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Welcome to Me Blu-ray Review

Welcome to Me (2015) movie poster Welcome to Me

Theatrical Release: May 1, 2015 / Running Time: 87 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Shira Piven / Writer: Eliot Laurence

Cast: Kristen Wiig (Alice Klieg), Wes Bentley (Gabe Ruskin), Linda Cardellini (Gina Selway), Joan Cusack (Dawn Hurley), Loretta Devine (Barb Vaughn), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Deb Moseley), Thomas Mann (Rainer Ybarra), James Marsden (Rich Ruskin), Tim Robbins (Dr. Daryl Moffet), Alan Tudyk (Ted Thurber), Kulap Vilaysack (Grace Dao), Mitch Silpa (Derek), Anelia Dyoulgerova (Magda), Joe Roland (Technical Director), Joyce Hiller Piven (Miriam Klieg), Jack Wallace (Bud Klieg)

Buy Welcome to Me from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

Over the years, a number of "Saturday Night Live" cast members have made the leap to genuine movie stardom. Limit the group to women and that number comes down considerably. In light of that, you'd understand if Kristen Wiig cashed in on Bridesmaids,
the blockbuster 2011 comedy that also earned her an Academy Award nomination for Original Screenplay, with a sequel and like-minded commercial romps. Instead, Wiig has followed her biggest hit with projects that speak to her. The films with her in a lead role have been dark, challenging independent movies.

Instead of reteaming with Melissa McCarthy or collecting Cameron Diaz-like paychecks on lowest common denominator dreck, Wiig has made Girl Most Likely, Hateship Loveship, and The Skeleton Twins, all of which have ticket sales you'd measure in thousands. It's not like the actress has sworn off mainstream projects entirely; Christmas 2013 saw her in both Anchorman 2 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and next summer she'll be in the lady Ghostbusters with McCarthy. But Wiig is clearly putting her own tastes before that of the public. Maybe she's missing some opportunities to get really, really rich. At the same time, maybe she is ensuring she doesn't quickly wear out her welcome or become too one-dimensional in the eyes of moviegoers.

Welcome to Me, Wiig's latest indie vehicle, opened just last month in theaters. After a promising debut at two locations, the film expanded to 119 and performed poorly, prompting a quick retreat, a disappearing act, and now a swift arrival on Blu-ray and DVD.

On her talk show "Welcome to Me", Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) shows off a high-protein, low-carb meatloaf cake.

Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a woman from Palm Desert, California who suffers from borderline personality disorder. Alice's home, where the TV has been on for eleven straight years, is full of self-recorded VHS cassettes of Oprah Winfrey episodes. Alice can, and frequently does, pop in those tapes and echo Oprah's words verbatim from memory. When Alice wins the state lottery's $86 million jackpot, she approaches New Vibrance, the studio that produces some of her favorite infomercials. She wants her own talk show and without a second thought writes a $15 million check to secure her two years on the air.

On-air personality Gabe Ruskin (Wes Bentley) has doubts about this plan, as does everyone else at the small company, but he defers to his brother Rich (James Marsden), who sees Alice's multi-million dollar investment as the only way to save New Vibrance from bankruptcy. So, with Alice off her meds to the disapproval of her longtime therapist (Tim Robbins) and now living in a reservation casino hotel, "Welcome to Me", a one-hour weekly talk show that is all about Alice, becomes a reality. The show, which sees its host enter on a swan boat, unfolds with cooking segments adhering to her high-protein, low-"carbohydrant" diet, actors' re-enactments of her life experiences, and anything else that comes to mind. Alice's show, which soon expands to five broadcasts a week, devotes multiple episodes to neutering dogs on the air.

The crew -- which includes Joan Cusack as director, Jennifer Jason Leigh as production designer, and Loretta Devine as legal counsel -- has qualms about exploiting Alice's mental illness, but they go along with her wishes anyway. She's the one paying the bills. Along the way, Alice's series wins one admirer in a grad student (Thomas Mann) who gets more than an interview from the host. It also damages Alice's relationship with her best (and only) friend (Linda Cardellini).

