Judge Patrick Naugle is a teenage dream.
Be yourself at all costs.
Katy Perry seemingly went from unknown singer to overnight superstar faster than you can say "I kissed a girl and I liked it." The one-time religious singer has become one of the hottest musicians on the planet, selling out stadium sized tours and reveling in a stage persona that's one part sugar and one part spice. Perry's historical background and 2011 tour are showcased in her first full length motion picture Katy Perry: Part of Me now available on Blu-ray care of Paramount Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
2011 was a whirlwind year for Katy Perry. Her chart topping album Teenage Dream was still soaring on the charts. During that year Perry embarked on a massive pop music tour that included dozens of costumes changes, complex stage props, and her biggest hits. In between her successful recording and touring career, she also met actor/comedian Russell Brand, fell in love, got married, and got divorced. Perry's exciting, successful, tumultuous year is documented both on and off stage in Katy Perry: Part of Me.
There are those who lament the downfall of music. Usually it's anyone past the age of 40, complaining that today's current music trends are just junked up useless noise. As I grow older, I find myself having to fight those same urges; I'll hear a song on the radio and haphazardly think to myself, "This is seriously what passes as music today?" It's a rare performer who can capture the attention of children, teens (the music industry's main target audience), and anyone old enough to buy liquor. Katy Perry has, in some instances, been able to pull of that magical feat. Her music features catchy hooks and positive messages, often making her appealing to both the young and old.
Katy Perry: Part of Me is a documentary and a concert, two halves that run together smoothly. The filmmakers touch lightly upon Perry's history, including her Pentecostal Christian family and strict parents. There's discussion about Katy and her sibling's upbringing in what was a very oppressive household; they couldn't eat Lucky Charms because "luck" is from Satan, and the only movie they could watch was Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (*shudder*). Perry would eventually go on to make Christian music, which was all she was allowed to listen to growing up. After hearing Alanis Morissette's smash album Jagged Little Pill in the mid 1990s, Perry's world opened up. Her parents had a hard time adjusting to their daughter's new lifestyle and subsequent move to Los Angeles, sayinh they wouldn't watch if she ever got on MTV (you know, when they actually played music). The documentary includes home video footage of Katy as a child singing in churches and on stage, as well as Perry at the age of 18 talking about what she wants her life to be.
The non-musical portions of the film are chock full of interviews with those who work closest with Perry; assistants, dancers, mangers, producers, make up artists, stylists, fashion designers, and choreographers. Just to balance things out, there's also interviews with some of Perry's family including her mother, father, sister, grandmother, and brother. Even some of the industry's biggest names—Rihanna, Adele, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga—show up in quick cameos. Unfortunately, some of the segments feel strained. An encounter with Perry's grandmother is clearly staged to show she still knows how to keep in touch with her roots. Everyone is enthusiastic to talk about Perry and has nothing bad to say (I'm not saying there's a lot of bad to discuss, but it does all seem one sided). At one point, Perry meets with sick children backstage and offers them the chance to come up onstage. I know I'm getting old and cynical when I see moments like this and can't help but think the whole reason they're included is to make Perry look empathetic and generous (she may well but, but I never trust that Hollywood is giving me the complete unbiased truth).
For those interested, Katy Perry: Part of Me does touch on her relationship, marriage, and eventual divorce from Russell Brand (Get Him To The Greek), whose footage is included in the finished film. Strong kudos to the filmmakers and Perry for not shying away from discussing the relationship and eventual breakup. That said, footage of Perry crying comes across as rather distasteful. I tend to believe a public person should keep their private life private. Anything more and you're exploiting your woes for financial gain, or just looking for quick sympathy. Combine that with the fact that you never know what's real and what's for show and the inclusion of the footage seems dubious at best.
The concert performances and what goes on behind the scenes is the most fascinating part of Katy Perry: Part of Me. I'm always interested to see how so many people are able to come together to make such a massive concert work. Perry's stage show is certainly a production of staggering proportions. The Sweet Shoppe themed musical performances look great, with music that is bouncy and distinctly sugary. I especially liked Perry's tribute to the late Whitney Houston singing "I Want To Dance With Somebody," while bringing various teens onstage. I almost wished the movie had focused more on the music than the story. After all, most of us are drawn to a musician's stage persona more than their back story (interesting though it may be).
If there's a theme that runs through Katy Perry: Part of Me it's that being yourself is the best way to move through life. Perry notes she moves to the beat of her own drummer, and people have gravitate towards that idea; the beginning of the film includes interviews with kids telling how much Perry's music has changed their lives and allowed them to just be themselves. It's a noble sentiment and, considering much of today's music, the idea of finding yourself is downright quaint by comparison. Katy Perry: Part of Me is just like Perry's music: light, not very substantial, but fun while it lasts.
Presented in 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen, the image quality looks great most of the time. The concert footage and recent interview segments are all bright, vivid, and crystal clear. When the film switches to older footage of Katy as a kid or teenager, the image is less impressive. Given that much of the old footage was shot on video cameras or cell phones, it can look slightly rough and not very clear. The mediocre quality isn't Paramount's fault—it's just the inherent nature of the source material.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is an aggressively bombastic mix, especially when the tour kicks in. The front, rear, and subwoofer all get a healthy workout, whenever Perry takes the stage. Even some of the backstage footage sounds better than expected, with Perry's songs constantly in the background enveloping the viewer.
The Blu-ray release includes a few bonus features. Two bonus performances of "Last Friday Night" and "Waking Up In Vegas," a short clip of Katy visiting her grandmother ("Grandmother: Thinking of You"), a featurette on Perry performing at the Grammy's shortly after her divorce, a behind the scenes featurette titled "California Dreams Tour: Behind the Scenes," a standard def DVD Copy, and a digital copy.
Katy Perry: Part of Me is a must own for her diehard fans. The concert footage is bubbly and fun, but the offstage drama sometimes feels forced. It's worth a rental, if you enjoy the singer's music.
Not Guilty, "if you can afford me."
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