Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig), a mentally ill single woman living on disability benefits, and fan of Oprah Winfrey, wins the California Stack Sweepstakes lottery jackpot of $86 million. She appears on the local TV news celebrating her win, but is upset when the speech she had prepared is abruptly cut off after she mentions using masturbation as a sedative. She discontinues her medication, against the advice of her psychiatrist, Daryl Moffat (Tim Robbins), and moves into a casino hotel with her best friend Gina Selway (Linda Cardellini).
During a vitamin supplement infomercial presented by Gabe Ruskin (Wes Bentley), Alice, who is in the studio audience, responds to his request for a volunteer, hijacks the broadcast and recites her speech once again (though is again cut off by the director). Gabe's brother Rich (James Marsden), the co-owner and manager of the studio, introduces himself and arranges a meeting to discuss Alice's idea for a tv show, at which Alice writes a cheque for $15 million to pay for 100 live-broadcast two-hour episodes of a 'vanity' show about herself entitled Welcome to Me. Gabe is nonplussed over the show's aimless premise, but after Alice takes him on a date, they promptly have sex and begin a relationship. Alice announces that she has given up her medication during the show's first episode, which includes a silent five-minute segment of Alice eating meatloaf cake with mashed sweet potato icing, followed by a live re-enactment of a scene from her past, with actors wearing name-cards playing herself and a friend who had betrayed her in high school. After seeing a recording, Alice decides the show looks too inexpensive and writes another cheque to bring the production values more in line with The Oprah Winfrey Show. The studio set is revamped to include a rotating stage and a replica of her house.
As the show grows in popularity, her friends and family become alienated by her non-flattering depictions of them in her sketches. Rainer Ybarra (Thomas Mann), a graduate student and fan of the show, interviews Alice about her rising stardom, and the two go on a date which ends with her fellating him in her limousine. Their tryst is revealed on air, much to Gabe's fury. While recovering from second degree burns sustained in a cooking accident on the show, Alice decides to introduce a new theme of neutering dogs on the show, utilising her six years' experience as a veterinary nurse. Fed up with her volatility, Gabe finally quits. Rich continues to support Alice's decisions until he and the studio are threatened with various lawsuits including slander and health code violations. Rich angrily interrupts the show, demanding that Alice cancel the veterinary procedures. Alice abandons the broadcast 40 minutes early, cancels her show and settles the lawsuits, leaving her with $7 million.
Alice suffers a nervous breakdown, walking naked through the main floor of the casino. She is hospitalized and resumes her medication. After being released, she apologizes to Dr. Moffat and contacts Rich to arrange a final episode of Welcome to Me. She invites her family and Gina to the broadcast, a lavish telethon aimed at finding owners for the dogs she has neutered, along with making amends to everyone she's wronged. In the show's last moments, Alice gives a heartfelt apology to Gina and praises her for her patience, and presents her with a check for the remaining $7 million of her lottery winnings.
Her life now back to normal, Gabe takes Alice home and gives her a camcorder as a gift. When she goes to bed, she finally turns off her television that she has left switched on continuously for over 11 years.Kristen Wiig as Alice Klieg
James Marsden as Rich Ruskin
Linda Cardellini as Gina Selway
Wes Bentley as Gabe Ruskin
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Deb Moseley
Alan Tudyk as Ted Thurber
Tim Robbins as Dr. Daryl Moffat
Joan Cusack as Dawn Hurley
Thomas Mann as Rainer Ybarra
Loretta Devine as Barb, the network lawyer
George Basil as Technical Director #2
On March 20, 2013, Kristen Wiig was in talks to join the cast of the film and re-team with Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues cohorts Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who produced. On May 21, 2013, it was announced that Wiig had signed to star in the film. On July 16, 2013, more actors were added to the cast including Linda Cardellini, Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh. On July 29, 2013, four more actors were added to the cast, Wes Bentley, James Marsden, Joan Cusack, and Alan Tudyk. On December 3, 2014, Millennium Entertainment acquired the American distribution rights to the film.
Principal photography began in July 2013 in Los Angeles and filming mostly in Greater Los Angeles Area. The film was shot in Indio, California, filming a scene at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino hotel. The crew also filmed scenes in Inland Empire, Banning, Beaumont and Cabazon. On August 14, filming took place in Palm Springs.
The film premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 5, 2014.
It was released in United States theaters on May 1, 2015. The film grossed $38,168 from 2 screens. The following week the film jumped from 41st place to 29th place, earning $188,067 from 133 screens. The film closed with $625,727 after spending seven weeks in the box office.
The film was also released on May 8, 2015 through hoopla, an online streaming media service used by libraries. This was the first time a first-run film was released simultaneously in theaters and on hoopla. The film was also released on video on demand and digital stores as well beginning on May 8, 2015.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 16, 2015 in the United States.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a rating of 73%, based on 96 reviews, with a rating of 6.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A transfixing central performance by Kristen Wiig holds Welcome to Me together and compensates for its uneven stretches." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 69 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".