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Movie Review: Addicted to Fresno
20%Overall Score
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In its opening moments, Addicted to Fresno states that it’s a story about how sisters can sink each other. While this is true, Addicted to Fresno is mostly the story of how a terrible script, scattered plot, and desperate attempts at humor can sink an excellent cast of fantastic actors and comedians.

Natasha Lyonne is Martha, a hotel room cleaner who is still hung up on her ex-girlfriend. Martha takes in her sister Shannon, played by Judy Greer, a sex addict who recently got put on the sex offenders list and fired from her job. Martha gets Shannon a job as a housekeeper, which she haphazardly does when she’s not trying to meet up with her married therapist (Ron Livingston) to fuck him. During a particularly low moment, Shannon fucks with a permanent inhabitant of the hotel (Jon Daly, maybe the film’s funniest actor in how he embraces the sleezeball character) and accidentally kills him.


Covering up this murder leads Martha and Shannon on a quest to get rid of the body that doesn’t so much escalate, as it just keeps going to one boring goal to the next. They take the body to a pet cemetery where the owners (Alison Tolman and Fred Armisen) blackmail Martha and Shannon for $25,000 to keep their mouths shut. This leads the sisters to robbing a sex shop, which all they’re able to nab is a cart full of purple dildos. So now they’ve got a dirty dick and a bunch of floppy dicks to get rid of!

Martha and Shannon never even seem all that concerned by a situation that would very well put them in prison. Despite having a dead body that they need to take care of, the two still have no problem going to Krav Maga classes or meeting up for quick trysts at a moment’s notice.

Lyonne is unexpectedly chipper throughout Addicted to Fresno, adding a hopeful shine to all predicaments that head their way. After a string of thankless appearances in films this year, Judy Greer gets a chance to shine and is able to pull off Shannon as a character with the desire to just feel anything, even if its just numbness. Lyonne and Greer play well off each other, but the script is never funny enough nor dramatic enough to show off either of their strengths.

Addicted to Fresno throws in cameo after cameo, almost as if a last ditch effort to bring something funny to what is apparently a comedy. Each new locale features someone much funnier than this film deserves, like Kumail Nanjiani, Jessica St. Clair, and Molly Shannon, but none of them ever bring anything all that hilarious to the proceedings.

Writer Karey Dornetto – who has also worked on Arrested Development, Portlandia and Kroll Show – makes Addicted to Fresno almost episodic, with every new step of Martha and Shannon’s endeavor just feeling like a new bit to try out. Dornetto tries too hard to be controversial in order to illicit laughs, such as having Daly’s creep character reuse condoms or having a bar mitzvah rap that includes the line “you can’t get freaky when there’s a Holocaust.” These types of jokes just make Addicted to Fresno seem desperate. This attempt to shock to make its audience laugh shouldn’t be all that surprising considering Addicted to Fresno comes from But I’m a Cheerleader director Jamie Babbit. Despite refining her style on some of the best comedies on TV in recent years, she still goes back to the broad, irritating comedy she started out with.

The dramatic, romantic elements in Addicted to Fresno that are completely out of place ironically work the best. Aubrey Plaza as Kelly, a love interest for Martha, brings out the rare heart that this film lacks, even if it doesn’t make all that much sense in this film. Yet it’s Malcolm Barrett as Eric, Shannon’s love interest, that steals the entire film. He shares the same addictive personality as Shannon, yet utilizes it to make himself better. Barrett brings compassion to a film that lacks any and makes creates of the only characters with more than one dimension. Like most of the supporting characters in Addicted to Fresno, he’s mostly forgotten about by the end of the film.

Babbit and Dornetto have years of experience working with some of the funniest actors and greatest comedies on television, yet when put together, Addicted to Fresno becomes a string of bland “adventures” that neither its characters or its audiences care all that much about, despite its excellent cast. When the film tries at the end to regain some remnants of heart or hope, it’s just too little in a film that wastes its time with unfunny bits and underused actors.