Wednesday, September 02, 2015

“Addicted To Fresno”– Movie Review



This week, I attended a premiere of the new comedy “Addicted To Fresno”, starring Natasha Lyonne and Judy Greer.


When a woman accidentally kills one of her lovers, her sister tries to help dispose of the body – but after they’re blackmailed in the process, will they be able to raise enough money to keep them both out of trouble?


Shannon (Greer) is stricken with a slight touch of nymphomania.  After losing her teaching job because she hooked-up with staff, faculty and students, she was forced to register as a sex offender and wound up in rehab for her addiction – unfortunately, she was eventually thrown out because of her inability to control her urges.  Thankfully, her sister Martha (Lyonne) comes to the rescue by not only housing her but also getting Shannon a job – working with her sister as a maid at a local Fresno hotel.  Luckily, Martha doesn’t share Shannon’s issues of constantly trying to have sex with random men – Martha is a lesbian. 

Succumbing to her impulses, Shannon winds up in bed with one of the hotel guests – but when Martha discovers her in flagrante delicto, Shannon denies her culpability.  In the act of wresting herself from her embarrassing predicament, Shannon inadvertently pushes her co-conspirator away a little too vigorously, causing him to die of a broken neck when he falls.  Worried they’ll lose their job and do time for murder, the sisters decide to sneak the body out of the hotel and secretly have it cremated at a local pet cemetery.  The plan is abruptly scotched when the cemetery’s manager realizes the cremation isn’t for an animal; she then offers the sisters a choice – either she can report them to the police or they can pay her $25,000 to look the other way.

Unable to raise that much money so quickly, Shannon and Martha try to devise some schemes to acquire the cash.  After an attempted robbery at a neighborhood adult toy shop fails to yield sufficient results, they decide to sell some of the stolen toys to a group of lesbians gathered at their hotel.  Coming up short even then, they plan to crash a boy’s bar mitzvah and steal the money intended as his gift.  But when they eventually realize that they’re still shy of the required funds, will the sisters be able to find a way to get the body cremated or are they doomed to spend their life evading the police? 


Although “Addicted To Fresno” has some entertaining moments, the script gets off to something of a rocky start because the screenwriter apparently had some difficulty writing exposition; in this script, the conveying of information about a given character and his/her background is about as subtle as a sledgehammer.  One character tells the other information about their relationship which they both already are fully aware of; the only justification for doing so is that this is the quickest way to get the audience up to speed about who these people are – but it is not necessarily the most artful way. 

Many Hollywood movies by male filmmakers are criticized for being misogynistic – and rightly so.  “Addicted To Fresno”, however, takes things to the other unrealistic extreme; women – lesbians, in particular – are placed high on a pedestal while the men in the movie are either idiots or low-lifes (the one exception being the hotel employee who tries to develop a romantic relationship with Shannon – he, it turns out, is a poet, who Shannon originally suspects might be gay).   Another example is Shannon and Martha’s supervisor – a man who appears to suffer from Down Syndrome.  Shannon, the only major female character who’s straight, is a sex addict.  If homosexuality or lesbianism were portrayed as a mental illness, would there be a public outcry? 

Following the screening, there was a brief question and answer session with the two stars of “Addicted To Fresno” as well as the film’s writer and director.  Screenwriter Karey Dornetto said that she very loosely based the script on her relationship with her sister.  Director Jamie Babbit, Dornetto’s wife, felt that the focus of the movie was on the sense of loyalty the two sisters had for each other.  Judy Greer mentioned that this was one of the rare occasions when she was actually offered a script; she usually has to audition for roles.  Lyonne embarrassedly admitted that during a scene where her character was kissing Aubrey Plaza (who plays Martha’s trainer at a nearby gym), she may have used a wee bit of tongue. 


Addicted to Fresno (2015) on IMDb

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