Katy Perry 'Part of Me' carefully crafted

11:49 AM, Jul 5, 2012   |    comments
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(USA Today) -- She's a coquettish, kooky G-rated sexpot who sings catchy pop songs and self-empowerment anthems while wearing Day-Glo-style wigs and curve-hugging candy-motif costumes. That outsized persona looms even larger in Katy Perry: Part of Me (*** out of four; rated PG; opens Thursday nationwide), the latest in a run of 3-D concert movies that have varied from sublime (U2 3D) to subpar (Glee: The 3D Concert Movie).

Perry's flamboyant stage show, a kaleidoscopic fairyland of upbeat music, frisky dancers and wacky fashions, makes fine use of 3-D effects. But elsewhere, the medium is wasted, even ill-fitting, considering the wrenching turn the film takes offstage when Perry's marriage to comedian/actor Russell Brand hits the skids.

Part of Me follows Perry during her 124-show California Dreams world tour as she performs, rehearses, interacts with fans and skips rest to jet off for rendezvous with the barely glimpsed Brand.

However, his presence is keenly felt in her reaction to his calls and texts. In a telling sequence, she lies catatonic and sobbing backstage at a venue in Brazil. She rallies to greet fans, then collapses in tears moments before a hydraulic platform lifts her to the stage. Just as the spotlight catches her face, she beams a smile to the cheering throng, displaying the steely showbiz drive that saw her weather rejections and setbacks along a rocky rise to superstardom.

Interviews and clips cover her now-familiar narrative: Perry's parents, traveling Pentecostal ministers, shielded her from pop culture. Younger brother David says even Lucky Charms were off limits, "because luck is of Lucifer."

We see Perry attempt a career in gospel music, recalibrate after discovering Alanis Morissette and then push against industry forces that want to cast her as the next Jessica Simpson or Avril Lavigne when she just wants to be "the first Katy Perry."

As with any of these self-produced, brand-building vehicles, it's difficult to assess the authenticity of Perry's big-screen portrait, shaped by handlers, friends, family and gushing Katy Kats. But her zeal, geeky enthusiasm and generous spirit feel genuine.

Does Part of Me plumb the depths of her soul? Hardly. As billed, it's a part of Perry she's willing to share. Her skimpy outfits reveal more than this smartly crafted film, which plays up Perry's effervescent personality and colorful biography without exposing a private life she has guarded since I Kissed a Girl stormed the charts in 2008. Expect a big juicy screen kiss, not a kiss-and-tell.

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