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'Katy Perry: Part of Me': If you see only one 3-D concert film this summer ... ★★½

Michael Phillips

Talking Pictures

10:53 AM EDT, July 3, 2012

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Paramount Pictures does not lie: The chipper, no-warts-and-all tour chronicle "Katy Perry: Part of Me" is indeed the 3-D movie music event of the summer. The only one, I believe. Unless Christopher Nolan's"The Dark Knight Rises" turns out to be in 3-D, featuring duets sung by men in peculiar facial accessories.

The Perry film, which never lingers long on any one number or mood or faaaabulous outfit, was shot last year, when the pop star and wide-eyed emblem of sexy (but not too) Southern California kookdom (never enough! never enough kook!) crisscrossed the world on her "California Dreams Tour." A brief marriage to comedian and actor Russell Brand provoked the eventual heartbreak all megastar divas must suffer, if not necessarily with Russell Brand, en route to shining even more brightly on stage, smiling through tears.

The one true moment of poetry in "Part of Me," which was directed by "Top Chef" and "Project Runway" alums Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, finds Perry below an arena stage, standing alone on a little elevator platform, ready for her entrance. She looks crestfallen, unsure, a global phenomenon temporarily lost. Then, the crowd's chants of "Kay-Tee! KAY-TEE!" begin, and the twirly top thingies she's wearing on her breasts seem to pick up speed, as if propelled not by hand-held remote but by the very love of the crowd. I'm not sure what this moment says, other than "Look at 'em go!" But all great art contains some essential ambiguity that cannot be diagramed.

Brand is glimpsed briefly backstage in what might be called the Warren Beatty "Truth or Dare" cameo appearance. What do we learn from the film, other than the only thing that looks cool in this pointless 3-D context is laser stage lights shooting at your face? We learn that Perry, eternal gurl-woman, has a grandma in Vegas. We learn that her father wears black eyeglasses resembling Irving "Swifty" Lazar's. She works hard, probably too hard. She always wanted to be a star, and the bi-curiouser and curiouser "I Kissed a Girl" did the trick, followed by many other tricks.

Twitter should be thrilled with the on-screen exposure it receives here, as Perry's clearly logo'ed tweets (along with those of others) appear as pop-up punctuation amid the general, well-manicured tumult. I find Perry likable in her camera-friendliness. She's one of these characters who, for all we know, came out of the womb holding a 1984-model video camera, filming away: She has that Jenny McCarthy-but-raised-a-Pentacostal-Christian shamelessness and drive, and a great smile. The movie, whatever. But when you see and hear so many fans of so many backgrounds expounding on what "Firework" means to them, you realize that while a song may or may not be for you, it most certainly is for others.

mjphillips@tribune.com

'Katy Perry: Part of Me' -- 2 1/2 stars

MPAA rating: PG (for some suggestive content, language, thematic elements and brief smoking)

Running time: 1:35

Opens: Thursday