As far as movies are concerned, there are two mental health diagnoses: Crazy people belong in comedies, but the mentally ill belong in dramas. "Welcome to Me" wants to have it both ways. Its heroine, Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig), is a low-functioning woman who refuses to take medication for her bipolar disorder and ends up making some disastrous choices. And it's a comedy.
It's a risky idea for a movie, and it almost works thanks to Wiig's performance. Her Alice is a more fully formed, fleshed-out version of the hilariously irritating oddballs Wiig often played on "Saturday Night Live." Easily the most delusional and uncooperative patient of Dr. Moffet (a deadpan Tim Robbins), Alice spends nearly all her time watching television -- she refuses to turn it off -- and she particularly loves Oprah Winfrey, whose monologues she memorizes. (Wiig does this brilliantly.) When Alice wins $86 million in the California lottery, she approaches a struggling television station and purchases her dream: to become the watched, not the watcher.
Her show, "Welcome to Me," has no guests, only Alice, who talks about whatever occurs to her. More disturbingly, she hires actors to re-enact primal scenes involving old schoolmates, family members and even her current best friend, Gina (Linda Cardellini). Meanwhile, Alice begins sleeping with her producer (Wes Bentley), much to the horror of the staff (a top-notch cast of Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh and James Marsden, all terrific).
Where is this story going? Clearly Alice is headed for a meltdown, and in a way, so is the movie. "Welcome to Me" isn't quite a media satire like "Network" -- for one thing, television seems like yesterday's media -- nor is it a deep dive into mental illness like "The Fisher King." Written by Eliot Laurence and directed by Shira Piven (sister of the actor Jeremy Piven), "Welcome to Me" has its charming, funny and sensitive moments, but it also suffers from its own form of instability.