“I found a pubic hair on my pillow in the shape of question mark.”
A woman with borderline personality disorder named Alice, has a massive life changing event when she wins the lottery. After bringing in the millions, the Oprah obsessed woman decides she wants to host her own talk show, the problem is she only wants to talk about herself. Aided in her journey by a greedy studio head, and the cast and crew of failing programming, Alice frivolously spends her money to make her dream come true, against the advisement of her therapist.
Welcome To Me is the latest film in which Kristen Wiig tries to shake off the sketch comedy background for roles with more depth. This time around she plays the neurotic borderline crazy Alice, whose egocentric tendencies driver away all of her closest friends, when ironically she is craving attention at all times. Wiig’s ambition to tackle roes with more pathos than pratfalls has tempted many an actor into similar vanity projects only to lead to absolute disaster. Wiig is unfortunately not the exception. Welcome to Me is very meta, it’s a twist regarding a TV actress who is trying to be taken seriously in film, starring as a crazy person who wants to be taken seriously on TV. This is without a doubt the singularly most interesting part of director Shira Piven’s offbeat satire.
Wiig as Alice is certainly interestingly unique, if not a little vain. Meant to be a satire on the over medicated populous while providing an emotionally raw undertone, Wiig just doesn’t seem a great fit for the role, that comes off almost completely campy. The comedic timing needed to pass off a portion of the character of Alice is there and Wiig is actually very funny, but the schtick wears thin and when you’re looking for more she is not able to deliver in the most poignant moments leaving you with a nice little quirky character that never transcends the goof. This is certainly a step down from a superior performance in The Skeleton Twins, where she was able to give an intensely deeper portrayal, due in large part to Bill Hader bringing out the best in her.
Unfortunately in Welcome To Me, there is no counterpart to balance or play off of, it’s all on Wiig’s shoulders and the load is just a bit much for her to carry alone. Sure there are other character and actors, but for the most part they never become greater than a footnote. Tim Robbins plays Alice’s sympathetic therapist, trying to get her back on her medication. There are a few exchanges between the two that lead to some slapstick moments for Wiig, but for the most part he just plays like a mirror meant to reflect Alice’s issues that she refuses to acknowledge.
The employees of the network in the form of Wes Bentley and James Marsden are completely under utilized. Bentley essentially plays a better functioning version of Alice, and Marsden is the greedy enabling producer that reluctantly gives way to all of Alice’s outrageous demands, as long as the check clears. All of this could have been quite comical if it wasn’t played so straight, especially because Alice is clearly a danger to herself and even others. Welcome To Me is queasy material at best, while they try to play out Alice’s rampant disabilities as odd quirks, making for a largely uneven film that can’t figure out if it’s comedy or drama.
The film seems like it was meant to be a much grander experiment. There are moments where it’s meant to be a satire of the media or even a take down of a narcissistic character, but instead it remains focussed on Alice. Mostly captivating its viewership by allowing us to see her reconcile and recover. The problem is that it only really scratches the surface of that arc. There is a lot of areas to be explored but because there are so many you only get glimpses, which stunts the film’s emotional subtext and leads to a pretty shallow, but still funny, product.
Welcome To Me is borderline disturbing. With no added surrealism the whole thing just derails. The cast is largely misused, and Wiig is not able to bring the depth needed to make this a complete drama nor is she given the right materials to make this a farcical comedy. Instead this is a movie in limbo. Poor character development, bad writing, and a strangely bumpy film in terms of emotional range, make this on a lesson in how the inability to focus narrative, can destroy a film. Stepping back from the abyss this film plays like a the classic TV idiom of a charity benefit telethon. It all just feels so cheap and exploitative. The story of a woman so delusionally sick that she is under the impression her biography has broad cultural significance, and the people around her who enable this vivid dementia to the point where it becomes cringe inducing.
2/5 Do Better Bro