For 105 minutes, Welcome to Me gives full reign to the brilliant, deeply eccentric gifts of actress Kristen Wiig. With great material, that would be something to raise the roof about. This isn’t that. Wiig plays Alice Krieg, a woman diagnosed with borderline personality disorder who memorizes Oprah episodes on old videotapes, says jaw-droppingly inappropriate things in a sing song-y voice — most of which she reads off prepared statements — and lives a quietly desperate, utterly self-absorbed life in an apartment cluttered with old lottery tickets and statues of swans. Winning $86 million in the lottery, she goes off her meds, bids a premature adios to her shrink (Tim Robbins, low-key and excellent) and decides she’s going to make her mark on the world by blowing $15 million on the services of a team of on-the-skids infomercial producers (James Marsden, Wes Bentley, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Joan Cusack) and creating 100 two-hour TV shows called Welcome to Me.
The show — starring, conceived by, and written by Krieg — is a can’t-turn-away trainwreck, a whack job psychodrama of equal parts loony cooking tips, re-enactments of hurtful episodes from her life, wacky self-help philosophizing, and outright psychotic stuff like neutering dogs. Instead of her shrink slapping at very least a 72-hour psychiatric hold on her, Krieg and her show develop a cult following all the while its star grows more and more alarmingly untethered and abusive to her friends and ex-husband (Linda Cardellini and Alan Tudyk).
Wiig, not surprisingly, plays her role full-throttle, not asking to be liked, delivering highly uncomfortable laughs, and real pathos for her suffocatingly self-obsessed character. There’s a fascinating rough idea here for a character, for a sketch, maybe even for an ongoing meta “reality” TV series, but no one involved with Welcome to Me seems to know what to do with what they have. Directed by Shira Piven (Fully Loaded) and scripted by Eliot Laurence (The Big Gay Sketch Show), the film runs out of steam fast and plays like a deeply odd, half-cooked movie that’s all too happy to celebrate its own weirdness without bothering to have a point. Like the heroine it portrays, the whole thing is a curio: a queasy, unpleasant thing wrapped around a cry for help, and a self-indulgent one at that. **