Think this is just another concert movie about a pop diva? Not even close.
"Katy Perry: Part of Me" could be the world's most entertaining motivational speech, an optimistic, inspirational pitch for gleeful optimism and self-empowerment, tempered by cold reality, and delivered by a young woman whose experience and personality clearly are life-changing catalysts for her fans.
"Katy Perry: Part of Me"★ ★ ★ ½
Starring: Katy Perry, Russell Brand, others
Directed by: Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz
Other: A Paramount Pictures release. Rated PG. 95 minutes
Few concert documentaries get beneath the surface of its subject. But Katy Perry is one of those rare human beings who carries her soul on the surface, so this doc -- codirected by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz -- can't avoid tapping into her uplifting spirit.
Perry, as fans know, grew up the daughter of Pentecostal Christian ministers in Santa Barbara, Calif. where she was shielded from movies, non-Christian music and TV shows. Even Lucky Charms cereal was forbidden because "Lucky" meant "Lucifer" to her parents.
After recording a religious album as a teen, the struggling young singer/songwriter took off for L.A. and spent five years spinning her wheels until Capitol Records finally released her 2008 major-label debut "One of the Boys."
"Katy Perry: Part of Me" chronicles the performer's exhaustive, yearlong, 124-show tour across Europe, South America and Asia.
It's a splashy, flashy, eye-popping 3-D movie filled with eye-candy (the spinning pinwheels over Perry's breasts are a visual riot) and regular candy. The sets are built around lollipops and suckers. Perry also dons a costume resembling a paper strip with light-up candy buttons.
"Part of Me" consists of edited songs, archival videos, and interviews with people who work with Perry, and, to no surprise, everyone loves her, even her sister Angela, her personal assistant.
"Part of Me" is no hard-hitting, behind-the-scenes tell-all film detailing backstage battles and ego-locking conflicts. It protects Perry's brand in every scene.
Yet, this doc doesn't shy away from how Perry's failing marriage to Russell Brand almost crushes the singer as she's about to perform before her a sold-out crowd in Brazil.
If you're a Perry fan and you see "Part of Me," you'll never be able to listen to "The One That Got Away" the same way again. It's a rare moment in a concert movie when you want to hug the singer and tell her it'll all be OK.
Perry inspires that level of compassion.
Some viewers might think parts of this movie have been scripted and some shots set up for maximum emotional effect.
I don't think so, because if you've been followed around by a camera crew every day for a year, it becomes part of the scenery, virtually invisible. Perry appears to be as genuine as anyone can be under constant scrutiny.
The thing that comes across with palpable intensity is the raw love that fans express for Perry, whose "you can do anything" theme reverberates through her songs, especially in her self-worth-enhancing anthem "Firework," the climax to this, the most engaging self-improvement seminar ever put to music.
Tony Robbins, eat your heart out.