Written by Chris Morgan
When Welcome to Me was making the festival rounds, I read a piece wherein the writer said they had mentioned UHF, in a positive fashion, to Kristen Wiig as a comparison for this movie, and Wiig then blanched at that comment. At the time, my presumption was that Wiig was blanching at this because UHF was a box-office flop. However, after seeing Welcome to Me, I feel like Wiig may have just been alarmed that anybody could be reminded of UHF while watching this movie.
UHF is a goofy, ridiculous comedy that uses the notion of somebody taking over a television station as a vehicle for Weird Al Yankovic to do silly comedy bits and pop-culture references. Welcome to Me is a searing, dark comedy about a woman falling apart on television. It’s Being There or The Cable Guy before it’s UHF. Wiig was almost assuredly not worried about this being a box-office flop. It never had much hope for box-office success to begin with.
Wiig stars as Alice Klieg, a woman with borderline personality disorder who, after deciding to stop taking her medication, wins a huge lottery pot. Klieg is a television obsessive, and in particular an Oprah obsessive, and so she goes down to a station that specializes in infomercials and buys herself a two-hour-long television show, entitled Welcome to Me, where she just gets to talk about herself. Shockingly, she also happens to be narcissistic and selfish and generally awful, and her mental issues only exacerbate this.
In the process, Alice becomes a success, but destroys pretty much everybody else around her. There is a solid cast in support of Wiig as well, such as James Marsden, Linda Cardenelli, Joan Cusack, and Tim Robbins. However, this is Wiig’s show. She’s made her bones playing weird characters, but this performance twists that into something much darker, and more impressive. She’s a talented actress, and she clearly made a bold venture in doing this film.
If you imagine this movie as “a Kristen Wiig character gets her own TV show,” you may be surprised and taken back by this film. It’s definitely worth seeing, though, if you are in the mood for a weird, dark comedy. Welcome to Me isn’t trying to “say anything” about television or mental illness or anything like that. It doesn’t have the hubris to try and pull that sort of stuff. It just lays out this particular situation, and lets it all play out, with laughs and discomfort along the way.
Welcome to Me will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on Jun 16. In addition to the movie, there is a brief making-of featurette that feels fairly perfunctory. It’s pretty boilerplate stuff, but may be interesting to some.