Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
WELCOME TO ME | 105 min | Rated PG-13
Director: Shira Piven
Stars: Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini, Wes Bentley, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Thomas Mann, Alan Tudyk and Tim Robbins
WELCOME TO ME is a dark toned comedy where Kristen Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who goes off her psychiatric meds, wins the lottery and buys her own talk show.
This is a neat enough premise to warrant your attention, and the cast is strong enough to pull you in; however, it’s a film that ultimately leaves you on the fence. You feel unsure because it so often makes you feel dirty, uncomfortable and annoyed. Sure, there have been great movies that have left you feeling a little strange and weird, such as last year’s FRANK, but there are no rewards here.
Tonally, this film is all over the place. There will be these great, grounded moments that work within the world of the film, such as Klieg exorcising her personal demons and re-enacting moments from her past. It’s really quite a fascinating exploration. But then, those moments will be shoveled aside by these rather absurd and ridiculous moments that throw this story in a tail-spin, including how quickly she spends her money (making it seem more like a scene out of BRIDESMAIDS) and how she ditches her clothes to walk completely naked through a casino (a scene that comes from out of nowhere and functions like a shortcut to “serious acting”).
Despite how uneven this film is, I have to commend Wiig for taking on such a challenging role that is both emotionally and physically daring. After exiting SNL and taking on big projects such as BRIDESMAIDS, she could have made an easy cash-grab by making other movies just like it, but she didn’t do that. She chased different and complex roles, with films like THE SKELETON TWINS, A GIRL MOST LIKELY and HATESHIP LOVESHIP. Yeah, sometimes the movies around her performance don’t always stick (much like this one), but you can’t help but admire how bold she is, especially here.
WELCOME TO ME showcases strong performances in a narrative that needs more tightening and understanding of what kind of film it is. It will often offer riveting insight into the idea that “television makes us all narcissists,” but it loses grip on its ideas and doesn’t really say much in the end.
WELCOME TO ME is playing in select theaters today.