If you don't like Katy Perry then don't go and see this film. If you've never heard of her, then here is a quick heads up about her and about this (self-produced) movie. After kicking away from a very religious upbringing (while retaining her faith), and paying some serious dues, Perry hit it big with the self-aware and mildly salacious single I Kissed A Girl and the excellent album it came from, One Of The Boys. More hits followed as Perry worked her little Minnie Mouse strawberry flavoured socks off touring the album across the world in a series of relatively small gigs. The second album (discounting an Unplugged fill-in), Teenage Dream, enjoyed massive success and spawned 5 (and counting) major hit singles. Perry toured this album with a major stadium worldwide tour throughout 2011 featuring a two hour show laden with dancers, costumes, effects and so on. 3D footage of tour performance forms the backbone of this film as it tells Perry's backstory and also provides backstage footage of the tour and also the disintegration of her relatively brief marriage to bad boy comedian Russell Brand.
Despite being a 60 year old Englishman with two grown kids - hardly part of the Perry demographic, and certainly not one of her "KatyCats" - I have a lot of time for Miss Perry. If nothing else, she is a grafter, and I respect that highly. She is also a strong individualist with a huge sense of fun as regards style and presentation. Her songs are melodic and often lyrically witty and saucy (though with a regrettable leaning towards crassness in places on the more recent album). Her vocal style, while limited to essentially a full-throated pop blare or else falsetto, suits her material.
The concert footage - all of it interrupted by cutaways and voiceovers - made me wish that a full 3D concert movie was available. I enjoyed it, but was enormously frustrated at not being able to experience a single number all the way through.
The non-concert footage is interesting (and one must bear in mind that the edit was almost certainly under Perry's complete control). I was already aware of most of the personal history, but it was interesting to meet family and friends and to understand that she has a strong support structure in place. The scale of the more recent tour was impressive, and it was good to see her enthusiastic interaction with her fans, especially the young ones: not all acts are as available, even if only in rationed doses. Also interesting and moving were the sequences shot around the marriage breakdown. Kudos to Perry for including them (I contrast this with Paul McCartney's concert DVD immediately preceding his marriage breakup, where Heather Mills has been edited out completely, while she is all over the previous one). These sequences don't take sides, they simply present a glimpse of the impact on Perry towards the end of a major tour, and her professionalism in the face of difficult personal circumstances.
I suspect that the best stage performances feature a considered performance persona - a "stage face", if you like - fuelled by talent and part of the personality of the real person behind the mask. Sometimes the two meet, and the audience sees the real person through the stage mask: that is magic, and it happens here.
A film which started out having me go "Oh dear" at the gushing tributes from young fans left me with increased respect for Perry, and the feeling that maybe she's not a bad role model for impressionable young girls.