Starring Katy Perry, Angela Hudson, Russell Brand • Directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz • Age restriction: A • Releases 7 September
There's a moment – near the end of the film – where a sobbing girl in a brightly-coloured, lollipop-inspired dress tests out a smile while she waits to go on stage. It slips briefly before she fixes it to her face, and she makes her entrance to the screams of thousands of fans.
It's a magical moment in the movie that follows Katy Perry through a rollercoaster year on tour in support of her massive hit album Teenage Dream. We watch as the 27-year-old star kicks off her world tour on a massive high – fresh-faced and make-up free as she tries on her costumes, embracing her then-husband Russell Brand after her first performance. We see how hard Katy works, how dedicated she is to her fans. But as her crazy schedule takes its toll, with massive shows every few nights in a new city, we see the strain on Katy as she juggles her show dates and her marriage, flying around the world to try to make time for Russell marriage work.
These backstage insights are sprinkled with snippets from songs on her massive California Dreams world tour, childhood home movies and video diary entries from a teenage Katy as she tries to break from her ultra-Christian roots and make her way as a pop star, and interviews with people closest to Katy – her sister, brother, parents, managers, assistant – all of whom attest to how down-to-earth, lovable and hard-working Katy is. And we never see anything to make us think any differently.
Katy Perry: Part of Me is, like all of the recent big-screen pop concert films, never going to show anything that depicts Katy in a bad or negative light, although it professes to at all times be showing the "real" Katy – make-up free, goofing around with her assistant, hanging out at a water park with her sister, visiting her grandmother or sobbing on her dressing room chair. And you know what? At the end, I didn't care. I wanted to believe that this was the Real Katy Perry. She's the girl-next-door, everybody's cool friend or awesome older sister – and I wanted to go out on a night on the town with her. She is depicted as fun, silly, unstoppable, and an absolute inspiration. This film is fantastic PR for the star – and with Katy as one of the film's producers, it's clear that she is not unaware of this.
If there's anything this film shows, it's that Katy is smart, shrewd and more involved than most people would think. She's no industry-conducted pop product, just showing up when she's told to. She's hands-on, eager to be there, and strongly connected to her fans. Even on her worst, most exhausted days, Katy drags herself out of bed, paints on a smile, and makes time for fans young and old. She's a hero – and this is superbly savvy marketing.
The film, directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, is massively high-energy and very emotionally manipulative – something that they don't take too much pains to hide. It is, however, very efficiently manipulative – in spite of myself, I may have teared up once or twice, and got goosebumps on occasion. And like all of these pop-PR-concert-films, we will only ever see one side of the story. Katy, in this instance, is portrayed as the martyr in her marriage, sacrificing her time and energy to fly around the world to see Russell. Her then-husband, in fact, only appears a handful of times – and his appearances are all the more tragic because we know what's coming.
The live-show segments of the film are eye-popping, her choreography and staging incredible. Her "live" vocals do sound like they have been cleaned up quite a bit, and the 3D is minimal – compared to Justin Bieber's astounding Never Say Never last year, it's hardly there at all – but the performances are a nice glimpse of what this pop princess is capable of. It's a pity, though, that we never see a full performance – much like Katy herself, the film is hyper-energetic, bounding from one song to the next, one city to the next, one topic to the next.
But these scenes aren't what you'll be paying for. It's the glimpse into the blinding light that is Katy Perry that is worth the ticket price. Fans will love her all the more, and even non-fans may be swayed to her own brand of weirdness.
Love Katy Perry? Enter our awesome Part of Me competition here.