Although my Top 40 radio days are long gone, I must admit I find Pop Princess Katy Perry‘s music ~ and persona ~ infectiously irresistible. So during a recent trip home to visit family, my 10-year-old niece had little problem twisting my arm to take her to see Part Of Me, which documents Perry’s latest world tour, her struggle and subsequent rise to stardom, and elements of her personal life.And I’ve gotta say, I enjoyed every minute of it. I laughed, I cried, I was moved, I was even inspired. Perry has traversed quite a path from gospel/Christian singer (she was raised in a strict Pentecostal household by a preacher father and his wife) to the fearlessly daring pop force she is today. After all, her first hit single was “I Kissed A Girl” (and she liked it).
Perry is the real deal. She writes her own songs, (which she seems to churn out with remarkable consistency and speed), 13 of which have become hit singles, five off of one record alone (Teenage Dream), tying her with Michael Jackson and becoming the only female in history to do so. She has a remarkably powerful and beautiful clear voice to boot. Perry demonstrates a sincere interest in and devotion to her fans (at times forcing herself to personally greet fans backstage in spite of utter exhaustion), and she in turn (deservedly) has masses of devoted fans, as evidenced by the sold-out shows and the adoring comments of the many interviewed throughout the doc. She is unfailingly loyal, surrounding herself with and employing many of her friends and family from early on in her career to now. Perry was by no means an overnight success, which makes it all the more gratifying to see her reach the enormous success she has today, particularly in light of her true talent, hard work, drive and never-give-up attitude, not to mention because she appears to be a genuinely good person.
And boy, does the woman know how to put on a show! I can speak from actual experience, as I was lucky enough to be treated to Katy’s California Dreams tour about a year ago ~ it was a colorful confection of sights and sounds, dance and multi-media, and more costume changes than you could possibly count…I felt as though I’d entered into a real-life version of the board game Candyland, only set to a great soundtrack sung by a vibrant, wide-eyed beauty. The film does a nice job of parlaying the feel of the concert onto the screen…though in all honesty (and which is all too often the case), I’m really not sure why it needed to be in 3D. (And while I don’t know about the rest of the country, we didn’t even have the option to see it in 2D where I viewed it.)
Interestingly, what ended up moving me most in the film was the (quite tactful) account of the dissolution of Perry’s marriage to British actor/comedian Russell Brand, which took place over the course of her tour. While the reasons for their break-up are not clearly stated (though alluded to), it is the emotional fallout for Perry that proves most poignant. It is heartbreaking to see the usually bright-eyed and positive woman crumble under the weight of the heartache and disappointment…and is in turn equally heartening to see her pull herself up by her bootstraps and “go on with the show” in spite of her sadness in order not to disappoint her throngs of fans. The through-line of her relationship with Brand and the refreshing emotional honesty she exhibits adds a meaningful layer of depth to the portrayal of Perry, the person, making her all the more relatable and sympathetic.
While Part of Me is appropriately titled in that it of course only presents certain slices of Perry and her life, I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting look at an ever-growing Pop phenomenon.