That Katy Perry is so down to Earth, so darned cute that you can almost forgive her all the questions that her bubble-gum tunes invite from young
“Mommy, what’s a ‘menage a trois?'”
Never mind, dear. And forget that “put your hands on me in my skin-tight jeans” and “took too many shots” and raiding our liquor cabinet stuff, too.
Pop’s reigning tart gets what amounts to a warts-and-all treatment in the 3D concert-and-more documentary “Katy Perry: Part of Me.” Sure, there’s plenty of that image control that Miley Cyrus/Justin Bieber and their handlers put on display in similar films.
But here we see Perry in more unguarded moments, from that time she heard her song on the radio, or out of makeup when she wakes up in the morning (not a good look for anybody), weeping over her failed marriage to British bad-boy Russell Brand until the moment the spotlight hits her on stage.
She treats us to the grind, the years of struggle, the failed attempts to launch a career, the hard work of a concert tour and the “fairytale” Mission: Impossible that was her marriage.
Nooo, nobody saw THAT coming.
Taking her inspiration from Madonna’s “Truth or Dare,” Perry allowed camera crews a year’s worth of access, threw open her video blog diary entries and invited the preacher-parents who raised her to express mild displeasure at the skin-baring temptress whose breakout hit was the bi-curious come-on, “I Kissed a Girl.”
And through it all, through her cotton-candy-colored hair hues, her candy-store concert sets and cheesy looking stage costumes, all her chart-topping success, Perry comes of as genuine and perhaps more a product of her environment than her “rebellion against Pentecostalism” pose would have you believe.
Meeting Keith and Mary Hudson, before Katy broke big and afterward, you’re struck by how dolled up and painted-on they seem. They’re just as showbiz as she is, always have been.
The concert bits (3D adds little) showcase that little hiccup/wail that has become her vocal signature and the sing-along fun of her shows. “Part of Me” captures her at her peak — when everybody knows the words because every single she releases becomes a hit. The film’s onstage and off-stage mix shows how she manages cheer-leader level choreography (her backup dancers do the heavy lifting) in a very complicated stage show and how much she’s a trooper — soldiering on despite fatigue, heartbreak, the works.
Yeah, she’s made the martyr in the marriage break-up. Yeah, she’s an image, an icon, the product of marketing savvy and her own input.
But in the end it doesn’t really matter if you can’t tell whether she’s got a handle on vocal pitch, with the studio’s auto-tune to help, that you can’t tell if she’s singing to a backing track or to the seemingly thinly-peopled band on stage with her. It doesn’t matter how much she contributes to the songs she co-writes with some of the same people who made Britney Spears a star.
“In Another Life” is a great break-up song, and in this context, left in the lurch by a louse, she gives it her all. And that’s all we have any right to expect.
> MPAA Rating: PG for some suggestive content, language, thematic elements and
> brief smoking
> Cast: Katy Perry, Angela Hudson, Keith and Mary Hudson
> Credits: Directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz. A Paramount/MTV Films
> Running time: 1:40