Saturday, May 30, 2015

Welcome to Me (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Welcome to Me

With "Welcome to Me" helmed by Shira Piven, Kristen Wiig (SNL, Bridesmaids) takes a dark cue from Jim Carrey ala "The Truman Show" in her role as Alice, a fanciful but disturbingly narcissistic fan of talk shows and Oprah Winfrey.

Alice, a former employee of an animal shelter is a shut in, who struggles with emotional instability. Her apartment is filled with dusty VHS tapes of Oprah dispensing bright wisdom.

One day she stops her medication and buys tons of lottery tickets. Over pudding she watches and waits. Then it happens.

Alice wins.

Instead of jumping up and down in ecstasy. She decides right then and there to change her life.

She moves to Vegas and visits a health salesman who runs a show highlighting magic algae.

Alice has a strangely distant but spontaneous way of remarking on things that hooks the producer Rich (James Marsden) more because of her oddness than from meaning or importance.

A little encouragement goes a long way.

Alice buys her own talk show. The producer is forced to humor the weird, young woman.

In a fine performance, Wiig does well in portraying the off-putting rants and quirks of Alice. She is not a bad person, but for lack of a better word she is a bit vague, clumsy and grating in her obvious foolery. She yells screams and dopily twirls about the room. Alice doesn't seem to have a center. For reasons that are hard to fathom she mispronounces commonly used words like "carbohydrates" and "neuter".

In her total and complete otherworldliness, Kirsten Wiig is a bit like the singular Andy Kaufman at times. Watchable and bizarre as she is, she falls on the floor an awful lot in sexual gyrations, seemingly for no reason and speaks about menstruation, child abuse and stolen makeup. Her dialogue is so sudden and rife with non-sequiturs that it becomes hard to make sense of it all.

Stranger still, there is a long bit about on-air dog castrations that is queasy and  difficult to laugh about.

There have been other Alice-like roles. Jim Carrey has done several curious and far out performances highlighting insular personalities like the inwardly tortured Joel Barish in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and the abstract Truman Burbank in "The Truman Show," who was also obsessive. There was Robert De Niro's Rupert Pupkin in Scorsese's "The King of Comedy." And who can forget the iconic portrayal of Chauncey Gardiner as delivered by Peter Sellers in "Being There." These characters all had dysfunction and comedy at their core but also an added depth and variation, vital to keep us watching, however outrageous the events.

In this film, however, all of Alice's sobbing and caterwauling evolves into silly noise with little logic or heart. I didn't laugh once.

As unfunny and flat as the film plays , Kristen Wiig deserves some spooky praise in her portrayal of such an odd bird.

The acting talents of Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh appear as a psychiatrist and a network head respectively, albeit in stock performances. Leigh is haggard and Robbins is passive.

While it is at first compelling that Alice Klieg is spacey and out of touch, there is scarcely little novelty in Wiig's performance aside from being egocentric and crazed. From TV mania to her badly burned boobs and some on-camera neutering of dogs, it doesn't seem to mean all that much. Unfortunately, one will get more yucks to the stomach than any belly laughs.

As a method acting exercise, Alice Klieg is of interest, but as a character driven feature, "Welcome to Me" is all silliness and hurry offering little invitation for laughs.

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