23rd Oct2015

‘Addicted to Fresno’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Judy Greer, Natasha Lyonne, Aubrey Plaza, Ron Livingston, Allison Tolman, Fred Armisen, Molly Shannon, Jessica St. Clair, Malcolm Barrett, Michael Hitchcock, Clea DuVall | Written by Karey Dornetto | Directed by Jamie Babbit

addicted-to-fresno-poster

Reteaming director Jamie Babbit with Natasha Lyonne, her leading lady from the 1999 cult favourite But I’m a Cheerleader, Addicted to Fresno tells the story of Martha (Lyonne), a quiet reserved young woman who divides her day between working as a cleaner at the Fresno Suites hotel and working out at the local gym.

When her elder sister, Shannon (Greer), is finally released from a sex rehab clinic, their unshakeable bond of sisterhood is put to the test when, after Martha gets Shannon a job at the hotel where she works, she accidentally kills a guest post-coitus. With no option but to try and dipose of the body, the pair get entangled in a web of sex toys, robbery, bad decisions and blackmail.

The first thing that strikes you about Addicted to Fresno is the casting. Typically Lyonne plays the damaged, trouble-making character; whereas Greer is the straight-laced, rule-following type – but here the roles are reversed; and it works. Greer and Lyonne have fantastic on-screen chemistry and their comic timing is spot on, plus the pair get to spout some of the smuttiest and sassiest lines outside a Judd Apatow movie!

Speaking of Apatow it’s the “bro-comedies” he made his name with – the likes of The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up et al. – that Addicted to Fresno shares its humour with. The script is filled with the same crude jokes, dildos, casual racism and, in this case, a particularly ridiculous gangster rapping, Bar Mitzvah celebrating, foul-mouthed tween. Only this film features women acting in the same bad-taste fashion as the men of Apatow’s movies, only in the hands of Greer and Lyonne the humour is even funnier, especially from Greer who brings a real sardonic tone to the laughs.

Typically I’m not the biggest fan of US “indie” comedies, especially the current trend of mumblecore, low-fi (and low on laughs) type of films that, more often than not, feature cast incapable of behaving like grown-ups. So you’d think that Addicted to Fresno would not be my thing. However the opposite is true… The teaming of Greer and Lyonne is like a breath of filmic fresh air, and with a supporting cast that includes the fantastic Aubrey Plaza and Ron Livingston (the star of one of my all-time favourite comedies Office Space) there’s a lot, a LOT, to love about Babbit’s movie.

Addicted to Fresno is on limited release across the UK now.

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