Loading...

Katy Perry: Part of Me Review 

Thursday, Jul 5 2012
Comments
Katy Perry: Part of Me

PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Katy Perry: Part of Me

From bubblegum-bicurious novelty "I Kissed a Girl" on, Katy Perry has built a career on glorious brain-dead–with-a-wink odes to playacting in a fantasy space of total acceptance and no consequences, sold to children with literal sugarcoating. Her hits are powerful stuff, coming from an artist who was raised by Pentecostal preachers who declared most contemporary culture, and anything involving fairy-tale–style magic, off-limits. In Katy Perry: Part of Me, those parents gush with support for the daughter who penned the chorus, "I wanna see your pea-cock, cock, cock." The film (presented in never-less-necessary 3-D) documents Perry's 2011 world concert tour to support her massive Teenage Dream record, weaving together onstage and backstage footage with interviews with Perry and her team, while home movies and video diaries dating back a decade suggest Perry has been calculatedly filming herself in preparation for this moment.

An advertisement of a product targeted at people who are already consuming it, Part of Me is completely uninterested in the contradictions that propel Perry's persona. Instead, directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz track Perry's odyssey from failed teenage gospel singer to Alanis Morissette wannabe to world-beating superstar who learns while on tour that she's broken the record for most No. 1 singles off a single album for any female star, ever. But fame, it comes at a price!

The filmmakers seem primarily interested in the tour itself as a source of B-roll illustration (the hyper-cutty pace means numbers are rarely shown from beginning to end), and so the failure of Perry's marriage to Russell Brand gives Part of Me its only semblance of a narrative arc. Brand is a peripheral figure, both in the film and, the movie insists, in his then-wife's life. Much is made of Perry's insistence on using her few days off to jet around the world to visit Brand rather than to rest.

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES - Katy Perry: Part of Me
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES
  • Katy Perry: Part of Me

Related Stories

Notable for a movie about a woman who makes a living selling a drag exaggeration of female sexuality stripped of actual sex for consumption by children, the film's most potent statements on gender come in the section describing how the show almost did not go on, like, once or twice, because Perry was so worn out from "trying to keep my marriage alive."

An early shot of a pre-celebrity Perry posing with Judy Garland's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame turns out to be Chekhovian: Part of Me later takes a cue from Garland's great A Star Is Born, depicting Perry's ability to snap out of a marriage-sparked crying jag when it's time to go onstage to sing "The One That Got Away" (the song title itself an echo of Garland's Star ballad "The Man Who Got Away"). Like Garland's character, Perry's character (and it is a character) turns personal loss into professional power, sacrificing herself to the crowd to be resurrected by their devotion.

This blatantly patched-together strain suggests that Part of Me's commercial purpose is, in part, to assimilate the tabloid narrative about Perry's off-screen life, which she presumably doesn't fully control, into the on-screen narrative of her onstage life, over which her control is total. But her savvy for self-presentation, while admirable from a business standpoint, makes for a more boring movie. You never get the sense that the camera was ever allowed to see anything that Perry didn't want it to see.

Or hear. The film is threaded through with hagiographic assessments from Perry's hangers-on regarding her talent, her cultural importance and, most laughably, her authenticity. In insisting that Perry is, as one member of the team puts it, "like a real girl" — a simile that has a range of connotations, from Pinocchio to porn — they're willfully misrepresenting Perry's appeal.

We're talking about a pop star who invented a headgear-rocking nerd alter-ego for the video for "Last Friday Night," a song about binge drinking and threesomes; she has to know she's selling a blown-out fantasy of party girl invincibility to an audience too young to recognize the gulf between a living cartoon singing ingeniously insipid lyrics, and an actual adult woman's reality.

"Thank you so much for believing in my weirdness!" Perry tells one crowd. It's maybe the most honest moment in the movie — an acknowledgement that Katy Perry's brand depends on a suspension of disbelief.

KATY PERRY: PART OF ME | Directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz | Paramount Pictures | Citywide

Related Content

Katy Perry: Part of Me
Rated PG · 95 minutes · 2012
Official Site: www.katyperrypartofme.com
Director: Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz
Producer: Craig Brewer, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard
Cast: Katy Perry

Trailer


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Katy Perry: Part of Me

Now Showing

  1. Tue 15
  2. Wed 16
  3. Thu 17
  4. Fri 18
  5. Sat 19
  6. Sun 20
  7. Mon 21

    Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, concert and dining info & more!

Around The Web

Slideshows

  • Nicolas Cage's 10 Best Movie Roles
    As video-on-demand continues to become the preferred route of distribution for a certain kind of independent film, much is being made of Nicolas Cage's willingness to slum for a paycheck, with recent examples including already-forgotten, small-screen-friendly items like Seeking Justice, Trespass, Stolen, and The Frozen Ground. (His character names in these projects -- Will Gerard, Kyle Miller, Will Montgomery, and Jack Halcombe -- are as interchangeable as the titles of the films.) Aside from citing the obvious appeal of doing work for money (a defense Cage himself brought up in a recent interview with The Guardian), it's also possible to back Cage by acknowledging the consistency with which he's taken on "serious" roles over the years.

    David Gordon Green's Joe, which hits limited release this weekend (more details on that here), marks the latest instance of this trend, with Cage giving a reportedly subdued performance as an ex-con named Joe Ransom. In that spirit, we've put together a rundown of some of the actor's finest performances, all of which serve as proof that, though his over-the-top inclinations may make for a side-splitting YouTube compilation, Cage has amassed a career that few contemporary actors can equal. This list is hardly airtight in its exclusivity, so a few honorable mentions ought to go out to a pair of Cage's deliriously uneven auteur collaborations (David Lynch's Wild at Heart, Brian De Palma's Snake Eyes), 1983's Valley Girl, 1987's Moonstruck, and Alex Proyas's Knowing (a favorite of the late Roger Ebert).

    --Danny King
  • Ten Enduring Conspiracy Thrillers
    With the approaching release this week of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, many critics, including L.A. Weekly’s own Amy Nicholson, have noted the film’s similarities (starting with the obvious: Robert Redford) to the string of conspiracy thrillers that dominated American cinema during the 1970s. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ten of the most enduring entries in the genre -- most of them coming from the ‘70s, but with a few early-‘80s holdouts added in for good measure. This is by no means an exclusive list, and more recent films like Roger Donaldson’s No Way Out (1987), Jacques Rivette’s Secret Defense (1998), Tony Scott’s Enemy of the State (1998), Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana (2005), and Redford’s own The Company You Keep (2012) speak to how well the genre has sustained itself over time. Words by Danny King.
  • Behind the Scenes of Muppets Most Wanted
    "The endurance of the Muppets isn't just the result of the creative skills of Henson and collaborators like Frank Oz, or of smart business decisions, or of sheer dumb luck," writes this paper's film critic Stephanie Zacharek in her review of Muppets Most Wanted. "It's simply that the Muppets are just ever so slightly, or maybe even totally, mad. Man, woman, child: Who can resist them? Even TV-watching cats are drawn to their frisky hippety-hopping and flutey, gravely, squeaky, squawky voices." Go behind the scenes with the hippety-hopping Muppets with these images.

    Read our full Muppets Most Wanted movie review.

Movie Trailers

View all movie trailers >>

Now Trending