Jul 28, 2004 at 12:00 am

It’s fitting that the director of Catwoman goes by just one name, Pitof. Hmmmm, who else goes by just one name? Cher. Madonna. Bono. Yanni. There are others, I’m sure of it. The brain rebels against such a trifling pursuit. Besides the fact that all these one-namers have killer sunglass collections, what else do they have in common? A slavish devotion to style? Unchecked egos? A preoccupation with how their asses look? I’m guessing on the last one, but it’s a pretty safe assumption that they all have asked their minions to give them an honest assessment of their red carpet sashay. Well, maybe not Yanni, but you get the drift.

Going by one name speaks to a particularly silly self-absorption that is shared by every single frame of Pitof’s latest creation. To take a ripe and ready concept, that of a woman possessing the mystical and physical prowess of a cat, and waste it on an-hour-and-a-half music video is just plain criminal.

Don’t get me wrong. It is not painful watching Halle Berry strut her stuff. But even by the standards of a popcorn-munching comic book movie blockbuster, this film is just plain ridiculous.

Berry, trying hard to make us forget she won an Academy Award, plays Patience Phillips, a dowdy and shy artist working for an evil cosmetics company. She’s got a lonely, hypersexual sidekick on one side of her cubicle, Sally (Alex Borstein of “Mad TV,” incredibly unfunny here). On the other side of her cubicle she has an equally annoying gay dude who keeps popping his head up and saying things akin to “You go, girl!” This is just the beginning of what will become an endless parade of the most grating ensemble since “Eight Is Enough.

While delivering a very important project to the obnoxious CEO of her company, Patience unwittingly witnesses a clandestine meeting between the CEO’s evil wife, a snarling, scenery-chewing Sharon Stone, and one of the company’s scientists. Seems there is something terribly wrong with their new anti-aging cream.

Patience gets whacked by some cosmetic company goons, lest she lets the cat out of the bag (sorry). Her body washes up on a muddy bank. Suffice it to say she comes back to life, depressing those who thought the film was near its end. She now has the agility of a cat, which you may not know includes being really good at basketball.

Does she shit in a box now? Does she lick herself clean or cough up those gray things every cat owner loves picking up off the carpet? No. She gets sexy! Cue pop music! Cue montage! Cue that sashaying ass! Yeah!

How was Berry expected to compete with Eartha Kitt or Julie Newmar, two purrfectly sexy catwomen who gave more than one young male viewer his first woody on the classic ’60s television show “Batman.” The leather, the purring, the whip — it was all there for the taking, and Pitof didn’t think he had to work to make it interesting. He was wrong.

One star for Halle Berry’s ass. One for Sharon Stone’s. And that’s about it.

Dan DeMaggio writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].