You could probably learn more about Katy Perry reading Wikipedia or watching YouTube than sitting through her biopic-concert film, “Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D.” While the movie promises to show a side of the pop star audiences have never seen, it only plants her on a pedestal and becomes a 1-hour, 37-minute PR piece for everything Katy.
“Part of Me” follows chart-topping artist Katy Perry on her worldwide “California Dreams” concert tour promoting her Grammy-nominated sophomore album. The film chronicles Katy’s upbringing in a stern Christian household and shows how she managed to follow her dreams to become the successful megastar she is today.
Instead of actually informing the audience about the obstacles Katy conquered to achieve her goals, every moment serves as an opportunity for someone to tell us how talented, hard working, down-to-earth and committed Katy is in every aspect of her life. All of her encounters with family and friends—yes, even dear old grandma—feel awkward and staged. Everyone acts like they are having “natural” conversation while it all feels as scripted and phony as anything you would see on reality television.
Her warm greetings and weepy interactions with fans lack authenticity. Directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz make a point to include plenty of slow-motion shots of the concert audience laughing, dancing and singing along to Katy’s songs—just to remind us that they are, in fact, having fun. Meet-and-greets with fans are equally uncomfortable—watching Katy feign surprise as she feels a baby inside a fan’s pregnant belly and constantly introducing herself saying, “Hi, my name’s Katy!” is just as excruciating as it sounds.
The most nauseating aspect of “Part of Me” is the way it handles her recent divorce from now ex-husband Russell Brand. With the constant reminders of how hard Katy tried to make their marriage work and the tearful, “triumphant” moment when she decides not to cancel a concert despite her heartbreak, the movie is dead set on ensuring no one leaves with an inkling of sympathy for Mr. Brand.
The film even shows Katy at her sister’s bridal gown fitting to illustrate how emotionally taxing the experience is for her. Every instant is spent idolizing or pitying Katy, but it is hard to feel anything at all when the directors try so desperately to puppeteer the audience’s emotions.
The concert portions are as bland as they are frequent. The songs often coincide with what is going on story-wise (“I Kissed A Girl” when Katy gets her big break, “Firework” when she overcomes the painful divorce, you get the picture). The concert’s extravagant sets and costumes are eye-popping, but Katy frequently gets lost in the giant performance happening around her. And the 3D? If you want to shell out a few extra dollars to see some bubbles pop off the screen that is totally your call.
No hard feelings for Katy herself—she churns out music that her target audience loves, puts on a delightful show and seems like a cool enough person to get a beer with sometime. The problem, more so, is the concert movie formula itself. Many recent concert films tend to be so one-sided and concentrated on creating an image that represents a pop star’s brand rather than showing a person fans can actually relate to.
It is difficult to say how “Part of Me” will fare at the box office. Although Perry has sold over 80 million albums and digital tracks worldwide, the Twitter fan premiere for the film on Monday was not even half full. With the exceptions of the recent Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus movies, concert-documentaries rarely rake in the dollars movie executives hope for (looking at you, Jonas Brothers).
“Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D” is an unnecessary confection reserved for only the most devoted fans and will leave many audiences wondering: Will the real Katy Perry please stand up?