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Welcome to Me (2014)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/16/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/5/2015
People in show business become known for many things. Some for their looks, some for who they are in relationships with, and some for their behavior. But, most make their mark with a particular talent or an act. Kristen Wiig spent nine years as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and became well-known for playing over the top characters, such as Gilly, the Target Lady, and her impression of Kathie Lee Gifford. She was clearly never afraid to "go for it" and the line between energetic and annoying was a very fine one with Wiig. Since leaving SNL, Wiig has gone into movies and played an array of characters. Welcome to Me shows the actress attempting to blend her comedic and serious sides.
Wiig stars in Welcome to Me as Alice Klieg, a woman who lives by herself, never turns off her TV, and sleeps until noon everyday. Alice has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Once a veterinary assistant, she now spends her days watching reruns of Oprah, buying lottery tickets, and occasionally seeing her one friend, Gina (Linda Cardellini). One day, Alice wins the lottery. She immediately visits the local television station, where she is able to get a meeting with brothers Gabe (Wes Bentley) and Rich Ruskin (James Marsden), who are down on their luck. They see that luck changing, as Alice states that she wants her own talk show and that she'll spare no expense to make it. So, Welcome to Me is soon up and running, where Alice talks to the camera, cooks, and has actors re-enact pivotal moments from her life. The bizarre show begins to gain a cult following and Rich doesn't mind taking Alice's money, but is he exploiting her? And how is this affecting Alice's condition?
Writer Eliot Laurence has struck upon an interesting kernel of an idea with Welcome to Me. Who amongst us has not fantasized about being interviewed by someone like Barbara Walters. Now, take that one step further, and given the fact that daytime talk shows continue to be popular, I'm sure that many have wondered what it would be like to have their own show. Wouldn't it be great to interview people and to spotlight things in life that you love? ("Today on Mike, it's Italian horror movies!") Welcome to Me could have easily ran with that idea and created a movie which offered wacky characters and presumably odd situations. However, Laurence opted to expand on this and give Alice an mental health diagnosis as well. Now, we have someone who has difficulty with interpersonal interactions hosting their own show. The result is at time predictable, but also shocking places.
The problem with Welcome to Me is that one this central premise is laid out, the movie doesn't know where to go or on what to focus. In short, this intriguing idea gets lumped in with many other things. Alice's relationship with Gina becomes strained. Due to the fact that Alice has difficulty creating and maintaining personal boundaries, she finds herself attracted to Gabe and an audience member (Thomas Mann). Rich clearly has no problem sponging off of Alice, while producer Deb (Jennifer Jason Leigh) wants to wash her hands of the whole thing. With her newfound hobby, Alice stops taking her medications and ignores the advice of her doctor (Tim Robbins). All of this is occurring in a movie which is only 87 minutes long. Therefore, Director Shira Piven is forced to jump back and forth between subplots.
This creates a real disconnect with the movie. The segments on the show are often bizarre and surreal, and admittedly entertaining. But, they are wedged up against scenes showing just how damaged Alice is and how her condition leads her to do self-destructive things. Welcome to Me wants to be a "dramedy", but it doesn't gel very well, leaving the viewer unsure how they should feel from scene to scene. This unease is compounded by the fact that we aren't sure how we should feel about Alice. As is common with Borderline Personality Disorder, her behavior is very off-putting. We want to feel sorry for her, but she is often unlikable.
I wouldn't say that Welcome to Me comes close to being a documentary, but it does attempt to deliver a somewhat realistic look at the eccentric behavior which can manifest itself in someone with a mental health diagnosis. This is combined with the interesting story of a woman who is given the change to fulfill her wildest dream. However, Welcome to Me never finds its groove. There are a few laughs, and Wiig manages to be sympathetic at times, but you're going to walk away either wishing that you had just seen a more realistic story about mental illness or a wacky comedy about a off-the-wall talk show.
Welcome to Me rides a giant swan onto Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Alchemy Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 19 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good -- the image is rarely soft -- and the depth is what one would expect from a dramedy. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. There isn't an abundance of dynamic effects here, but the audience at the show does emit from the rear channels. We also get some well-placed stereo effects as things happen on either side of the screen during the show.
The Welcome to Me Blu-ray Disc contains only one extra. "Featurette" (8 minutes) contains comments from the cast, Director Shira Piven, and Writer Eliot Laurence, who talk mostly about the film's plot and the characters. The piece is made up mostly of clips from the film.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long