A catfight is a fight between two women. It’s natural to think of a catfight as mainly scratching, slapping, hair pulling, and yelling. It’s not as common to think of it as a knock-down, drag-out brawl in the style of the Roddy Piper/Keith David fight in They Live. And yet that’s what Catfight provides. Multiple times.
Veronica (Sandra Oh) has led a pampered existence and hasn’t really done much with her life. She dropped out of college and married a businessman (Damian Young), and now they pay a servant (Myra Lucretia Taylor) to take care of them. One night, when Veronica is at a party celebrating a new contract that her husband’s company was just awarded, she runs into an old college acquaintance, Ashley (Anne Heche). Ashley is a struggling artist who’s helping her girlfriend Lisa (Alicia Silverstone) cater the party. Veronica and Ashley start talking in a stairwell, but it soon comes to blows. The fight gets brutal and ends with Veronica getting knocked out.
When she wakes up, Veronica is in a hospital bed. She’s been there for two years, during which time the world has completely changed out from under her. Her husband and son are both dead, and she’s flat broke. Meanwhile, Ashley’s art has taken off, and she and Lisa are expecting a baby. Now Veronica wants revenge.
It’s difficult to succinctly describe this movie, but I suppose that it’s part While You Were Sleeping, part Arrested Development, and part Itchy & Scratchy cartoon. It’s very funny at times, especially during wars of words and of fists, but some of the most lowbrow stuff (and especially an Idiocracy-evoking recurring gag with a farting character on a late night comedy show) is too cringe worthy to be effective.
But what I liked most about the film is its ability to play with the elements that it’s already provided and remix them in a way that’s both familiar and fresh. Given that the stairwell fight happens pretty early into the film, and given its substantial consequences on Veronica’s life, it’s not too hard to predict that there might be a second. And if you liked the first one, then you’ll probably like the second one even more because it’s just bigger all the way around.
Catfight is definitely not perfect. It feels like a low-budget indie film with the foley too loud and the fighting not very realistic. But it is entertaining, unexpected, and it feels like it achieves exactly what it wants to.