Katy Perry: Part of Me

Twenty years ago, the biggest pop star at the time released a concert film, and Madonna: Truth or Dare gave us a behind-the-scenes look a woman who spent her entire adult life, it seemed, in front of cameras.

But just as ol’ Madge has long since made way for Katy Perry at the top of the Billboard charts, the same can now be said when it comes to pop documentaries, too.

Katy Perry: Part of Me is obviously designed for the pop star’s fans (particularly the tween/young teen set), providing a fun look inside Katy’s candy-colored world as she belts out all her hits in spectacular fashion and introduces us to everyone from her best friend to her grandma to her costume designer.

But there’s another layer to the movie that’s surprisingly intimate. Not only do we see the start and end of her relationship (and marriage) to Russell Brand, we learn where she came from and how her ‘overnight’ success took the better part of a decade. While much of Truth of Dare seemed orchestrated and played solely for the cameras, Part of Me actually has several ‘real’ moments that give you at least a sense of the person behind the pop star exterior.

Following Perry on her year-long “California Dreams” tour in 2011, Part of Me is filmed primarily in Los Angeles, but stops in Tokyo, Brazil, and Europe are also highlighted. And through it all we learn more and more about who she really is (as much as you can, anyway, in a 90-minute movie), from her best friends, relatives, and her tour crew.

First-time directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, who produced last year’s Justin Bieber doc, surely consider themselves much luckier this go-round; Perry’s backstory is infinitely more interesting (and, well, just… more) than Bieber’s– a fact most evident in the Brand portion of the movie.

He’s only seen a few, brief times, but his presence is felt throughout, culminating with the heartbreaking night when Perry learns that her marriage is over. It’s a quiet, private moment that will remind everyone that she’s not all pinwheel bras and rainbows.

Sure, there are times that Part of Me could come off as a little self-indulgent (it’s a documentary movie about her, how couldn’t it be?), but both die-hard and casual fans will be able to sit back and be very entertained.

The costumes are crazy, the sets look like they’re straight from Candy Land, and the music (as most everyone these days knows) is infectious. At one point Perry asks rhetorically, “How could you ever be too cartoony?” By the time she launches into the rousing “Firework” near the end, we all know the truth– the cartoony goodness is only part of her.

4/5 stars