Welcome To Me Blu-ray Review
After the hilarious BRIDESMAIDS and her standout work on Saturday Night Live, Kristen Wiig has earned my respect enough to be a driving force toward watching a film. So a starring role in a small film produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay sounded like an under the radar, odd ball comedy, right up my alley. Unfortunately, the quirky indie film directed by Shira Piven, WELCOME TO ME, jumps off the deep end without learning how to swim.
Wiig plays Alice Klieg, an obviously troubled woman with a mental illness that is never fully defined nor developed. After winning $86 million in the Mega-Millions lottery, she decides, for an unclear reason, to quit her much needed meds prescribed by her psychiatric doctor (Tim Robbins). Realizing her love for Oprah Winfrey, she buys her own talk show. She does exactly what she wants to do on the show and in doing so forgets about the few people who actually support her.
When I first read the premise, I thought, what a funny idea for a movie. But the film never goes any deeper than the strange antics of a mentally ill person. Most people around Alice thinks it’s pretty ridiculous to televise the show she is creating, however no one really tries to stop or help her. So it’s confusing to watch all these people enable an obviously sick person. While other employees (Wes Bentley, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh) think it’s in bad taste to enable this lunatic and is just bad business in quality programming, the head producer (James Marsden) is happy to take her money.
Demanding to ride in on a swan car, talking incoherently only about herself without guests, and baking a meatloaf cake while the live show continues to film, are just some of the antics that are passed off as “funny.” The most strange thing about WELCOME TO ME, is that her talk show by the same name actually starts to pick up viewers. Don’t get me wrong, I understand our society is obsessed with reality television and train wrecks, but we also have very short attention spans. So it’s hard to believe that the popularity of someone sitting quietly eating a pie for half an hour in a two hour show wouldn’t garner a channel flip.
As the show gets bigger so does the production and the creativity. It’s never clear where some of the creativity comes from, nor does the film ever show Alice before she got off her meds to understand what her best friend, Gina (Linda Cardellini) actually liked about her. The talented supporting cast really do a lot with very little. Wiig is still funny enough to find the humor in an otherwise humorless situation. Her deliveries and quirks are good for a few laughs, particularly when having actors reenact moments where she felt wronged. But WELCOME TO ME, like its lead character, never seems sure of its identity. Does it want to be a comedy or a drama? In the most out of place scene, Alice walks through a casino completely naked. This might be an impactful moment if the film was dealing with depression and mental illness in a responsible, serious tone, but it never comes close to tackling those issues.
I was surprised that WELCOME TO ME took such a dark route only to create laughs at a truly sick person. Yes, her weird show ends up reaching and helping people but only because the film says so, not because there is any logical reason behind it. I’m not sure if the film’s message is to parody people’s fascination with watching anything on television or simply believes it’s nothing more than an awkward situational comedy in the vain of BBC’s The Office. In either case it doesn’t work.
Unlike THE TRUMAN SHOW or ED TV, which were 24-hour channel programs, WELCOME TO ME fails to pose larger questions or look inside the individual. Those films were funny with an interesting commentary that strangely enough seemed more plausible. Despite not tackling any big issues, WELCOME TO ME’s biggest crime is simply not being very amusing.
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p, 1.78:1) The picture is rather flat in how it is shot, but ultimately suffice.
Audio: (Dolby TrueHD 5.1) The sound is also adequate.
Featurette (7:59): A very basic behind the scenes look, interviewing cast and crew where they compliment the film and characters without any real specifics.