Ever since the release of I Kiss a Girl, Katy Perry has been a pop music sensation, reaching more than just the tweens who still comprise the majority of her audience. Katy Perry: Part of Me documents her first full-scale, worldwide tour. It’s at least as slick a production as the choreography for her stage production, but Perry allows us a few telling peeks behind the curtain behind the curtain.
Katy Perry: Part of Me actually does a bit more than document the Part of Me tour – it recaps, with charming home videos, her progression from good Christian girl singing gospel, to Alanis Morrissette-inspired singer/songwriter, to her current status as Princess of Pop.
Clips of the young Perry strumming a cheap blue guitar, emulating Morrissette and behind the scenes prepping for the tour are interspersed with clips of parents, brother and grandmother reveal some surprises (Perry and her brother couldn’t even Lucky Charms because ‘luck is of the devil’) and some moments of family solidarity (her parents saying they’ll love her no matter what kind of music she plays), but the real surprises come in dealing with her relationship with Russell Brand.
On the days between shows, Perry would fly off to meet Brand, in order to keep their marriage alive. Though, apparently, he didn’t do the same for her, Perry and her touring company never slag him – even after she gets the phone call telling her Brand has filed for a divorce.
And here is where we see more than we expect – the camera lingers on her as she curls up on a bed backstage only moments before her Brazil concert, crying. Then, still fighting tears, she puts herself together and, as she rises from beneath the stage – and as the spotlight hits her – she smiles and prepares to entertain her fans. The show must go on, indeed.
As for the music, Perry runs through all of her hits with energy and effervescence. The film features all her hits and few other songs besides. Yes, they’re relatively lightweight pop songs, and yes, the stage presentation, like Tina Turner’s from another generation, finds every drop of perspiration in its perfect place, but (also like Ms. Turner) Perry never mails it in.
Two perfect examples of her talent come with a soulful rendition of the Beatles classic, Hey Jude (which gets cut off far too soon) and a revamped I Kissed a Girl that suggests Perry might make one heckuva torch singer, should she ever feel inclined.
Much is made of Perry’s habit of selecting fans from the audience (usually ones with colorful costumes) to get up on stage and dance during one number – and of her post-concert hosting of groups of fans. Each of these occurrences shows how much she means to her fans – and how much her fans mean to her. Even more than during the actual concerts, she seems to come alive during these encounters.
Unfortunately, the brief snippets of interviews with various members of her company – manager, hair and makeup guy, and so forth – don’t really tell us much, other than that Perry has taken chances with some people who otherwise might never have had a chance in the business (and that they’ve become friends – a family, even). We never really get a sense of who these people are. That time could have been better served by showing us more concert footage – mixed in with a few more clips of fans talking about what she means to them.
As for presentation, let’s just say that The Amazing Spider-Man wishes its 3D had been half as effective. Frankly, with the excellence of the 3D, theater audiences will get a better concert experience here than they ever could at one of her actual concerts.
Katy Perry: Part of Me is much better when it’s being The Great and Wonderful Oz than when it’s being ‘the man behind the curtain,’ but the concert footage and a few moments of unexpected vulnerability from Perry make the film a fun experience for fans – and won’t disappoint any adults who want to (or have to) see it.
Final Grade: A-
Photos courtesy Paramount Pictures