DVD Release Date: September 18, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: July 5, 2012
Rating: PG (some suggestive content, language, thematic elements and brief smoking)
Genre: Documentary/Music
Run Time: 96 min.
Directors: Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz
Cast: Katy Perry, Shannon Woodward, Rachael Markarian, Glen Ballard, Mia Moretti, Johnny Wujek, Bradford Cobb, Tasha Layton, Angelica Baehler-Cob, Adam Marcello

Behind every pop star, there’s a carefully crafted persona, and for anyone wondering, yes, watching a Katy Perry concert is a lot like seeing your childhood Candy Land game come to life.

A world where everything’s sparkly, candy-colored and sporting the requisite cherry on top, it doesn’t take long for some serious cuteness fatigue to settle in, especially if like me, you’re not part of the target demographic. But in Part of Me, a 3-D movie chronicling the last year of her life on the road, 27-year-old Perry insists that all these sweet accoutrements are simply part of who she is, and that making people happy is, perhaps, the greatest joy of doing what she does for a living.

Perry’s journey to success was a rather long and winding one. Kicking off with a failed foray into the Christian music market in Nashville (and yes, there’s a couple quick clips with her singing Gospel), she later tried her luck on the pop music circuit in Los Angeles, only to be bounced around from label to label. In fact, one of the funniest scenes in the movie is when she tries channeling her inner Avril Lavigne per an industry exec’s request.       

Since being faux-angry didn’t really work for her and she wasn’t interested in being the next Kelly Clarkson or Ashlee Simpson either, she kept pressing forward until she finally met a few music industry folks who “got” her. Incidentally, if there’s a theme that rings the loudest in Part of Me, it’s to be true to yourself, even if that seems “weird” to the masses. Further underscoring this message are the testimonies of several fans who also feel out of place in the world but find comfort in Perry’s songs.

And speaking of striking out on her own, Part of Me also documents Perry’s slow rise to superstardom and how it was a bit of a learning curve for her close-knit family, too. Her breakout single involved “kissing a girl and liking it,” quite a departure from her strict Christian upbringing where her parents didn’t even let her listen to Michael Jackson or eat Lucky Charms for fear of getting too close to Satan’s clutches. Her father, a traveling evangelist, even worried that her success might shut down his ministry for good. But while her parents, Keith and Mary Hudson, didn’t necessarily like what she was singing about, they stood by her nonetheless. Keith admits to the camera that his platform hasn’t been affected in the least.

As for Katy’s personal beliefs, she acknowledges that she still believes in God and that she has a “one-on-one relationship” with Him, even if it looks a little different than her parents’ strict Pentecostal foundation. Those looking for deeper insight into what that means won’t find that here, as the movie dedicates most of its running time to highlighting the music, costumes, fan interactions and how all the working parts come together for a production like this.

For the record, the process of transforming the venue near you into Katy’s magical fairy land is one time-consuming endeavor, as evidenced by everyone from the busy seamstresses who make her costumes to the construction workers building the intricate sets. And while the musical numbers themselves provide a peek into how thoroughly over-the-top her performances are (in eye-popping 3D, naturally), it’s actually the stripped-down moments where Perry is sporting subtler makeup and street clothes that are most revelatory.

While tabloids offered plenty of theories on why her marriage to British actor Russell Brand ultimately crumbled, Perry is fairly forthright about what happened—and allows the camera access to her lowest points. As she sees it, as much as Perry tried to make time for her husband by having “relationship days” carved into her busy touring schedule, it still wasn’t enough. Admitting it’s much easier to make promises than actually keep them, she also indicated they had different priorities, particularly on the family front (Brand was ready to be a father, Perry says she was still a kid and therefore, wasn’t ready to be a Mom to one).

Perry covers quite a bit of ground in an hour and a half. While probably not must-see entertainment for anyone but a die-hard fan, the film does provide occasionally intriguing glimpses of what life is like from the perspective of a pop star. While most of the glitz and glamour is exactly what one would expect, there are moments where the cheery little world Perry’s dreamed up seems about as appealing as a rotting SweetTart. If anything, it brings the old adage to mind about being careful what you wish for.

But clearly, Katy seems to be having the time of her life.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking and smoking is briefly depicted.
  • Language/Profanity: Several exclamations of God’s name, plus a smattering of other profanity including as-, sh--, the less offensive alternative to bi---.
  • Sex/Nudity: Katy’s costumes, not to mention those of her dancers and fans can be on the more revealing side. Some suggestive dancing and double entendres in her lyrics, particularly in “Peacock” and “California Gurls.” The chorus of her breakout hit is about “kissing a girl and liking it.”
  • Mature Themes: While her fanbase is primarily made up of younger listeners, Katy doesn’t shy away from the sadness she faced when her marriage to actor Russell Brand ended. She addresses how love isn’t always like the movies and how promises are easier to say than actually keep.
  • Violence: None, unless you consider the occasionally sour notes she hits while she’s singing.
  • Religion/Worldview: Katy talks about how she grew up in a Pentecostal Christian family and about revival meetings and church services she frequently attended where being “slain in the Spirit” was the norm. She says while she doesn’t embrace all the things about her parents’ faith, she says believes in God and has a “one-on-one” relationship with Him. She also discusses how she didn’t feel like she could think for herself in her formative years and was banned from listening to mainstream rock music, eating Lucky Charms cereal and watching certain movies.

Publication date: July 5, 2012