Movie review: Wiig navigates mental illness and comedy in "Welcome To Me"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It can be difficult for actors to leave the shadow of “Saturday Night Live” when they transition to the big screen, but Kristen Wiig is rapidly becoming one of my favorite alumni.

Since her breakout in “Bridesmaids,” Wiig has picked some solid indie-type projects — Jennifer Westfeldt’s underrated “Friends With Kids” is recommended — but her biggest departure came in last year’s “The Skeleton Twins,” a dramedy in which she played the estranged twin sister of Bill Hader’s character.

Wiig’s latest is an odd dark comedy that probably fits more in the “Skeleton Twins” category (only with more laughs). The movie is more flawed than her performance, but she continues to push herself.

Alice Klieg (Wiig) is living alone in a humble apartment when she wins $86 million in the lottery. Her answer to “what’s the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?” is apparently go to her therapist (Tim Robbins) to tell him she was quitting her meds and wouldn’t be requiring his services.

The thing is Alice really does require his services (and the meds), as she has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a disorder associated with extreme, often inappropriate emotional reactions and impulsivity.

Alice then decides to pay a pair of small-time TV producers (James Marsden and Wes Bentley) to produce her own TV show in which she airs a massive amount of emotional baggage in front of a live studio audience.

“Welcome to Me” is a bittersweet comedy that sometimes uncomfortably uses Alice’s disorder as a comedic crutch, but generally lands with its heart in the right place, thanks largely to Wiig’s ability to connect heart with Alice’s extreme behaviors.

While Wiig’s take on a sort of Oprah with a mental disorder gets “quirky” laughs in the bizarre context of a TV show, there’s a sweet pathos to the character under that. And, oddly enough, the show itself functions as its own sort of therapy.

The tone here is similar to Will Farrell’s sort-of departure as a relapsed alcoholic in “Everything Must Go” — funny with an underlying sadness and redemption.

Supporting characters aren’t fleshed out particularly well, and the uneasy lines between playing mental illness for laughs remain throughout, but Wiig makes “Welcome to Me” a thoughtful grown-up comedy.

Photo courtesy of Alchemy

"Welcome To Me"

Opens Friday

3 stars out of 4