Our post-“Bridesmaids” love affair with Kristen Wiig has been tested a few times in the eccentric choices in roles she’s done since, but never moreso than with “Welcome to Me.”
The quirky, clueless Plain Jane self-absorption thing that tested our patience in “Girl Most Likely” and “The Skeleton Twins” wears out its “Welcome” in this indulgent farce, which has her playing a mentally ill LOTTO winner.
Alice Klieg is a harmless head case, making progress with her therapist (Tim Robbins), maintaining one lasting friendship (Linda Cardellini), taking her meds and watching the “Oprah” re-reruns she has memorized off her worn VHS tapes.
Then she hits it big. To her, $86 million dollars means her Winfrey-fed self-actualization mantras have paid off. She resolves to dump the doctor, skip her meds and buy time on a failing home shopping channel and emulate her idol, doing a show all about “Me.”
She’ll talk about herself, compulsively, settle old scores with “recreations” of big scenes from her limited, grudge-packed life. She’ll spend whatever it takes to realize her unfiltered, uncensored and seemingly unscripted vision.
“Oh, and I wanna come in on a swan!”
Desperate, cynical channel owner Rich (James Marsden, on the money) takes her cash. And he bullies his sad, introverted TV pitchman brother (Wes Bentley, also good) to keep Alice in their clutches by courting her off-camera.
The channel’s production team (Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh) are appalled. But Alice won’t be denied, and Rich won’t refuse the money.
The show is “wacky” in those cute movie mental illness meets TV-gone-wrong ways, with segments Alice titles “I can still smell you” and “I got everything, you got nothing.” She gives meatloaf cake recipes and starts a dog rescue and on-camera neutering service.
And, as happens in such movies, she becomes a cable TV phenomenon.
Whatever screenwriter Eliot Lawrence and director Shira Piven (“Fully Loaded”) were aiming for — spoofing a culture which has taken to celebrating narcissistic eccentrics, self-help hucksters and the like — gets lost in a simple and simply excessive Wiig star vehicle. Supporting players shrink into the shadows and any suggestion of a moral debate over letting this crank on the air disappears with them.
Wiig’s adorably offbeat timing, her loveable loser who doesn’t realize she’s a loser gift, is exhausted in what is essentially a “Saturday Night Live” sketch and charactger given 100 minutes of screen time.
Exhibitionists are always the last to know we’ve lost interest in their exhibition.
It’s just not that funny, not that sad and not on target, satirically. This “Welcome” isn’t nearly welcoming enough.
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language and brief drug use
Cast: Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wes Bentley, Tim Robbins, Linda Cardellini, Alan Tudyk, Joan Cusack, Loretta Devine
Credits: Directed by Shira Piven, script by Eliot Lawrence. A Millennium release.
Running time: 1:45