Brothers Rich (James Marsden) and Gabe Ruskin (Wes Bentley) have different levels of comfort with putting Alice on the air. A white-haired Tim Robbins plays Alice's therapist Dr. Daryl Moffet.

Welcome to Me is wildly uneven and only somewhat by design. It feels like an ill-conceived recurring SNL sketch awkwardly turned into a feature film. The project rests so heavily on Wiig's shoulders that you kind of assume this is a character she has created.
But writing credit goes squarely to Eliot Laurence, an unknown whose previous filmography consists only of writing and producing "The Big Gay Sketch Show" from 2006 to 2008. You're not alone if you haven't heard of that Rosie O'Donnell-created series for the LGBT-oriented digital cable channel Logo.

Laurence does not make a very strong case for regular filmmaking work. But he and director Shira Piven, the sister of Jeremy and wife of Adam McKay, likewise picking up her first theatrical credit, will not be blamed much for the failings of the film. Those will be placed primarily on Wiig, who bares herself emotionally and, briefly, physically. That is simply the reality for being the face of a small one-hander movie like this. As a producer, Wiig's creative input likely extended beyond her bold characterization too. It seems safe to say that, despite their prominent front cover credit for home video, fellow producers McKay and Will Ferrell, his creative partner, were probably not deeply involved in the creation of this film, which bears little resemblance to their high-profile signature comedies (like Anchorman and Step Brothers).

There are some humorous moments and it's easy to appreciate Wiig not accepting easy work in the tidy mainstream movies she must be getting pitched. Still, the movie has shockingly little to say about television, talk shows, and viewers' relationship to them. And it never overcomes the obvious problem of its design, which is that it wants you to be amused by a character with a diagnosed mental disorder that manifests in quirky, unconventional, unpredictable ways.

Welcome to Me Blu-ray Disc cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($19.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Welcome to Me appears to be a low-budget film, but only because of its content and limited distribution. The picture quality on Alchemy's Blu-ray is positively perfect. The 1.78:1 video is just as sharp and vibrant as any of its contemporaries. The default Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack also gets the job done in satisfactory fashion.

Linda Cardellini discusses playing Alice's best friend in the making-of featurette. The Blu-ray's menu plays clips on the right side of the screen while using the key art on the left side.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Welcome to Me's main bonus is an untitled 8-minute HD making-of featurette.
It dispenses comments from key cast and crew and serves up some behind-the-scenes footage on the side.

In addition, the film's theatrical trailer (2:29, HD) joins the four that open the disc (for Are You Here, Accidental Love, Fading Gigolo and The Humbling) in the Previews section.

The Blu-ray's menu plays clips on the right side of the screen, the other half remaining steady with the poster/cover art image. Though the Blu-ray does not support bookmarks, it does kindly resume unfinished playback like a DVD.

No inserts accompany the fully-colored Region A disc inside the slipcovered keepcase.

"Welcome to Me" dials up the production values for the final show of Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Welcome to Me offers sporadic and inconsistent diversion as it treads a fine line between overt mess retooled in postproduction and genuinely witty indie comedy. Its design dictated by a mentally ill protagonist is likely to produce mixed reactions in you, no matter how much Kristen Wiig commits to this discomforting performance.

Buy Welcome to Me from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Kristen Wiig: Girl Most Likely Friends with Kids Extract Adventureland Whip It Ghost Town Knocked Up
James Marsden: Accidental Love Enchanted | Wes Bentley: The Hunger Games Lovelace | Linda Cardellini: Kill the Irishman
Joan Cusack: Broadcast News Ice Princess Grosse Pointe Blank | Jennifer Jason Leigh: Greenberg Margot at the Wedding eXistenZ

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Reviewed June 15, 2015.



Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2015 Alchemy, Bron Studios, Gary Sanchez Productions, and Media House Capital.
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