Candy-colored Katy Perry, working and working

"Part of Me" is a visually spectacular tour flick and origin story of the hard-driving star. But the box of treats holds little music.
"Part of Me" is a visually spectacular tour flick and origin story of the hard-driving star. But the box of treats holds little music. (Paramount)
Posted: July 07, 2012

Reprinted from Thursday's editions.

Katy Perry: Part of Me is not a concert film (although there is ample performance footage); it is not a chronicle of this Candy Land Gaga's life (although you do learn a great deal about her prefame years).

Part of Me is Perry's visually spectacular testimonial to her own indomitable determination to follow her dreams. The fact that the film lends itself to some really colorful Pinterest pages is merely a bonus.

The image that will stick with you is of Perry setting the spangled pinwheels on her chest spinning, striking a pose, holding up her sparkly microphone, and smiling to beat the bandwagon as the elevator platform she is standing on raises her up to stage level to face her adoring fans. Showtime!

It's how Perry began every stop on her yearlong globe-girdling "California Dreams" Tour, just before breaking into her first song, "Teenage Dream." Because we have already seen all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into producing a super-splashy arena tour like this (seven tour buses! 16 trucks!), we're continually stoked by the plucky professionalism of Katy's opening. The first few times.

Round about Day 214, fatigue has set in - for the viewers. But even more so for Katy. Because in addition to the notorious grind of touring, whenever there's a down minute, she's jetting off to spend time with her new hubby, Russell Brand (they've since split).

He is, as Warren Beatty was in Madonna's similar on-the-road documentary Truth or Dare, a rather ghostly figure in the documentary, a rare presence in the dressing room and clearly annoyed when he is caught on camera.

Katy spends far more time in the film with her friends Mia Moretti and Shannon Woodward (of the Fox sitcom Raising Hope) in settings like the Cat Cafe in Tokyo, where one spends a mint to drink tea in a frilly room filled with pampered cats adorned in human fashions.

A large Part of Me is devoted to Katy's origin story - how she grew up in a strict Pentecostal household. Her younger brother notes, "We weren't allowed to eat Lucky Charms growing up because luck was of Lucifer."

Thanks to a superabundance of home video we watch Katy grow from saucer-eyed teen gospel singer to an angry Alanis-wannabe who was dumped by her first label. It's a long and so-familiar-it's-almost-tiresome hike to "I Kissed a Girl" and pop success, a trek that is not all that interesting except to Perry's fans, who presumably would go to any movie she made.

What is worth seeing - and shelling out the 3-D premium for - is Perry's eye-popping showmanship. The wigs, the makeup, the costumes. She has, for instance, a white onesie designed to look like vintage candy buttons on tape.

There's a definite Land of Lollipops fantasia going on in her show. For the encore, "California Gurls," she puts on a Hershey's Kisses top and sprays the crowd with a whipped cream cannon. Sweet or suggestive? You decide.

Talk about a quick-change artist. Perry's miraculous serial costume changes on "Hot N Cold" would have Harry Houdini doing a double take.

All of this performance footage is splendidly shot and edited. Where you get shortchanged is on the music. Surely it wouldn't hurt to hear a few songs in their entirety, even if we had to give up some of the endless meet-and-greets with fans we have to sit through.

Part of Me is most intent on pulling back the curtain to show you how hard Katy worked to get where she is, and what a trouper she is - setting the pinwheels turning in Brazil only hours after Brand shattered her heart long distance.

Unless you're already a Perry fan, you may come away from Part of Me feeling taken advantage of. Like you just paid someone to talk about herself for two hours.


Katy Perry: Part of Me **1/2 (out of four stars)

Directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz. With Katy Perry, Shannon Woodward, Mia Moretti, Tamra Natisin. Distributed by Paramount.

Running time: 1 hour 37 mins.

Parent's guide: PG (sexual themes, smoking)

Playing at: Area theaters


Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv. Read his blog, "Dave on Demand," at www.philly.com/dod.

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