It’s been fascinating to see how little Kristen Wiig seems to care about becoming Eddie Murphy or Mike Myers. She’s probably the most successful SNL star since Tina Fey and Amy Poehler—maybe since Will Ferrell if you stick to the movies—yet her after Bridesmaids, it was her costar (and frequent SNL host) Melissa McCarthy who really made a grab for broad-comedy dominance. Wiig seems to appear only in big comedy projects as, get this, a lark: she played young Lucille Bluth in the fourth season of Arrested Development, Steve Carell’s love interest in Anchorman 2, and various cartoon characters in both movies and TV. Instead, she’s been spending her post-Bridesmaids capital on indies movies like Girl Most Likely, Hateship Loveship, and The Skeleton Twins, often working with female filmmakers and even sadder characters than the one that broke her out of SNL mode.
In that sense, Welcome to Me, which opens today, feels like the movie that Wiig has been trying to make for the past three or four years: she plays an eccentric, off-balance woman of modest means, thrust into oddball circumstances (in this case when she wins an enormous lottery prize and decides to spend it on assembling her own talk show; double check), in a film directed by a woman (check: Shira Piven, Jeremy’s sister and also Adam McKay’s wife). The difference here is Welcome to Me is more than a slightly strange curiosity that doesn’t quite work: it’s a very strange curiosity that works almost shockingly well.