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Short takes

Not suitable under 15; parental guidance to 15 (violence, scary scenes, adult themes, sexual references)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Catwoman
  • a review of Catwoman completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 September 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to the level and frequency of violence, the scenes in the film that could scare younger children, its adult themes and sexual references.
Children aged 15 Parental guidance recommended due to the level and frequency of violence, adult themes and sexual references.
Children over the age of 15 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Catwoman
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence
Length: 104 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Catwoman stars Halle Berry as Patience Phillips/Catwoman, Sharon Stone as Laurel Hedare ex-supermodel/evil woman, Lambert Wilson as Georges Hedare/nasty guy and Benjamin Bratt as detective Tom Lone.

Patience Phillips is a print artist who works for Hedare Beauty. While attempting to deliver some artwork after hours Patience accidentally uncovers a dark secret relating to an anti-aging cream, and as a result Patience must run for her life from security guards. Unable to escape the guards, Patience is eventually trapped in waste pipes and flushed into the ocean where she drowns. However, she is brought back to life by an ageless Egyptian cat named Midnight. The mystical power of Midnight not only breathes new life into Patience, but also infuses her with the physical and physiological qualities of a cat. As a result, Patience is transformed onto a “Catwoman”, a superhuman able to scale vertical walls, leap from great heights and perform all manner of acrobatic acts. With her newly found abilities Patience becomes Catwoman, who, equipped with diamond claws and whip sets out to seek revenge against the Hedares.

Several subplots are inter-woven throughout the film including: a courtship between Patience and Tom Lone, a detective investigating a series of crimes linked to Catwoman; Catwoman preventing armed thieves from robbing a jewellery shop; Patience rescuing a small boy from a collapsing Ferris wheel; Catwoman being framed by Laurel Hedare for two murders including Georges Hedare; Catwoman roughing up several bad guys and tracking down those responsible for her death; and Catwoman sabotaging the release of the anti-aging cream.
Towards the final stages of the film, Tom Lone realises that Catwoman is Patience’s alter ego, and imprisons Patience for the alleged crimes committed by Catwoman. However, Patience escapes from her captivity, dons her leather cat suit and confronts Laurel Hedare for the final showdown.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.


Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Violence was used extensively throughout the film. However, while most of the violence enacted by males is presented as clumsy thuggery, Catwoman and Patience’s use of violence is highly glamorised effective and stylish. Catwoman was never outmatched with the only serious challenge being provided by the film’s female villain Laurel Hedare.

At times the use of violence was presented in an almost slapstick manner.

Other acts of violence included:

  • continuous fist fights (martial arts) between Catwoman and her foes
  • gun fights with hand guns and shotguns
  • Catwoman wrapping her whip around the neck of her foes
  • people being thrown of off buildings and through walls
  • Patience being blown out of a waste disposal pipe by pressurised water and plummeting hundreds of feet into the ocean
  • a man punching Catwoman
  • Georges Hedare slapping his wife hard across the face
  • Catwoman clawing and disfiguring Laurel Hedare’s face with her diamond claws.

Verbal violence was also used throughout the film, in the form of hurtful sarcastic putdowns by Georges Hedare, directed specifically at women.

With the exception of deaths related to the film’s plot, there were few real life consequences associated with the use of violence, and almost no displays of blood and gore. For example, when Catwoman threw a bad guy through a nightclub wall, the man was able to walk away without any apparent injuries. Catwoman’s foes were able to take severe beatings and continue fighting without any sign of physical injury. While Laurel Hedare is simply impervious to pain or injury; her use of the toxic anti-aging cream has turned her skin to marble.

The film displayed a few bloody gunshot wounds, the most graphic being the display of Georges Hedare’s dead body, which was riddled with bloody bullet holes and claw marks.

The film’s two leading women enacted most of the violence. However, the violence (verbal, physical and psychological) enacted by Georges Hedare against his wife and girlfriend was darker and nastier.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

As well as the violent scenes mentioned above, children under the age of 5 could be scared by the following:

  • Catwoman looks quite terrifying—her costume, mask, claws and whip, and the manner in which she crawls up walls , punches her face through a glass window and fights
  • visual images when Patience transforms into Catwoman
  • a malfunction of a Ferris Wheel causes a small boy to be tipped out of his seat
  • visual images of Laurel Hedare’s face grotesquely disfigured.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

The above scenes could also disturb children between the ages of eight and thirteen years. However, older children in this age range are better equipped to distinguish appearance from reality, and therefore have a greater chance of interpreting the visual images and violence as unrealistic.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

In general children over the age of thirteen should not be scared by visual images of Catwoman. However, the violent visual images may still adversely affect some children in this age bracket. The scenes involving violence enacted by Georges Hedare against women are presented in a more realistic manner and could have a negative impact on children of this age, as they are developing their attitudes towards their own gender roles and the opposite sex.

Product placement

None noted.

Sexual references

There are several sexual references made throughout the movie. A number of these are made by Patience’s friend Sally in reference to Patience dating of the detective Tom Lone, suggesting that she ‘go for it’.
Laurel Hedare makes a number of sarcastic remarks in relation to her husband’s infidelity and seduction of younger women, e.g ‘careful George—she’s not old enough to drink.

Nudity and sexual activity

Although there is no nudity in the movie, Catwoman is clad in a backless tight fitting black leather costume that accentuates her upper torso. Catwoman’s scantly clad body is featured throughout the movie.

The film displays one bedroom scene inferring sexual activity between Patience and Tom Lone. No images of sexual activity are presented, there is a kiss on the lips, images of Tom Lone’s naked upper torso and Patience is clothed in pyjamas. The morning after scene provides Tom Lone with greater insight into Patience’s dual personality.

Use of substances

The film contained two short scenes, one at a party and another in a nightclub, with people drinking alcohol. While in the nightclub Catwoman orders a Black Russian minus the alcohol leaving her with a glass of cream.

Coarse language

None noted.

In a nutshell

There is no simple take-home message in Catwoman. There is no obviously good hero or heroine as the dual character of Patience and Catwoman is presented as both good and bad, weak and strong, submissive and dominating. It portrays women in the office as the submissive underdogs ruled by their superior male employers with the only male office worker presented as camp.

The following content could be used by parents to discuss with their children what their own family’s values are, and what the real life consequences can be of some actions and attitudes:

  • gender imbalance in the workplace
  • Georges Hedare’s manner towards and treatment of women
  • domestic violence
  • the internal struggle of good versus bad and right versus wrong
  • how much value should be placed on external beauty and the manner in which beauty and advertising companies manipulate and exert pressure on the young to look beautiful and maintain a youthful appearance.