Directed by Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz. PG. 95 min. Opens July 5.
A good rockumentary serves two somewhat paradoxical purposes: On the one hand, it’s a hagiography that casts its subject(s) in a reverent gold–glow; on the other, it’s a behind-the-scenes snapshot that shares mundane details with fans to prove stars really are just like us. Katy Perry’s sparkly new trifle of a doc is aces on the first count, but when it comes to voyeuristic drama, a few scenes of the singer sans makeup is as scintillating as it gets.
Most of the time, though, Perry is decked out in full Candyland regalia—including neon wigs, false eyelashes, and a dazzling array of sweets-inspired mammary accessories—for the massive California Dreams tour, which found the performer trekking around the world last year. The stage set-up is a full-on Willy Wonka fantasy: In the film’s opening scene, Perry gleefully tests out a glittery, candy-striped cannon that will spew magical goo over her stadium-sized crowds. In its concert scenes, Part of Me is spectacular. Perry’s cutesy aesthetic lends itself to 3-D, and the cameras capture vivid details and performance moments you’d never see from the nosebleeds.
As a documentary, though, it’s about as hard-hitting as a kitten. No surprise there, since Perry co-produced Part of Me with the team behind Project Runway. It’s a shame, though, because the performer’s story has some crannies that could stand to be explored. (For instance: How does she reconcile her Pentecostal upbringing with her current retinue of gays?) Vapid interviews with her family members, managers, adoring assistant, and one bizarrely intense PR flack do little to fill in the blanks. As for the gory details of her divorce from Russell Brand (a hook that factors heavily into the marketing of this film), we’re offered some vague intimations about the conflicts between busy careers. Perry provides “Firework”-worthy platitudes and bravely blinks away tears at a concert in Rio. The biggest problem here is the lack of dramatic tension: With such a highly edited version of the facts, you’d be more likely to gain insights into the “real” Katy Perry from InTouch magazine.