There were a whole lot of duds on the way to this week’s Netflix Pick. Bullet Head missed the mark. The Fifth Estate is bloated. Even Sam Rockwell couldn’t get Don Verdean out of a rut. Who was Absolutely Anything aimed at? A kids movie for adults? The casting news of Kristen Wiig as Cheetah in Wonder Woman II lead me to Welcome to Me.
Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) is an odd woman. Her ticks and intricacies aren’t entirely her fault. She suffers from borderline personality disorder. Her closest relationship to the world at large is with the Oprah Winfrey show. Old VHS tapes run on loops so often Alice has them memorized. Alice’s routine trip to the corner store gains her a lottery ticket that turns out to be worth 84 million dollars.
Alice tells off her therapist (Tim Robbins) and stops taking her prescribed medication. She believes its her calling in life to host a talk show. Her newfound wealth means she can fund the show herself whether people want to see it or not. Alice’s honesty and eccentrics comes off as refreshing, or at least captivating. Her show is something of a hit. Success seems to go to her head. Alice steps on the only person who has been close to her, her childhood friend Gina (Linda Cardellini).
The first and only feature written by Eliot Laurence. One of only two films directed by Shira Piven. Welcome to Me is backed by legendary comedy producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Although Ferrell nor McKay wrote/directed the movie; their fingerprints are all over it. From the way its shot to the subtle jokes being more powerful than the full on jokes. There is plenty to catch on a multitude of layers in this quirky comedy. The movie walks the line of drama and comedy so well you watch it for Alice Klieg. Not Kristen Wiig, Alice Klieg.
Wiig’s performance is transformative. She’s known best as a comedian. Her time on SNL ensured she’ll never shake that. Why would she want to? While Wiig is best known for her comedic chops her movie career delves so much deeper. Wiig’s best movie roles fall in line with Welcome to Me. Alice Klieg is a heightened version of a persona Wiig has crafted through many movies. Movies like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Skeleton Twins, and Bridesmaids.
Wiig is more than capable of carrying the movie alone. Lucky for the audience, she doesn’t have to. Linda Cardellini has been an actress to watch since she came into her own on Boy Meets World. More recently she starred in the phenomenal Netflix Original, Bloodline. Cardellini plays the straight man to Wiig’s bizarre character. At times Cardellini is there to be the supportive side of the audience. Other times she’s there to make accepting Wiig’s character more palatable.
As the movie unfolds, more and more incredible talent shows up. Joan Cusack produces on Alice’s network. Wes Bentley plays a somewhat simple, but well meaning, TV star. James Marsden sees Alice as nothing but a paycheck and is hateable. Alan Tudyk doesn’t get enough screen time but he’s always a pleasure. Tim Robbins does a good amount of grounding the ridiculous comedy as Alice’s therapist.
How a movie this good, with these stars, and this much talent behind the camera can go unnoticed is a mystery. Welcome to Me got a modest limited release and grossed a paltry 600k. Luckily Netflix provides.