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Katy Perry: Part of Me Review: An *Almost* Entirely Manufactured Whole

By Agent Bedhead | Film | July 7, 2012 |

By Agent Bedhead | Film | July 7, 2012 |

Here we go with another 3-D concert movie for the undiscriminating masses. The most recent such efforts have brought nothing but misery for non-fans — Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience framed the now-obsolete trio as the next coming of The Beatles, and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never gave us the origin story of a dipshit — and Katy Perry: Part of Me is no exception. Perry is both star and producer (she kicked in $2 million of her own cash) of this 3-D extravaganza. Part of Me is clearly her dictated vision of what she would like her audience to see, but that’s nothing new when it comes to documentaries now, is it?

Altogether, this movie is a boldly-colored, brightly-patterned, saccharine-sweet portrayal of the onstage and backstage life of a (for better or worse) global pop star. The documentary follows Katy throughout the California Dreams world tour that supported her Teenage Dream album, and to her credit, the movie acknowledges that the support system for such a tour is incredibly huge. Between Katy’s make-up artists, handlers, and stylists, the girl can’t go wrong as far as her appearance goes (though there’s no accounting for taste), and that doesn’t even begin to include those personal assistants, dancers, and crew who are along for the ride. The doc presents a rather amazing display of excess that is celebrated on a nightly basis in front of packed arenas, which are filled with fawning fans who all bow at the feet of the painted lady with pinwheels spinning on her boobs. The candy-coated theme is rather nauseating, but the tweeners love this crap.

The good news? Most of the concert footage is cut so that you never have to hear an entire one of Katy’s dreadful songs in its entirety. The bad news? Everything else or, at least, most of it. The movie still celebrates inane lyrics like “I wanna see you peacock, cock, cock / Are you brave enough to let me see you peacock? / Don’t be a chicken boy, stop acting like a biatch.” So as much as I’d like to wholly dismiss Part of Me as completely vapid dreck, it does contain a bit of an unintended plot. Or so I assume that the directors (Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, the same ones behind Bieber’s movie) never imagined they’d hit the emotional jackpot while setting out to capture the so-called “hidden” life of a vapid popstar who seems to believe that she’s a perfect hybrid of Alanis Morissette and Madonna.

Yet this is no Truth Or Dare by a long shot. A few similarities do exist in terms of both raw ambition and a backstage Warren Beatty of sorts. For those who remain blessedly unfamiliar with Katy’s personal life, let me ruin your enlightened state by informing you that Katy married British comedian Russell Brand immediately before she kicked off this world tour. So much for the honeymoon phase, right? Well the movie clearly documents the quick degeneration of a marriage stretched to the limits by a couple that rarely ever seems to be in the same city. Of course, this isn’t entirely Katy’s fault because Russell should have known what he was getting into, but the effects are unmistakably poignant. The fact that the filmmakers included this crap in the movie should have pissed me off (and in fact, Russell asked Katy to remove his likeness and all references to him, but she refused). Yet oddly enough, this marital exploitation is the only thing that saves the movie from being a completely nauseating confection.

Indeed, Katy Perry wants her audience to believe that dreams can come true and that a fairy-tale ending is possible, but this is supposedly an account of real life or, as the title suggests, “part” of an account. During one moment, she actually exclaims, “I feel a bit like I live in a fairytale.” Then, of course, her fairytale crumbles, and she cannot maintain the delicate balance of a hectic touring schedule while keeping up her personal life as well. On one hand, it was douchey for Brand to file divorce papers immediately before the largest show of Katy’s entire tour. On the other, Katy definitely uses the fallout to her advantage for this movie, and the backstage moments after she hears the bad news are perhaps the only semi-genuine seconds of the entire movie. As Katy lies on the floor convulsing with tears, I realized (perhaps for the first time ever) that she’s a real person. Then Katy rose up from her pile of glittery ashes, pasted on a blazing smile, fixed her make-up, and went to perform for the waiting crowd. This display of fractured reality isn’t enough to redeem the whole movie, but it’s enough to satisfy the title of the film. Katy shows off part of herself in Part of Me, but we never receive the whole of the matter.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.

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