Kristen Wiig Doesn’t Just Want to Be Funny

The trailer for Kristen Wiig’s latest film Welcome to Me has hit the Internet after the movie debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last year. While Bridesmaids brought the Saturday Night Live sketch comedienne to wider fame and last year’s The Skeleton Twins showed that she could mix drama into her humor when sharing the screen with a worthy partner, Welcome to Me looks like it has the potential to show Wiig carrying a film that’s simultaneously funny and dramatic. This is the kind of indie movie that probably won’t be very widely seen or become an awards darling, but will increase the actress’s credibility for future dramatic roles.

In the film, Wiig plays Alice, a woman with borderline personality disorder who is obsessed with Oprah and dreams of having her own television show someday. When she wins $86 million in the lottery, she suddenly has the means to achieve that dream and creates her own show about herself called Welcome to Me. Alice goes off her psychiatric meds and uses the show as a platform to share her wacky views on dieting, relationships, and anything else that pops into her head. James Marsden, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wes Bentley and Linda Cardellini co-star.

Alice’s bizarre demands for the show include riding in during the opening on a swan boat and eating a meatloaf cake on camera because she’s taken up a high protein diet in lieu of her medication. “None of this would be as funny if it was done by anyone other than Wiig, who has never been funnier. Her crass, narcissistic, capricious Alice is her greatest creation,” said Indiewire, which saw the film at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Reviews have drawn parallels between Welcome to Me and an extended SNL skit, but in a good way. Rather than quickly growing tiring to watch, Wiig’s Alice is allowed to play out her quirks with bizarre aplomb that works in the character’s favor until the filmmaker Shira Piven pulls the rug out from under us. “In a picture that could well draw the usual ire for daring audiences to laugh at a character with a psychological disorder, it’s perhaps Piven’s most compassionate gesture that she leaves Alice more or less as she found her, allowing this darkly funny romp to tilt, almost imperceptibly, into tragedy,” said Variety, which also viewed the film at TIFF.

The Skeleton Twins already proved that Wiig can effectively balance comedy and drama. That family dramedy saw her and Bill Hader playing estranged twins dealing with the emotional fallout after Hader’s character attempts suicide. The performances from both actors, who were only known for more straightforward comedic roles, earned wide praise, with an 87% rating among reviews aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes.

The chemistry between Hader and Wiig was cited as a key component of The Skeleton Twins’ success, but Welcome to Me is taking Wiig a step farther to prove that she can carry a dramedy on her own. Even though this won’t be a box office smash or an Oscar winner, this movie could earn Wiig the reviews she needs to land a leading role that could be one of those two things.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

More from Entertainment Cheat Sheet: