Let me admit from the get-go that I’m no big fan of Katy Perry’s. The thing I like about her most is that she was once married to Russell Brand. Her “brand” of fun-but-fluffy pop music stylings strike me as only intermittently listenable and entirely forgettable once the songs have ended. She kisses girls and she likes it? Good for her. (Wake me when a mainstream heterosexual male pop icon sings about kissing a guy – and liking it). Her vocals are (to my ears, at least) interchangeable with any number of other so-called pop divas and Disney-manufactured tweens and that, I think, is the reason why she has to go to such lengths as to parade around the world in attention-grabbing costumes and Smurfette wigs. It’s as if she’s trying to conceal the fact that there isn’t really much there underneath. The triumph of form over content is old, old hat, especially in entertainment.
But even a jaded and cynical critic likes yours truly can be objective, at least for the 95 minute running time of Katy Perry: Part of Me, the documentary that follows Perry around the world on her California Dreamin’ tour. The film is about half interviews and half footage of her live performances from the tour. Needless to say, the musical bits are infinitely more interesting.
Perry and her family offer some interesting insights into the path Perry took to reach stardom. Her parents were traveling preachers and yet didn’t mind when their daughter decided to pursue the ungodly realm of pop music and celebrity. But beyond that, there isn’t much in the way of revelation as far as the interviews with Perry and her family and friends are concerned. It’s standard “We always knew she would make it” jib jab.
The best bits of the film are when Perry performs live in concert – there is tangible energy emanating from the screen in those moments – and especially when she meets her fans. She seems to genuinely care about them and their desire to be exactly like her. Most of them show up donned in some version of her famous get-ups (mostly drag queens, as I recall) but she receives each one warmly and with gratitude.
I wouldn’t recommend the film to anyone but diehard Katy Perry fans, but if you happen to be forced into seeing it, you won’t mind it by the time it’s over. It’s not cherry chapstick, but you might even like it.