Before the advance screening, if you'd asked me if I was a Katy Perry fan I wouldn't have had an answer for you other than, "Uhhhhhhhh." And that's a judgment-free "uhhhhhhhh," by the way. I didn't have anything against her. But she wasn't Morbid Angel, you know? I would have had a resoundingly positive answer for you if someone had made a concert film/documentary about them.
And then, while watching it and wearing the heart-shaped 3D glasses handed to me by the publicist, I realized that I am a fan and that I pretty much like every single one of Perry's songs, especially "California Gurls." And while I knew she was a PK (that's "preacher's kid" for those of you who didn't grow up in the Bible Belt) I didn't know just how hardcore her family really was. And they were. She wasn't allowed to watch The Wizard of Oz, for starters, and Lucky Charms cereal was banned in her house because luck is magic and magic is made of Satan. In other words, she was hard-wired to become a person who wears cotton candy underpants while squirting whipped cream from cans affixed to her breasts. Those same parents have since attended her concerts and also appear in the "Hot N Cold" video. They have chilled out significantly.
Perry was also hard-wired to become the kind of bright, winning personality drawn to marrying a bad boy like Russell Brand, the man whose presence turns this whole movie upside down and shakes it until the crying comes out. You see him in the opening shots, as his blue-wigged wife calls for a circle of good-thoughts-and-prayers-and-stuff before a sold-out show. Her dancers, all dressed like human peppermint sticks or wearing big cupcakes on their heads, wiggle in close to Perry for the hands-on moment. A guy in a furry, purple cat costume -- who goes by the name of Kitty Purry -- is somewhere nearby, too. Brand finds his way into the circle but later than the rest. The look on his face suggests that he knows he's way out of his element and it's a sad foreshadowing of the future moment when the tall, slinky, always-oily-looking Brit will turn serpent in her Garden of Eden.
It gets worse: when it all finally goes down, Perry dances perilously close to verbalizing the fear that her own ambition helped ruin the relationship, even though the evidence suggests that all she really did wrong was marry a guy who can't behave himself. Worser? The audience is treated to the grim discomfort of watching the happiness curtain get pulled way back as handlers try to comfort the fragile star (sorry, every single fan in Sao Paolo, Brazil, but you're about to learn that all the grinning you saw on stage the night she performed for you was dredged up from whatever place performers keep their "show must go on" game faces). Worst of all? It pulls focus and upstages the music for stretches that run far too long. It ain't Stop Making Sense; in fact, you get more truncated hits than full-length songs. They couldn't have cut short some of extended sadness or the isn't-she-great testimonials to show us more evidence of how truly great she is on stage?
It's kind a drag because, ultimately, no matter how humanizing the marital woes are, what you really want from her is the show, the fulfillment of the promise she's selling: that the human soul can and should consist solely of lemon drops and strawberry jam and that every day on Earth is meant to be lived in a coyly sexy Candyland where you get to bump butts with a dancing Kitty Purry and hear comforting songs about what a magical firework display you are. Maybe there'll be more of that in the extended DVD release. I'm asking as a fan.