Movie Review - Welcome to Me

Kristen Wiig was nominated for Best Actress at the Gotham Awards for her performance in this film. She stars as Alice Klieg, a woman who is suffering from a mental illness. She's in therapy and she's supposed to be on medication, but all that is sort of thrown out the window when Alice wins a California lottery and becomes a mega-millionaire. Her prize is $82 million in fact. Because she's obsessed with Oprah Winfrey, she decides to use her new fortune to mount a talk show but the show would only be about Alice herself, only discussing her, her life and feelings.

She's not necessarily narcissistic. She simply has a mental illness that makes her want to be what's referred to as an "emotional exhibitionist." She wants to do reenactments of moments in her life but alter it to be more reassuring to herself, often offending or upsetting other people. A lot of the comedy comes from the frustration of the small TV company trying to mount Alice's crazy reenactments, which always quickly go off the rails.

Wes Bentley (American Beauty and The Hunger Games) co-stars as Gabe Ruskin, the co-owner of the TV company and a QVC-style host himself. He catches the attention of Alice. Once she gets rich, she hijacks his show and hijacks him in more ways than one. He's initially put off by her weirdness. He doesn't realize her mental problems, but he's eventually taken by her and sees a kindred spirit in her.

James Marsden (X-Men and Enchanted) co-stars as Rich Ruskin, the other owner of the TV company and the brother of Gabe. He knows that their TV company is struggling and is on the brink of folding. He sees that Alice is essentially a cash cow that will keep them afloat. He realizes that something's not right about her but he's seemingly okay with exploiting her off-narcissism and letting her do whatever she wants as long as she pays for it.

Joan Cusack (Working Girl and In & Out) plays Dawn Hurley, the director of the show and all shows. She's annoyed and as frustrated but somehow goes along. She scoffs at Alice's antics but does her job and helps to facilitate the on-air program hosted by Alice that again always and quickly goes off the rails.

Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Machinist) plays Deb Moseley, the executive producer who doesn't just scoff. She actively scolds Rich for allowing Alice's insanity. She's one-note and it would have been interesting to see more of her.

Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption and Mystic River) plays Daryl, the therapist of Alice whom gets used and abandoned. He earnestly tries to help her, but with her money she knows he can't have much effect.

Linda Cardellini (ER and Bloodline) plays Gina Selway, the best friend of Alice. She seems to be right by Alice's side and supportive of her. She doesn't come across as money-grubbing. She just appears to be a good friend. Unfortunately, she gets a little kicked to the curb once Alice's TV show takes off. The movie concludes with Alice having to realize this, but Gina disappears from the narrative so much so that the resolution barely resonates.

There are some actors who are great but who only briefly appear and then disappear from the narrative or who barely get enough time to shine. Alan Tudyk who plays Ted, the gay ex-husband of Alice, and Thomas Mann who plays Rainer, the fawning grad-student who interviews Alice are two actors who could have been dropped and would not have been missed. Writer Eliot Laurence should have done more to make them and others not feel so superfluous.

Director Shira Piven is the sister of Emmy-winner Jeremy Piven (Entourage). She's also the wife of producer Adam McKay, former writer for Saturday Night Live and creative partner to Will Ferrell. There's a lot of juice behind this project. It's a drink though without a lot of kick to it. It's perhaps a little bit bland.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language and brief drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 27 mins.


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