Welcome to Me (2014)

Cast includes: Kristen Wiig (Brides Maids), Linda Cardellini (Mad Men), Joan Cusack (Hi Fidelity), Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games), James Marsden (X-Men), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Road to Perdition), Tim Robbins (Mystic River)
Director: Shira Piven (Step Brothers)
Genre: Comedy | Light Drama (105 minutes)

Huffington Post

It’s 12:15… the alarm wakes Alice, the TV is showing an infomercial for Perfect Polly… “So life like, you won’t believe your eyes.” Alice hasn’t turned her TV off in years. There are 16 new messages on her phone. Actually, most of them aren’t that new. She listens to the one from Daryl… “I had no idea you weren’t picking up your meds.” Daryl is Alice’s shrink, but she puts more stock in Oprah, who tells her to “think about your calling and begin to honor it.” Alice regularly buys a CA Sweepstake lottery ticket and never misses the drawing on TV. As she watches this week’s drawing… one by one, they call every number on Alice’s card… a winning of 86 million dollars. That’s when Alice gets a chance to actually be on TV, instead of just watching it. For her interview, she has a prepared statement… “I was born in 1971. I’ve been using masturbation as a sedative since…” [Cut!]

In a visit to Daryl’s office Alice has another prepared statement to read… “Our visits are no longer required.” Alice is no longer taking Abilify because her therapy now includes money and string cheese. “What do you plan to do?” ask Dr. Moffet. “Something really big,” says Alice. From the audience of a Palm Dessert local TV broadcast, Alice manages to get herself on stage again, where she return to her “masturbation as a sedative” prepared remarks. “It’s my second time on TV this week,” she later tells Gabe and Rich, whose show is on its last legs. That’s when she tells them about the 86 million dollars. Wow, that was lucky! “Winning has nothing to do with luck,” Alice corrects them. She tells them about her “bipolar… boarder-line personality disorder.” Alice has an idea for a TV show… an Oprah-style talk show with “me as the host.” Is it about current events? No. Interesting guests? No. “What kinda stuff do you want to talk about?” they ask. “Me,” says Alice. The TV station is in such financial doo-doo, they gratefully accept her check for 15 million. “Oh… and I wanna come in on a swan boat.”

The first show is about Alice’s grudge against “Joanna Spangler, who’s a liar.” It pretty much goes downhill from there… except that the production values get richer and Alice’s on screen persona gets more Oprah-like. It’s easy to imagine many ways a story about a bipolar woman off her meds with a TV show could become quite unhinged, but Welcome to Me has a brand of “crazy” that’s uniquely Kristen Wiig. She walks a very fine line between funny and pathetic, between laughable and embarrassing, between sad and cruel. At times we can’t decide whether to squirm in our seat, feel sorry for her, hate her or laugh at her. This film will probably appeal to a narrow audience range… sensitive enough to appreciate the low-key humor but not easily offended by comedy about mental illness. Alice offends everyone… her doctor, her audience, her only friend and her parents, who accuse her of being “an emotional exhibitionist who reenacts every time someone upset her.” But Alice is convinced that she has great insights to convey… “It’s not about luck.”

popcorn rating

3 popped kernels

Off her meds, a bipolar woman buys herself a TV show about herself

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Language)
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release 
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished Realism
Nutshell: Bipolar woman gets a TV show
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment

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