Welcome to Me

Review by Mathilde Dumazet

Directed by

Shira Piven

Starring

James Marsden Kristen Wiig Linda Cardellini

Anticipation.

Love Kristen Wiig, but director Shira Piven is an unknown quantity.

Enjoyment.

Never judge a book by its cover. Sometimes it gets so embarrassing you can’t look away.

In Retrospect.

Just don’t push it too far… Little Miss Sunshine remains the best film about public humiliation.

Kristen Wiig becomes an self-starting chat show host in this satire of American egocentrism.

Donald Trump’s The Apprentice (and/or election campaign) might be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to becoming aware of the vastness of America’s ‘Me, myself and I’ culture. Alice (Kristen Wiig) wins $86 million on the lottery and decides to start her own talk show.

Welcome to Welcome to Me. There are two reasons to take note of a movie that tackles egocentrism: first, it’s always exhilarating to watch someone else ridiculing – artistically or otherwise – an attitude you despise but you can’t help reproducing; second, Alice is much easier on the eye (and about a billion times less scary) than Trump.

You could miss the comic potential of the movie by skimming the synopsis: Alice is suffering from a borderline personality disorder. She organises things by colour, loves Oprah Winfrey and becomes madly impulsive when spending her winnings. Who better than Saturday Night Live’s comic-in-chief to embody such a nutty character? The rest of the cast is equally well-chosen: the actors’ physical characteristics nicely represent their inner character. But even the most human roles – the manhandled psychotherapist and the abandoned best friend – aren’t immune to grotesque clichés.

Once the opening embarrassment passes, you get the feeling that things will only get worse. Laughter becomes a better alternative than thinking these scenes (could) happen. Director Shira Piven paints a rather negative picture of Americans’ penchant for outrageousness, but never goes so far as to question it. In the moment, it works just fine, even if it feels like a never-ending outlet for human stupidity that lacks a dramatically compelling endgame.

Feeling embarrassed for Alice is natural – everything you don’t want her to do, she does. It’s like watching your favourite sport team losing a game over and over and over. But after 90 mins of humiliation, it becomes rather tiring. And despite a few hilarious performances, it’s all about as subtle as, well, $86 million.

Published 26 Mar 2016

Anticipation.

Love Kristen Wiig, but director Shira Piven is an unknown quantity.

Enjoyment.

Never judge a book by its cover. Sometimes it gets so embarrassing you can’t look away.

In Retrospect.

Just don’t push it too far… Little Miss Sunshine remains the best film about public humiliation.

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