What happens when a mentally ill woman who is obsessed with Oprah wins the lottery? She buys her way onto television and her very own talk show, of course. In Welcome to Me, Kristin Wiig plays Alice Klieg. She lives her quirky little life in a California desert town and spends most of her time watching and memorizing Oprah shows (on VHS) and devouring infomercials. She is in court-mandated therapy, but has decided that she doesn’t need any meds because she can control her emotions through other means, or so she firmly believes. So when she suddenly comes into $86 million, she decides to live out her dream to have her own talk show and finds a struggling production company that is more than happy to take a huge chunk of her winnings. And what is the show about? It is all about her. And it’s called “Welcome to Me.”
As you can imagine, a show all about a mentally ill woman from her own perspective is uncomfortable, to say the least. You can’t really laugh at a sick person, or can you? As her show gets started, she has lots of bizarre ideas that she gets to play out — revenge fantasies as dramatic reenactments against all the people who ever hurt her, cooking segments that prop up her theories about food as psychiatric medication, even dog neutering on air. And then there are the “prepared statements” about herself that she reads on air (and off) that go way over the “appropriate” line. It is a very odd mix, and soon she has an audience tuning in to watch her train wreck of a show, America’s favorite kind of entertainment.
Welcome to Me ultimately feels a lot like one of Wiig’s Saturday Night Live skits that goes on too long and can’t figure out how to end. She is great in it, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. Her character is one very quirky dimensional and you don’t really know a lot more about her at the end than you did at the start. Sadly, the film wastes a lot of good actors, too. How do you cast Joan Cusack and Jennifer Jason Leigh and James Marsden and not give them anything substantial to do? In its own way the film is a mirror of the talk show, all about Kristen Wiig with everyone else kind of ignored. It is only her performance that makes it worth watching. If you’re a big fan of hers, go see it in a theater (if you can find it.) Otherwise wait for it on Netflix or Red Box and be prepared to squirm.