Welcome to Me

Posted on April 30, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language and brief drug use
Profanity: Very strong and crude language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, drug use
Violence/ Scariness: Tense confrontations, brief violence
Diversity Issues: Treatment of people with mental illness
Date Released to Theaters: May 1, 2015
Copyright 2015 Alechemy
Copyright 2015 Alechemy

In “Welcome to Me,” Kristen Wiig plays Alice, a depressed woman diagnosed with borderline personality disorder who wins $86 million in the lottery. She uses much of it to create a one-woman television series that feature monologues about her life and re-enactments of some of her most traumatic moments. This is the most recent in a series of Wiig’s depressed/repressed roles in mostly indie films like “Girl Most Likely,” “The Skeleton Twins,” “Hateship Loveship,” and “Bridesmaids.” Even as the romantic interest in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” she played a character so low-key she came across as diffident. No one is asking her to do a perky rom-com, but it would be nice to see her try something different.

Alice is off her meds. She makes inappropriate comments that make the people around her feel uncomfortable, although she has the support of her parents, her ex-husband and his new boyfriend, and her best friend Gina (Linda Cardellini). And she gets a lot of support from Oprah, via VHS tapes of her talk show, which Alice plays so often she knows them by heart. Oprah’s exhortation to find “something you were born to give,” to “figure out your calling and then begin to honor it” fascinates and inspires her, though probably not in the way Oprah had in mind. When she wins the lottery, she goes to a tiny television station that has been barely surviving on infomercials, run by two brothers, the three-times married on-air talent Gabe (Wes Bentley) and the behind-the scenes guy Rich (James Marsden). “I’m Rich,” he says. “No, I’m rich,” she replies.

Alice gives them $15 million to create a daily two-hour series for her to talk about herself. Oh, and she wants to enter on a swan boat. Soon there is a string of applicants for roles in her re-enactments of difficult and traumatic moments like the time someone took her make-up or the time Gina thought she did not look good in a bikini. Her comments are bizarre snippets of what she has absorbed from television mixed with more bizarre assertions and confessions, all delivered in near-monotone. “I have a prepared statement,” she says as though everything is a press conference, even to her family.

Is this one of those “crazy people are less crazy than normal people” movies? Or a comic but sympathetic portrayal of the challenges of mental illness? Or a satire of our media-saturated age? Despite excellent performances all around, especially Tim Robbins as Alice’s therapist, it does not succeed in any of those categories. The movie opens with a quote from Montaigne: “I study myself more than any other subject. That is my physics. That is my metaphysics.” But Montaigne drew insights about the human condition from that study, which neither Alice nor this film is able to manage.

Parents should know that this movie includes very strong language and explicit and crude sexual references and an explicit sexual situation.

Family discussion: If you could re-enact a moment from your life, what would you pick? If you had $86 million, what would you do with the money?

If you like this, try: “The Skeleton Twins” and “Girl Most Likely”

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