Katy Perry: Part Of Me (2012)

Documentary Featuring: Katy Perry, Angela Hudson, David Hudson, Keith Hudson, Mary Hudson, Glen Ballard, Mia Moretti, Russell Brand.

Director: Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz
Rating: PG (for some suggestive content, language, thematic elements and brief smoking.)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Date: July 5, 2012
Home Video Release Date: September 18, 2012
North American Box Office: $25.3 Million

Insurge Media, Imagine Entertainment, Perry Productions, Direct Management Group, AEG Live, EMI Music North America, Pulse Films, MTV Films, Magical Elves Productions, Splinter Films, and Paramount Pictures.

Documentary Feature Film.  No writers credited.

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1/2 (out of 5 stars)

Continuing the now annual trend of pop stars making documentary films centered around concert tours, Katy Perry follows Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana), The Jonas Brothers, Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, and the cast of Glee in providing a behind-the-scenes look as to what life is life in the world of arguably the biggest female pop star on the planet right now.  And while the film is carefully constrained to a PG rating for families, despite including the singer’s sexually unhinged song “Peacock”, Katy Perry: Part Of Me is a surprisingly open book on the singer’s life during a tumultuous 2011.  Perry found the most extraordinary of heights professionally, conquered the world on her massive 124-city globe-trotting California Dreams world tour, and saw a marriage collapse during all of it.

And here’s the thing that makes Katy Perry: Part Of Me different from most of these other films – the film is pretty great and rather astounding how much Perry lets come through in a documentary that is supposed to be a standard life-on-the-road-is-so-challenging-but-oh-so-rewarding style of documentary, but reaps much greater insights and benefits.

Happily married to actor and comedian Russell Brand at the outset of 2011, Perry begins preparations for a year-long world tour as her empowerment anthem “Firework” reigns the pop music world, scoring as as her third-consecutive #1 single from her “Teenage Dream” album.  Nervous and bottled up in Lisbon, Portugal, Perry gathers everyone together for a all-hands-in group pow-wow and then looks around for her husband.  Skittishly aware that he is on camera and far removed from the happenings, he leans a hand in and Perry moves into position.  Seeing Brand in that moment is disarmingly curious, unexpected, and an indicator that things may be not as great as people perceived.

Perry is without question a superstar and she absorbs into the role effortlessly.  We learn about her unique back story from her and her siblings and her traveling pastor parents, who restricted and shielded movies, music, and pop culture from their children.  What they could not suppress were Perry’s gifts as a singer and songwriter and we learn that Perry attempted to make a go of it in contemporary Christian music as a teenage singer/songwriter performer.  She released an album, which no one bought, and the musical career of a then-Katy Hudson seemed to be one-and-done.

Persistent as anyone, Perry broke away from the boundaries imposed upon her and at 17, moved to Los Angeles and brought her pop-oriented recordings to Glen Ballard, the producer behind Alanis Morissette’s game-changing 1996 rock album.  From there, the persona of Katy Perry took root and become a reality.  Writing hundreds of songs, she saw demos get listened to and then rejected.  Two complete albums were cut, recorded, and rejected by record labels.  However, Perry’s career was saved due to an exiting executive with Columbia Records.  Perry ended up with Capitol Records and the rest is history.

Breaking through in 2008 with her provocative #1 hit, “I Kissed A Girl”, Perry has become a global superstar, the likes of which see multi-million stage productions carried all around the world.  Seeing Perry, a newlywed, who shares at one point that while she was very clear with Russell Brand about what her 2011 was going to be like prior to tying the knot with him, she insists on making time to see him every two weeks.  Her plan is an inspiring, if not, exhausting scenario.  Tour for 2 weeks, flying from country to country and city to city, then take 3-4 days off and see Brand.  Then fly back, tour for 2 weeks, and take time off.  As observers, viewing all of this after the fact, it is genuine commitment that defines Perry – to her fans, her career, and her husband.  When meetings fall through the cracks and Brand’s schedule does not comport to Perry’s and Brand does not fly out to see Perry when he has time in his schedule, the cracks begin to fissure across all of Katy Perry’s endeavors.  And seeing this play out on screen is heartbreaking to say the least.

Truth is, Katy Perry is next to impossible to hate.  Like any megastar, she becomes oversaturated, overplayed, and her fame is everywhere, which initiates a backlash of sorts.  Unlike the 2011 Justin Bieber documentary for example (this is directed by two of that doc’s production team, incidentally), Katy Perry gives the impression that she is hiding nothing.  Her willingness to be open and unobtrusive in capturing her 2011 year is refreshing and eye-opening.  Near the end of the tour there is a heartwrenching sequence moments prior to a performance in Sao Paolo, Brazil.  Perry is seen doubling over in emotional and physical exhaustion, appears inconsolable at the realization that her personal life is beyond repair, and unable to muster a response to her staff about how she is doing and whether she can go forward with the night’s show.  Ever the professional, her ability to put all of that aside and smile through a second breakdown while in position to take the stage is simply incredible to witness.

Documentaries such as this verge on hagiography and Perry herself is one of the Executive Producers of the film, so that must be acknowledged.  Where Katy Perry: Part Of Me scores is in its organic purity and those revelatory moments other stars have been fearful in revealing to their fans.  It becomes very clear why Perry has a legion of loyal fans and devotees in every corner of the globe.  They believe in her message, her reciprocated belief in them, and she really appears to not have an ego about herself; or at least one tempered a great deal when compared to her peers.

SHOULD I SEE IT?
YES
  • Katy Perry fans will see this a bunch of times.
  • For those interested in the pop superstar, Katy Perry: Part Of Me gives a much more vivid and revealing look at the artist.  Other artists have shied away from revealing so much.
NO
  • Pop music stars executive producing their own documentary is not a documentary and nothing more than a vanity piece in your view.
  • You don’t like, care, or even know who Katy Perry is.