Kristen Wiig as lottery winner and self-made TV star Alice Klieg in Welcome to Me

Kristen Wiig as lottery winner and self-made TV star Alice Klieg in Welcome to Me

After seeing her dance to Sia’s “Chandelier” at the Grammys, I’ve come to the conclusion that Kristen Wiig can do just about anything.

She excels in sketch comedy (Saturday Night Live). She can carry a big-screen comedy (Bridesmaids). She can handle cinematic drama (The Skeleton Twins).

Now, with Welcome to Me, Wiig shows she can play a mentally unstable character without turning her into a stereotypical freak. Even more impressively, she does it in a dramatically unstable movie that would collapse into a messy heap without her presence.

Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a woman with what she describes as a “borderline personality disorder,” or what once might have been called manic depression. When she’s not having state-mandated sessions with her psychiatrist (Tim Robbins), she seems to spend her days watching and memorizing taped episodes of Oprah.

Then two things happen that upset her reclusive existence: She goes off her meds, and she wins the lottery. And, I mean, she really wins the lottery, to the tune of $86 million.

Heading off to a desert resort to celebrate with her friend Gina (Linda Cardellini), Alice stumbles into an infomercial-type TV show hosted by Gabe (Wes Bentley). It’s there she hatches the idea of hosting her own show—a show all about her. Gabe and others who recognize her instability are justifiably leery, but his producer/brother, Rich (James Marsden), is eager to get his hands on the $15 million she’s willing to pay for the experience.

Directed by Shira Piven (Fully Loaded) from a gently funny script by Eliot Laurence, Welcome to Me has a sweet personality that helps us overlook its flaws. In that respect, it’s much like its central character.

Alice’s neediness and newfound wealth would seem to make her a prime target for con artists, but most people are too decent to take advantage of her. True, Rich does, but only because he sees her as the struggling TV station’s one hope for survival.

Conversely, Alice’s self-absorption and long-repressed sexual appetite make her a thoughtless friend and lover. While she does pay a price for her indiscretions, it’s clear that even those she hurts still love her.

The script’s lack of cynicism can be seen most clearly in the way it depicts Alice’s TV show and the reactions of its viewers. Even though she’s obviously unbalanced and uses the show to rail against those she blames for past hurts—some of them exceedingly minor—her audience gradually grows because people relate to her. In the actual world, she’d probably be regarded as just another reality-TV crackpot.

If you can overlook its naïve tendencies, Welcome to Me is likable and entertaining until it gets stuck in the quicksand Alice has created for herself. And even then, the film finds a way to dig her out.

Director Piven draws grounded, unfussy performances out of her entire cast, but it’s Wiig’s portrayal of Alice that keeps us caring even through the flick’s weaker moments. Like I said, this girl can do just about anything.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Welcome to Me (rated R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language and brief drug use) opens Friday (May 8) at the Gateway Film Center, 1550 N. High St., Columbus. For show times, visit