and saying, "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?", which really makes me want to kill her, but I don't bother because I know Kitty Christ would just give her the Lazarus treatment again.

But Halle's not the only one with kind of stupid super powers, as we see when Sharon and Merovingian get in a tiff; he slaps her face and breaks his hand, because the toxic cold cream has not only shrunk her pores, it's turned her skin bulletproof. This is actually great news, because now all they need is a mascara that gives you heat vision, a lip gloss that grants freeze breath, and a blusher that lets you fly, and anybody can be Superman, if Superman looked like a slut.

Benjamin and Halle go out to dinner, and then back to her place. Things heat up, but he begins to suspect she might secretly be Catwoman when Halle scratches his back during sex and then complains about the lack of barbs on his penis.

After he leaves, Sharon calls and asks Halle to come over because she's killed her husband and would  really like to frame her for his murder.

"Awww, what's the matter? Suddenly wondering if you've made a bad career choice? Yeah, boo-hoo. Talk to me after you've simulated intercourse with a Baldwin."

Benjamin arrests Halle for homicide, grand larceny (the jewel heist) and trash-talking his penis.  But the cat who killed her and unkilled her shows up again and teaches Halle the mystical secret to breaking out of jail: be skinny enough to squeeze through the bars.  (This is why nobody even bothers arresting Ann Coulter for murder anymore.)

Benjamin confronts Sharon at her office, but he's not the star so she just shoots him; then she and Halle have the the mother (and grandmother) of all cat fights.  It goes on for awhile, because Sharon's mutagenic cold cream has given her "skin like living marble," so she can really take a beating, and cleans up in a jif. Eventually, however, Halle's diamond-encrusted claws scratch up Sharon's surface (just another reminder that if you have cats, you can forget about having nice things -- like a face), before shoving her out a high rise window.

Benjamin walks off his bullet wound and shows up just in time to hear Halle deliver the coda:  "I may not be a hero...But I'm certainly not killer." 

Hm. That seems...debatable. Let's just say, for now, that you're Killer Adjacent.


Keith said...

It's Stimpy's fault. Look what those cartoons did to his mind!!!

Smut Clyde said...

I myself was once chased through an abandoned warehouse by bloodthirsty goons in the pay of Maybelline

I seem to recall that from a Bloom County plot arc.

grouchomarxist said...

I'll never look at a hot pink Cadillac the same way again.

Let's see: woman is killed, cat breathes on her and resurrects her as a vengeful cat-spirit endowed with supernatural abilities. So what we've got here is a kind of high camp homage to Kuroneko?

Scott said...

Pretty much, although I wouldn't call it "high camp." More like "hobo jungle."

Weird Dave said...

"Awww, what's the matter? Suddenly wondering if you've made a bad career choice? Yeah, boo-hoo. Talk to me after you've simulated intercourse with a Baldwin."

That was funny.

So. The kind of movie you turn the sound down and put on your favorite heavy metal album. Loud.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Weird Dave beat me to it.

Bad Weird Dave! BAD!

Smut Clyde said...

I wouldn't call it "high camp." More like "hobo jungle."
From what I've heard about Everest South Base Camp there is not a lot of difference.

Debbi said...

Hilarious, as always!!

Another Holocene Human said...

I had to quit reading your hilarious synopsis because the plot was too unbelievable.

So Halle Berry's agent stopped at "Catwoman! Iconic! Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer without discovering that the plot would put Howard the Duck or any of a number of 80s kid oriented fantasy movies to shame.

Cat behaviors? Bast? What did they think this was, Ghostbusters? Uh, you're short a few comedians....

Scott, I do appreciate you making me laugh. :)

Scott said...

You're quite welcome, AHH. And yes, this movie was fairly basted in Bast; the opening credits are shot against various Egyptian tomb paintings, although most of the film itself seems to take place in the Marketing Department at Pond's.