Katy Perry: Part Of Me Review By Adam
I know what you are thinking: he is going to rip this film to shreds. But you know what? I liked Katy Perry: Part of Me quite a bit. I’m not going to become a ‘KatyCat’ or whatever the fuck her fans call themselves, but this film got past my defences, didn’t overstay its welcome and gave me an appreciation of the hard work that goes into being a universal star. I even tapped my foot once or twice.
I’ve got a very sensible approach to pop music – I don’t like it, so I don’t listen to it. Despite giving the genre a wide berth, certain ditties slip through my defences, and a lot of these are songs by Katy Perry. While her songs don’t make me reach for the razorblades, I wouldn’t waste a torrent on her album Teenage Dream - it’s just not my bag. With print media, music channels and TMZ perpetuating today’s over-saturated world of celebrities, it’s impossible not to know who some of these stars are. Despite avoiding this culture, I know more about Kim Kardashian than I do about my own neighbours. Same goes for Katy Perry. Through no effort of my own, I know that she married (and divorced) Russell Brand, makes fragrances, looks like a toffee-coated playboy bunny and is a top selling female artist. Hell, I imagine that even jihadists know who Katy Perry is (and possibly want to kill her). After watching this affable documentary, it turns out I didn’t know that much about Ms Perry (born Katheryn Hudson) at all.
Katy Perry: Part of Me functions in two capacities; part of this film captures her performances from the California Dreams Tour (in 3D, no less) and the other segments give us an intimate portrait of Katheryn Hudson and the effort she puts into being ‘Katy Perry’. Her concert performances are as outlandish as one would expect. Perry is larger than life on stage and the clear, 3D photography makes her ‘lollipop Lolita’ aesthetic pop right out in all of its sugary glory. Thankfully (for me, anyway) her performances are just sections of her hits and not the whole number – it never gets too indulgent.
The more interesting element of this film is the behind the scenes machinations that make up ‘Katy Perry’ the performer. It would appear that Ms Perry is never alone – she is constantly in the care of a producer, manager or stylist. Even her sister, Angela, helps with PR. It is apparent that Perry is the ‘golden goose’ and little is ever done to challenge her. And although she lives in a hermetically-sealed vacuum, Perry is no delusional arsehole. She has a genuine affinity with her fans and knows that fame is a fickle game. A surprising element (to me) was her earlier failure as an artist. Perry has been passed through the hands of multiple record companies - all promising to make her a star. These early disappointments have made her the headstrong and uncompromising artist she is today.
This documentary shows a private side of Perry, but pulls its punches where it matters the most. Katy has two elephants in her private life: her batshit crazy, evangelical minister parents Keith and Mary Hudson, and her ex-junkie, womanising, comedy superstar husband Russell Brand. Perry’s parent are out-there in a major way and, despite being the benefactors of Perry’s success, they are disapproving of anything un-Christian (including Perry’s breakout hit I Kissed a Girl). In short: they are fucking hypocrites. The film relegates them to a side note, which is lucky for Perry, but we miss out on what could have been great documentary filmmaking. Brand is present in this (my audience groaned when he appeared) but the film plays it too safe. We see the devastating effect that the breakdown of their relationship (and eventual divorce) had on Perry, but she never explicitly says what he did wrong. It is a noble way to handle it, but once again it robs us of great (if salicious) material. I realise that both of my above criticisms are more or less pointless as this film is intended for a tween audience. These guys came for candy coloured pyrotechnics, not nutjob fundamentalists and sexual infidelity.
Even though filmmakers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz aren’t going to challenge Errol Morris or Joe Berlinger in the documentarian stakes, they have achieved what they set out to do. This film doesn’t have a boring patch in it and the running time goes by in a breeze. If you are a ‘KatyCat’. I imagine you’ve already got tickets. But if you get dragged along to this you won’t find yourself looking for the nearest noose. Also, it would be irresponsible of me to not address a question a lot of you are thinking: no, she does not ‘get her tits out in 3D’. I’m glad we cleared that up.